Lessons From Research

By Learning Forward
April 2015
14What The Study Says In this study of 16 teachers in two primary schools in the Netherlands, researchers built on findings from previous studies to demonstrate that a thoughtfully designed professional development program can be “effective and sustainable, if certain conditions are met” (p. 772) in changing teachers’ knowledge, beliefs, perceived problems, and classroom practices. Study description Linda Van den Bergh, Anje Ros, and Douwe Beijaard designed a teacher professional development program to improve teachers’ knowledge, beliefs, perceived problems, and classroom behaviors related to student feedback during active learning. Questions The study focused on the short- and long-term effects of a professional development program aimed at improving teacher feedback during active learning on: Primary school teachers’ beliefs regarding feedback during active learning; The problems primary

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Joellen Killion

Joellen Killion ( is senior advisor to Learning Forward. In each issue of JSD, Killion explores a recent research study to help practitioners understand the impact of particular professional learning practices on student outcomes.

At a Glance

Professional development to improve teachers’ practice in giving feedback to students during active learning is difficult. This small-scale, pre- and post-test study of teachers of 9- to 12-year-olds demonstrates that professional development thoughtfully designed applying research-based features influences teachers’ knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors.

The study

Van den Bergh, L., Ros, A., & Beijaard, D. (2014). Improving teacher feedback during active learning: Effects of a professional development program. American Educational Research Journal, 51(4), 772-809.

What This Means For Practitioners

Researchers provided evidence that well-designed professional development can result in changes in teachers’ beliefs, perceived problems, and behaviors when it builds on teachers’ existing knowledge, perceptions, and practices and when it integrates characteristics of effective professional learning.

The study confirms that deep change in teacher beliefs, perceived problems, and behaviors requires sustained support over time. Researchers conclude that it  is possible to enhance teachers’ classroom behavior in lasting ways by implementing a carefully designed professional development program (p. 804).

By improving teacher behavior associated with student academic success, such as feedback and active learning, professional development has the potential to improve student success.

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Learning Forward is the only professional association devoted exclusively to those who work in educator professional development. We help our members plan, implement, and measure high-quality professional learning so they can achieve success with their systems, schools, and students.

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