The effectiveness of the ‘Getting Practical’ Continuing Professional  Development (CPD) programm...
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The effectiveness of the ‘Getting Practical’ Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme NSLC: York 2012. Ian Abrahams and Rachael Sharpe, University of York Michael Reiss, IoE University of London. A problem.

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Ian Abrahams and Rachael Sharpe, University of York Michael Reiss, IoE University of London

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Ian abrahams and rachael sharpe university of york michael reiss ioe university of london

The effectiveness of the ‘Getting Practical’ Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme NSLC: York 2012

Ian Abrahams and Rachael Sharpe, University of YorkMichael Reiss, IoE University of London


A problem

A problem

A problem with practical work, at least in terms of using it to develop conceptual understanding, is its name.

‘Practical work’ suggests – erroneously – (and not only to students) that it’s essentially about doing things rather than thinking about things.


Hands on vs minds on

‘Hands-on’ vs ‘minds-on’

For students and teachers alike practical work is often seen predominantly as a ‘hands-on’ rather than a ‘hands-on’ and ‘minds-on’ activity.

Whilst such an approach can be effective in enabling students to produce, and see, phenomena – often by adhering to recipe style tasks – it’s less effective in getting students to think about and understand their observations using scientific ideas and terminology.


Response getting practical

Response -Getting Practical

To improve the effectiveness of practical work the government funded (£900k) the Getting practical: Improving practical work in science project as a national CPD programme aimed and both primary and secondary teachers of science


Training schedule

Training schedule

Training options:

1 x 6 hours – one day

2 x 3 hours – two half days

3 x 2 hours – three twilight sessions

Groups comprised either primary, secondary or a mixture of both


Sample

Sample

Evaluation:

Sample 20 secondary and 10 primary from across England

Multi-site, condensed, case study approach

Pre and post-training visits

18 months


School type by location

School type by location


Guskey s five levels of cpd

Guskey’s five levels of CPD

Guskey’s (2002) five levels of CPD (Continuing Professional Development):

Participants’ reflection

Participants’ learning

Organisational change

Participants’ use of new learning

Impact on students


Pre training primary

Pre-training: Primary

Hands-on and minds-on

‘Carpet time’ – whole-class time devoted to developing the use/understanding of scientific words or the scaffolding of ideas

Non-subject specialists appeared better able to empathise with the difficulties faced by their students in science lessons

In many cases Levels 1:i and 2:i merged


Pre training secondary

Pre-training: Secondary

Pre-training observations support previous findings (Abrahams & Millar, 2008)

‘Hands-on’ and ‘minds-off’

Focus on the production of phenomena

Heavy recipe style orientation

Little whole-class time devoted to developing the use/understanding of scientific words or the scaffolding of ideas


Post training secondary observation

Post-training secondary observation

Generally speaking no change despite many positive reviews of IPWiS.

Notable exception was a school in which IPWiS was pushed by a strong charismatic Head of Science with full support (time & funding) from the Senior Management Team (SMT).


Post training observation

Post-training observation

No discernable difference (this is not a criticism as many of the primary teacher observed were already doing a lot of what IPWiS set out to achieve).


2x2 effectiveness matrix

2x2 Effectiveness Matrix

Intended outcomes

in the domain of observable objects

(Domain o)

in the domain of

ideas

(Domain i)

at level 1

(what the students do)

Students talk about the task and phenomenon using scientific ideas and terminology that the teacher intended.

Students operate equipment in a way that generates the phenomenon that the teacher intended.

at level 2

(what the students learn)

Students state what they have learnt about setting up and using equipment and what they observed.

Students use intended ideas and terminology to link their observations with the correct scientific theory.


Effectiveness of cpd

Effectiveness of CPD

Employed a Cascade model

Train the trainers of the trainers

Too many trainers distort the message (the issue of Chinese whispers)

Short duration of training nominally 6 hours

Advantage of Cascade model being its relatively low cost


Guskey s levels 1 2

Guskey’s levels 1 & 2

Guskey’s levels 1 & 2

Participants’ reflection

Participants’ learning

Levels 1 and 2 were achieved in all cases in so far as teachers were able to reflect on their CPD and had a clear idea of, amongst other things, the need for a more equitable balance between ‘hands-on’ and ‘minds-on’ in their practical lessons.


Guskey s level 3

Guskey’s level 3

Guskey’s level 3

Organisational change

Impact was found to be dependent on who undertook the training, e.g. whether they were a head of department or an Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), and the extent of SMT support.


Ian abrahams and rachael sharpe university of york michael reiss ioe university of london

In only one case was there observed to be change at level 3

Involved a very experience Head of Science

Full support of the school’s Senior Management Team (both financially and in terms of time)

Familiar with research on practical work from articles they had read in SSR

Chose to undertake the CPD (rather than being sent)


Guskey s level 4

Guskey’s level 4

Guskey’s level 4

Participants’ use of new learning

Whilst teachers appeared to be able to reflect on the Getting Practical CPD and were able to discuss the message of message there was no evidence of any significant change in practice


Analysis of secondary results

Analysis of Secondary results

Using a paired t-test for related data showed that:

What to do with objects or materials: no statistically significant (p = 0.16) change

Ideas and models to be used: no statistically significant (p = 0.31) change

Manipulating objects and materials: no statistically significant (p = 0.87) change


Analysis of primary results

Analysis of Primary results

Using a paired t-test for related data showed that:

What to do with objects or materials: no statistically significant (p = 0.63) change

Ideas and models to be used: no statistically significant (p = 0.38) change

Manipulating objects and materials: no statistically significant (p = 0.46) change


Guskey s level 5

Guskey’s level 5

Guskey’s level 5

Impact on students

Given the nature of the study it was not possible to evaluate any impact of the CPD on the students


Summary of findings

Summary of findings

This study found that the Getting Practical CPD was, generally speaking, effective in terms of Guskey’s first two levels.

It was only effective at level 3 in one case where conditions might be seen as being optimal in terms of the teacher’s enthusiasm and the support of the schools Senior management Team (SMT)


Ian abrahams and rachael sharpe university of york michael reiss ioe university of london

Although the CPD was designed to encourage teachers to think about how and why they were using practical work comments from the teachers indicated that more specific examples of effective practical work were needed rather than generic guidance


Ian abrahams and rachael sharpe university of york michael reiss ioe university of london

Whilst there was no statistically significant difference between pre and post-CPD time allocations when considered across both primary and secondary groups there was one clear case (the same teacher mentioned above) whose style of teaching – post CPD - did reflect a much more equitable balance between ‘hands-on’ and ‘minds-on’.


Implications

Implications

Although a relatively short six hour training programme was relatively effective in raising teachers’ awareness of a ‘message’ it would appear that. For many teachers, lasting change requires sustained training.

The effectiveness of CPD, in terms of Guskey’s levels 3 and 4, might be enhanced if the training is undertaken by an interested senior member of a department who has the active support of the school’s SMT.


References

References

Abrahams, I., & Millar, R. (2008). Does practical work really work? A study of the effectiveness of practical work as a teaching and learning method in school science. International Journal of Science Education, 30(14), 1945–1969.

Guskey, T.R. (2002). Does it make a difference? Evaluating professional development. Educational Leadership, 59(6), 45-51.


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