Creating Professional Development that Works: What Every Teacher Educator Needs to Know
reviewed by Michele L. Stites - February 09, 2016
Title: Creating Professional Development that Works: What Every Teacher Educator Needs to Know
Author(s): Andrea L. Ray
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham
ISBN: 1475815824, Pages: 236, Year: 2015
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Creating Professional Development That Works: What Every Teacher Educator Needs to Know focuses on designing professional development experiences that are relevant for teachers and generalizable to the classroom. Andrea L. Ray uses her past research and development of the Intentional Design Process, and extends it into a formal process aimed at establishing a research-based framework for professional development.
The book begins with a courtroom themeRay invokes trial rhetoric such as expert testimony and opening argument to defend her design. Ray begins with what she refers to as an argument for the Intentional Design Process. Her argument is framed by research questions examining how teachers initiate and sustain change following professional development experiences. She supports this line of thought with a great deal of research on professional development including that put forth by the national staff development council Learning Forward, much of which argues that teacher educators are failing in this respect. Learning Forwards professional development research is best summarized in its new definition for professional development, which Ray relates back to the Intentional Design Process.
One of Rays more convincing arguments examines disconnections between researchers and practitioners. Ray contends that teachers need professional development that takes the researchers ideal (p. 44) and fuses it with classroom realities. She notes that researchers tend to work in theory while teachers often work in experience, and this includes differences in the language used by researchers and teachers. Ray connects back to research that supports her claim that the Intentional Design Process will help change teachers practice from the outside in (p. 57), meaning that the cognitive design path used in the framework allows teachers to change how they teach through content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and educational technical knowledge (p. 57). The framework also addresses change from the inside out (p. 67) by considering how adults learn, and addressing the need to change teacher behavior, attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions (p. 67).
Ray provides quotations from three teachers who participated in an Intentional Design Process professional development experience throughout the book. She uses these quotes to highlight changes in teacher pedagogy and beliefs before, during, and after participating in professional development. This qualitative information provides readers with real life insights into the growth that may occur when a teacher participates in a professional development experience that implements the Intentional Design Process.
Readers of Creating Professional Development That Works are provided with a comprehensive explanation into the development of the Intentional Design Process. Particular attention is paid to the proven and tested research behind it, and different theories and frameworks used in its development. Ray uses this research to develop both a cognitive and affective design path (p. 77)these paths serve as the basis for creating the tasks at heart of the design. These design elements and sequence tasks are introduced and reviewed for readers prior to Ray outlining the process itself.
The outline of the process begins with specific instructional methods (p. 95) used in the Intentional Design Process including: interactive presentations, sections, office hours, and walkthroughs, (p. 95) each of which are defined and explained at length. These methods are subsequently linked to different tasks over the course of multiple chapters to connect aspects of the framework. The 12 tasks are broken into four categories: analytical cycle, design and development cycle, implementation cycle, and evaluation cycle. The tasks and cycles are further subdivided into a self-system, metacognitive mental system, and cognitive mental system. The division and subdivision of these methods, tasks, and cycles serve as directions for implementing the Intentional Design Process. The book concludes with a method to evaluate the process itself and provides reproducible sheets that may be used for this evaluation.
Creating Professional Development That Works provides research-based background for developing effective professional development experiences. Ray has tested her design and applied multiple strategies to increase its effectiveness. The basis for the Intentional Development Process is sound based on its links to previously tested theories and research. She includes many strategies that could be easily integrated into professional development design, and includes the four methods of interactive presentations, sections, office hours, and walkthroughs (p. 95), all of which are well supported by research.
The book loses ground when it applies the Instruction Design Process. While the design itself has the potential to be applicable to most professional development activities, the method in which Ray shares this information is potentially extremely confusing to readers. The 12 tasks associated with the framework could have been prioritized, ordered, and linked more logically, and the breakdown of tasks into different cycles and systems is difficult to follow. Multiple graphic organizers are used to organize information and streamline facts, but their sheer number can be overwhelming.
Rays book and her professional development framework have much to offer the professional development community. She defends her framework logically and supports much of what is known about effective professional development. There are many positive components to the Intentional Design Processthe methods that are discussed and teacher friendly language that is used are especially appealing given what we know about professional development. Creating Professional Development That Works and the process it describes become less effective in the multitude of language, connections, and steps it involves. If Ray could streamline the process into an even friendlier format for users, with fewer connections and steps, her process could become more effective in framing professional development.