The following is the fourth of four excerpts from the eBook, How Do I Lead Project Based Learning?, which provides a concrete framework for leading the implementation of project based learning. Although this eBook was written through the lens of project based learning, everything can be applied to all professional learning and instructional shifts, no matter the content. Originally, the eBook’s content was the final chapter of the book, Project Based Learning: Real Questions. Real Answers.
The four drivers of instructional shifts serve as the basis for the eBook: establish relationships and trust, begin with the end in mind, model best practice, evaluate professional learning.
Evaluate Professional Learning
As an Elementary School Principal, my team and I implemented a new multisensory phonics program in kindergarten through second grade. During its first year of implementation, I can recall an eye-opening conversation I had with one of the kindergarten teachers. The majority of the conversation focused on how happy teachers were with the program, and on the ways in which students were excelling at its various strategies: naming sight words, tapping out words on their desks, writing letters in sand, etc.
Then the conversation shifted to the actual goals of the program and how we could find if these goals were being met. Was the goal to get better at the program, or was the goal for students to get better at reading and spelling? And, because the goal was the latter, how could we determine the extent to which the program was moving students in this direction?
In short, we turned their attention to the question we should always ask ourselves whenever we implement a new program or instructional shift: How do we know what we’re doing is working?
In Evaluating Professional Development (2000), Tom Guskey features five increasing levels of sophistication for evaluating professional learning, from lowest to highest: participants’ reaction to professional development, how much participants learned, evaluating organizational support and change, how participants use their new knowledge and skills, improvements in student learning.
The levels in this model for evaluating professional development are hierarchically arranged from simple to more complex. With each succeeding level, the process of gathering information is likely to require increased time and resources. More importantly, each higher level builds on the ones that come before. In other words, success at one level is necessary for success at the levels that follow. (p. 78)
Regarding PBL professional learning (or any other professional learning) the endgame is the impact we have on student learning, which is preceded by changes in teaching. So, we should be able to specify the different forms of evidence that will be used, both quantitative and qualitative, to determine if teaching and learning is improving or has improved as a result of project based learning. Some of these indicators may include: an analysis of Progress Assessment Tools (during projects and after the fact), formative assessments, summative assessments, final products, student reflections, student participation, student observations, classroom walkthroughs, and teacher observations.
To address Guskey’s lower levels, we turn to three forms of assessment.
In keeping with the theme of adult learning mimicking student learning, student learning involves three forms of assessment and therefore the same applies to adults:
Assessment of learning – This is summative assessment in which learners are assessed after the learning has taken place. Example: Students take an end-of-unit test, with no opportunities for redos, retakes, and do-overs. All grades are final.
Assessment for learning – These assessments are formative in nature (non-graded), and their results are used to drive instruction. Example: At the end of a lesson, the teacher gauges students’ progress with an exit ticket. Results are used to differentiate the next day’s instruction.
Assessment as learning – These are self-assessments, in which learners determine where they are and then what they need to do to meet their goals. Example: During independent work, students refer to their learning targets and success criteria to determine where they are in relation to where they need to be. They then adjust their work accordingly.[Read more…] about How Do I Lead Project Based Learning? – Evaluate Professional Learning #RealPBL (part 4 of 4)