How to apply professional learning research to your work

By Elizabeth Foster
February 2019
Vol. 40 No. 1
The first research column of 2019, at the beginning of this magazine’s 40th year, is a good time to pause and take stock of the state of research on professional learning. Research has always been important to our field, but we have a new opportunity to elevate its importance, thanks to recent policies and priorities — including the evidence provisions for professional learning initiatives in the Every Student Succeeds Act (see article on p. 12), which increases demand among state and district policymakers for evidence-based strategies and practices. In addition, we are seeing growing interest among philanthropy and practitioners in how to best use and support a range of research strategies, such as complementing extant studies with evidence from action research and improvement science approaches

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Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth Foster ( is associate director of standards, research, and strategy at Learning Forward. In each issue of The Learning Professional, Foster explores recent research to help practitioners understand the impact of particular professional learning practices on student outcomes.


Do you have thoughts about this study or have recommendations of other research you’d like to see us cover? Email me at


Existing Research


  • National Network for Education Research Practice Partnerships:

Standards for Professional Learning

The evidence base

  • State Supports for Title II Implementation (webinar):
  • Title II Impact Story Survey:

The Learning Professional

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