Professional Learning

Evidence-Based Practices

Evidence-based teaching strategies are as important for the adult learner as they are for our students. Many practices are considered research-based, as a practice can be developed based on some form of underlying research or science. However, to be evidence-based, the practice must also have been a part of the research. In other words, a strategy or methodology should have been rigorously evaluated for positive outcomes. Furthermore, efficacy must have been evaluated by someone other than just the people or organizations that developed the strategy. An evidence-based practice (EBP) is not simply based on learning theory or science, it is backed by evidence of positive outcomes for teachers and students.

 Outcomes include positive changes in teaching practices leading to improved student performance. 

What is Evidence Based Professional Learning Practice?

Evidence-based Professional Learning Practice (referred to as EBP) refers to a strategy or methodology that was originated from or informed by evidence. EBP has been evaluated and proven to improve student outcomes. The practice is expected to yield positive outcomes upon implementation at a district or state based on prior evidence of efficacy. Examples include:

  • Reflective Practice: Professional learning that includes reflective practice. There are numerous studies in the medical and education fields on the efficacy of implementing a reflective step in professional learning. Many professional development programs and systems include a step or section on reflective practice, where the learner (teacher) deliberately takes time to reflect on something that they have learned or observed and adapt teaching strategies according to reflection in order to improve outcomes. 
  • Coaching: Coaching is a common evidence-based practice across many occupations, and education is a field where a great deal of research has been conducted and evidence has been produced. 

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E-Learning for Educators: Effects of Online Professional Development on Teachers and Their Students. This webinar discusses the e-Learning model and the research findings of the large-scale studies conducted by the e-Learning for Educators (eFE) project. These studies demonstrated that high-quality online teacher professional development can positively affect teacher content knowledge and teaching practices. 

The Path to Instructional Excellence and Equitable Outcomes explores District of Columbia Public Schools’ Learning Together to Advance our Practice (LEAP) research-based program. According to the publication, this program helps teachers become experts at teaching high-quality, standards-aligned content.

The North Carolina Digital Leaders Coaching Network seeks to provide the instructional technologists, instructional coaches, mentor teachers, and media coordinators with ongoing and job-embedded professional learning opportunities to build capacity in digital and personalized learning and acquire strategies and knowledge related to best practices in leadership, coaching and support of educators and students in their schools. 96% of coaches implemented change in their schools.

The Learning Differences MOOC-Ed offered through the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation offers educators a professional learning opportunity to increase their knowledge of learning differences and expand their portfolio of strategies for working with students with diverse learning needs. Over the last seven years, 8,000 participants, representing 90 countries, participated in the Learning Differences MOOC-Ed. On average 98% of participants who completed the post course survey stated that they changed teaching practice after completing the course.

Teacher Professional Learning in the United States: Case Studies of State Policies and Strategies conducted case studies of four states to get a deeper look at the policy frameworks that support professional development in those states —Colorado, Missouri, New Jersey, and Vermont.

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