Prior to my experience researching adult learning in my graduate studies program, I did not know much about adult learning frameworks or theories. I have always had a deep interest in professional learning and its impact on improving student learning, and I have also experienced professional development that was lacking in engagement and felt disconnected. In my blog, Understanding Adult Learning Theories in Reimaging Professional Development, I explore strategies for how coaches can apply adult learning theories to develop impactful professional development and engage adult learners. One way coaches can design impact professional development, no matter the adult learning theory or framework is by letting teachers drive their PD through choice. Just like the students in our classrooms, the educators in our professional development are looking for their learning needs to be met. By designing professional learning through the model of choice and agency, the learning needs of all educators can be met and it encourages the creation of learning experiences with those who have shared interests. Project-based learning is another way coaches can design professional learning to meet the cultural, social-emotional, and learning needs of educators. By bringing PBL into professional development, coaches can address adult learning theories through a role-reversal approach. I am currently enrolled in the elective course, EDCT 5802: Project-Based Learning, where I am learning about effective PBL design. Through this course, I am not only growing in my understanding of PBL implementation in the classroom but also how it can be effectively used in professional learning design.
“…teachers should be taught with the technology they will be using. When teachers are trained this way, they will have experienced the effectiveness of technological tools and will be better positioned to believe that they can utilize them effectively.”
– Hanover Research, Professional Development for Technology Integration
My blog post, Designing, Implementing, and Evaluating Effective Professional Development, also demonstrates evidence of this indicator. In researching how to design professional learning by utilizing adult learning theories, I have come to recognize the importance of needs assessments. The information collected from pre-needs assessments coaches administer is vital in helping to design professional development experiences. During the implementation of professional development, coaches can also use technology to obtain real-time feedback on the effectiveness of the PD and to allow for adjustments to be made based on participants’ needs. In previous professional development, I have facilitated, I have used pre-needs assessments and found them to be very effective. Collecting data from participant feedback before, during, and after professional development fosters effective professional development that is data-driven and responsive to need. What is important for coaches to remember is that collecting data from needs assessments is important, but what is even more important is making improvements to professional learning based on this data. As a coach, this is something I continue to remind myself, because if educators are going to take the time to provide feedback on their needs then coaches need to intentionally adjust PD to adapt to that feedback.
Hanover Research (June, 2014). Professional Development for Technology Integration. [PDF]. Retrieved January 22, 2021, from, https://ts.madison.k12.wi.us/files/techsvc/Professional%20Development%20for%20Technology%20Integration.pdf
ISTE Standards for Coaches (2019). Retrieved from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches