Determining effects of a web-based teachers’ professional development programme on teaching self-efficacy beliefs and classroom practice
Deshmukh, Ketan Satish
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The design of large-scale professional development (PD) programmes for teachers in the public schooling system faces two challenges. The first is identifying a suitable malleable construct which influences student performance, for designing interventions. Given the positive impact of teacher self-efficacy beliefs on student achievement, improving a teacher’s teaching self-efficacy beliefs is a desirable goal for a PD programme. Second, in a large resource-constrained public system, cost-effective reach is important. PD programs that have used technology judiciously for this purpose have shown promise, but the related research has reported mixed results, thus warranting further investigation. An online PD programme for Class 6-8 teachers in the public schooling system in Gujarat, aimed at improving teaching self-efficacy, provided the empirical context to study the effective use of technology in teacher training. A two-group randomized control trial was implemented to examine the effects of PD programme on self-efficacy beliefs. The PD design was in accordance with Desimone’s (2009) five core features PD programme viz. content focus, active learning, coherence, duration and collective participation. The study analyses survey responses of 19135 teachers and the classroom observations of 710 classrooms. The teachers who attended the online PD reported a positive change in subject-specific self-efficacy beliefs. Mixture modelling of participant activities found four latent profiles based on latent profile analysis of pageview logs of 7037 participants, and six latent classes based on latent class analysis of responses to off-platform activity questionnaire of 7794 respondents. The variation in off-platform activities was significantly associated with the change in self-efficacy beliefs of the participants. The different latent online profiles were mostly associated with variation in change of subject-specific self-efficacy beliefs. The comparison of classroom observation of participant teachers with non-participating teachers found no significant difference in teacher’s classroom actions (i.e. teacher activities & use of materials). But found significant difference in teacher’s use of textbooks (i.e. reading materials) in science classrooms. Finally, the teacher’s self-efficacy beliefs before training were found to be significantly associated with classroom activities, but the association of prior classroom activities to post-training self-efficacy beliefs was limited. The study provides insights on the "what works?" and "for whom?" questions in the context of large-scale PD for teachers.
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