In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Inservice Teacher Education

  • Introduction
  • Highly Specified Professional Development
  • Salient Research Articles on Teacher Professional Learning
  • Salient Theoretical Articles on Teacher Professional Learning
  • Salient Texts and Chapters on Teacher Professional Learning

Education Inservice Teacher Education
Karen Koellner, Deborah Greenblatt
  • LAST REVIEWED: 22 February 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 February 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0196


Inservice teacher education is broadly defined as any learning opportunity for practicing teachers. The term inservice teacher designates a teacher that has certification or is already teaching in a classroom, in contrast to a preservice teacher, who is in the process of preparing to become a teacher. Preservice and inservice teacher learning have changed over time. This is due to the evolution of how the field has moved. In particular, there has been a shift from many educators aligning with behavioral theories of teaching and learning to more constructivist, sociocultural, and situated theories of teaching and learning. Inservice teacher education has gone from one-shot workshops where an expert imparts knowledge to teachers in a traditional lecture-style workshop to more professional learning opportunities where teachers engage in communities of learning: unpacking content, examining teachers’ instruction, and analyzing student thinking. Through this evolution, inservice teacher education has become synonymous with professional development or professional learning. These trends and the different ways that the field of education conceptualizes teaching and learning have broad yet important implications for inservice teacher education and professional development. In particular, the language and jargon associated with the field has changed to reflect the transformed theories or stances. For instance, the terms inservice teacher education and staff development are now more commonly referred to as teacher professional development and professional learning respectively. Due to this evolution of the field and the aligned adjustments in terminology in this article, we purposefully use the vocabulary that is consonant with the article under review in this volume. Additionally, this annotated bibliography builds on the Oxford Bibliographies in Education article by Stephanie Hirsch, Joellen Killion, and Joyce Pollard titled “Professional Development,” but provides a distinct framework and selection of annotations. We have selected articles that focus on the impact of professional development on one or more of the following: teachers’ knowledge, teachers’ instructional practices, and student learning. We also put forth a new theoretical construct to analyze research on inservice teacher education and professional development. Synthesizing and detailing the best current knowledge on teacher professional development (PD), this annotated bibliography highlights (1) research on the impact of different models of inservice teacher education on teacher learning and instruction and/or student learning, (2) handbooks and handbook chapters related to inservice learning and professional development, and (3) salient reports, theoretical articles, and meta-analyses that have been written on professional development and inservice teacher education.

Professional Development Impact Studies

There is general agreement that the quality of teaching has been shown to be the most important contributor to student learning and achievement. Thus, the field of teacher education has placed a premium on research and development efforts to better understand the impact of professional development (PD) interventions on teachers’ knowledge and practice as well as student learning and achievement. Toward this end, researchers are studying which professional development programs and characteristics of programs promote the highest degree of teacher and student growth. Professional development models come in a range of different formats and structures, yet there is emerging consensus on what high-quality, effective professional development looks like (National Academy of Education, 2009). Borko, et al. 2010 (cited under Salient Research Articles on Teacher Professional Learning), a review of the literature, presents a synthesis of the characteristics of high-quality professional development organized around content, process, and structure. With respect to content, research highlights the importance of focusing professional development on students’ thinking and learning. With respect to process and structure, participating actively and collaboratively in professional learning communities appears to be essential. Given this general agreement in terms of these broad outlines for professional development, one might expect that recently developed models would look relatively similar to one another. However, this is not the case. As suggested in Koellner and Jacobs 2015 (cited under Structured Professional Learning Communities) we argue that there is an important distinction between the formats of professional development that are currently available to teachers, with implications for research, policy, and practice. We posit that professional development models fall on a continuum of adaptability (Borko, et al. “Using video representations of teaching in practice based professional development programs,” Zentralblatt für Didaktik der Mathematik: International Reviews on Mathematical Education (2011) and Koellner and Jacobs 2015). Using this continuum enables professional development models to be located on a scale from highly adaptive to highly specified professional development models. Those at the highly adaptive end are designed to be readily responsive or adapted to the goals, resources, and circumstances of the local professional development context. These models are based on general and evolving guidelines rather than specific content, activities, and materials. On the other end of the continuum are highly specified approaches to professional development, where goals, content resources, and facilitation materials are provided to ensure a particular, predetermined professional development experience with fidelity to the developers. In specified PD, the experience is expected to be finite in nature, often based on published materials with stated learning goals, explicit design characteristics, and extensive supports for facilitators. Naturally, there are professional development programs that lie on points all along this continuum, with varying levels of specificity and adaptability. Additionally, the same professional development model could be placed at different points on the continuum based on the enactment by the facilitator. This bibliography is organized along this continuum of adaptability. This allows the reader to see how the characteristics of the professional development model are related to the impact on teacher and student learning. Furthermore, this lens allows the reader to make connections between the design of the professional development and the design of the research methodology. We argue that these relationships have critical implications for our understanding of the effectiveness, responsiveness, and rigor of professional development research. We begin by reviewing research that focuses on professional development models that are adaptive, and then move to more specified models. We categorize these as highly adaptive, adaptive, specified, and highly specified. We do not pinpoint an exact placement on the continuum, but instead discuss them based on our interpretation on the goals, content, and resources identified. At the end of the article, we provide annotations for handbooks, salient reports and theoretical articles, and meta-analyses that have been written on professional development and inservice teacher education that seem highly relevant for a deep understanding of the field.

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