EDTC6104 ISTE standards

Designing Professional Development to Improve Student Learning

“You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”

– Michael Jordan

Retrieved on Aug 23, 2021 from

The article Bridging the Gap: Technology Trends and Use of Technology in Schools, explains that

1) technology use in schools is not intensive and extensive, and that

2) there is no evidence that using technology in schools results in increased productivity, or an increase in student achievement.

The authors point out that researchers have repeatedly suggested that successful policy implementation requires clearly defined goals directly connected to student learning (e.g., Fullan, 2001) They further explain that adopting technology does not necessarily equate to gains in student performance. The way technology is used by teachers and students is what can lead to improved learning outcomes.

ISTE for Coaches Standard 3 states that “Coaches establish productive relationships with educators in order to improve instructional practice and learning outcomes.” Considering that coaches need to “personalize support for educators by planning and modeling the effective use of technology to improve student learning,” as explained in standard 3e, I pose the following question.

What characteristics of professional development show the relationship between use of technology and improvement of student learning?

The article Bridging the Gap explains that there is difficulty in judging the success of technology use because there are many factors influencing its success (or lack thereof). Furthermore, there is a lack of specific goals and models that ensure successful use and implementation of technology. One of the recommendations is to develop a technology plan that “describes the learning objectives, how the technology will be used and how it will be evaluated.” (pg 64).  

Similarly, the article Connecting Professional Development to Student Learning Gains (2006) investigates the following questions:

Does professional development influence student achievement?

How do we know if our staff training program did, in fact, bring about our intended learning outcomes?

How can we judge the effectiveness of our professional development?

The coaches’ and teachers’ ultimate goal is to improve student achievement. Coaches need to not only have clear learning goals for the teachers they coach, but also for the end and most important recipients, the students.    

The author, John H. Holloway, concludes that the characteristics necessary for professional development that can be linked to improvement of student performance include:

  • Focusing on teacher content knowledge and teaching skills
  • Include student learning goals and the training outcomes in an evidence-based way.
  • Sustained training over time
  • Include time to think, analyze and talk about what is going on in the classroom, specifically what students are doing and what they are learning.
  • Using as a guide and including student data as part of the professional development
  • Making the training part of the daily routine
  • Allow teachers to partake in the planning of their training

There are countless resources and professional development sessions that present proven strategies to improve student learning, but often lack on step: the evaluation. What evidence is there to show that professional development increased student achievement? After the professional development, did teachers master the new skill or did they just become aware of it? Did teachers have all the tools and support to implement the new skills or do they need further support? Did teachers keep record of what they did and the results or no one knows? Were teachers successful or did they encounter challenges and stop trying?

The Brookings report “Realizing the promise: How can education technology improve learning for all?” explains that “an important first step is understanding how technology is used given specific local contexts and needs.”  The results of any professional development will be influenced by many factors, hence the need to personalize the teacher’s learning experience by including them in the planning of their training, focusing on their specific goals, including in the professional development time for planning, practice, feedback, self-reflection, sessions to analyze the data, and opportunities to keep improving.


Cher Ping Lim, Yong Zhao, Jo Tondeur, Ching Sing Chai, & Chin-Chung Tsai. (2013). Bridging the Gap: Technology Trends and Use of Technology in Schools. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 16(2), 59-68. Retrieved August 14, 2021, from

Ganimian, A. J., Vegas, E., & Hess, F. M. (2020) Realizing the promise: How can education technology improve learning for all? Brookings.

Holloway, J. H. (2006) Connecting professional development to student learning gains. Science Educator, 15(1), 37-43.

ISTE standards for coaches  ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE

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