Study spotlights effectiveness of social and professional networks

By Learning Forward
October 2018
Vol. 39 No. 5
Professional learning approaches and programs do not drop from the sky fully formed. Yet often those who are expected to engage in them — teachers and other staff — have little information about how these approaches developed and the type of expertise that shaped them. What goes into creating them? What kind of knowledge do the developers of professional learning need — and do they currently have it? A recent study by Northwestern University researchers Richard Paquin Morel and Cynthia Coburn examined one potentially important element: the system of support and resources to which professional learning developers have access. The researchers studied both “system” providers (such as schools, districts, and education policymakers) and “nonsystem” providers (such as textbook publishers, nonprofits, and commercial enterprises). Both groups

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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 a recent research study to help practitioners understand the impact of particular professional learning practices on student outcomes.

The Study
Morel, R.P. & Coburn, C. (2018, August). Access, activation, and influence: How brokers mediate social capital among professional development providers. American Educational Research Journal.

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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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