A statistical analysis of Professional Learning Activities in Context: A Statewide Survey of Middle School Mathematics Teachers By: Motoko Akiba
I chose to look at a study that questioned the state-level professional development that is offered for middle school mathematics teachers in Missouri. This particular study surveyed teachers and collected data comparing the types of classrooms they taught in and the specific professional development activities they participated in. Teachers are an often overlooked group with regards to research in education. I chose to look at this article and the research it discussed because of the impact professional development has on students. This study had two closely related questions it was
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Teachers have informal communications with their colleagues and engage in individual learning activities on a sometimes daily basis. For this reason, the researchers chose to collect data through a teacher survey. The Teachers’ Opportunity to Learn (TOTL) survey was developed for this study and distributed to teachers in Missouri. The TOTL survey was sent statewide to 577 Missouri math teachers in 2009 to examine how much time those teachers spent involved in seven types of professional learning activities: 1) professional development programs, 2) teacher collaboration, 3) university courses, 4) professional conferences, 5) mentoring/coaching, 6) informal communications, and 7) individual learning activities. Since informal professional development was included in this study, a survey measuring the types of activities teachers engaged in and the amount of time they engaged in them was appropriate. But considering that this large-scale data was collected using surveys teachers filled out themselves, this alone provided a limitation of the study. It certainly allowed study participants to include everything they deemed an activity to be measured, but also left room for invalid data. Surveys can inadvertently use ambiguous wording, confuse readers, or not directly ask questions researchers want the surveyed to answer. This can cause skewed data to be collected and inaccurate conclusions to be drawn.
The article does a nice job in the introduction