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The impact of collaborative continuing professional development (CPD) on classroom teaching and learning - Review: What do teacher impact data tell us about collaborative CPD?

What do we want to know?

Previous reviews have looked at the impacts of sustained, collaborative CPD in primary and secondary schools on teachers and students.  The aim of this third review is to identify those studies of collaborative CPD which focus on teachers across the 5-16 age range, but which only provide data about teacher outcomes, to enable us to identify the impact and specific characteristics of teacher-focused studies. 

Who wants to know?

The issue of how best to support teachers in their CPD is of interest to teachers, professional associations and agencies responsible for the quality and provision of teacher training.

What did we find?  

  • In the CPD interventions which described teacher outcomes only, the teachers changed or substantially developed aspects of their teaching following the CPD intervention, and showed ongoing collaborative work.  Teachers' motivations, confidence, attitudes and beliefs were enhanced.
  • As with the other reviews, effective CPD processes included: use of peer support and specialist expertise; use of observation and feedback; teachers experimenting in applying the new skills in classroom teaching; consultation with teachers during the CPD process; and a significant in-school component to CPD.
  • Teacher-only evaluations focused on outcomes relating to teachers' motivations, confidence and attitudes as well as the acquisition of new knowledge and skills, whereas in teacher-and-pupil evaluations, the main focus was on achieving improved outcomes for pupils. Affective outcomes were not part of the explicit aims of the studies.
  • Teacher-only studies tended to evaluate CPD, whereas teacher-and-pupil evaluations focused on effective ways of achieving change and improvements in teaching and learning.

What are the implications?

  • Opportunities for sustained collaborative CPD, especially in-school, are valuable and should be encouraged. This should be linked to opportunities to experiment with new approaches.  However, gains from the CPD are not necessarily greater if they last more than one term.
  • Studies of CPD and the related interventions should consider incorporating and building equally upon the pedagogic and the CPD literature.
  • The cumulative picture of positive outcomes for teachers and pupils emerging from this series of reviews suggests that collaborative CPD between teachers has the potential to play a critical role in interpreting and embedding all policy initiatives in practice.

How did we get these results?

The first and second reviews synthesised the results of 31 studies which looked at teacher and pupil outcomes.  This review synthesised the results of a further 11 studies which described teacher-only outcomes.  All studies were in English.

This summary was prepared by the EPPI Centre

This report should be cited as: Cordingley P, Bell M, Evans D, Firth A (2005) The impact of collaborative CPD on classroom teaching and learning. Review: What do teacher impact data tell us about collaborative CPD? In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.

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