Learning builds the bridge between research and practice

By Learning Forward
August 2011
Vol. 32 No. 4
One indisputable finding from our years of research on what it takes to conduct successful change in schools and colleges is this: Introducing new practices alone seldom results in new practices being incorporated into ongoing classroom practices. For example, we were dismayed at the recent release of two substantive studies of professional development (to support school improvement in mathematics and reading) that concluded that the professional development in each case was ineffective (Drummond et al., 2011; Randel et al., 2011). However, in both studies, the researchers did not as- sess implementation. It is hard to imagine how professional development can be judged if its implementation has not been documented. Such work, it would seem, is “the ap- praisal of a nonevent” (Charters & Jones, 1973).

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Gene E. Hall and Shirley M. Hord

Gene Hall ( is a professor of educational leadership at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His research focuses on understanding, evaluating, and facilitating change processes in organizations. 

Shirley Hord ( is scholar laureate of Learning Forward and former scholar emerita at Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, Austin, Texas. She writes about school-based professional development, leadership, school change and improvement, and professional learning communities. 


Charters, W.W., Jr. & Jones, J.E. (1973, November). On the risk of appraising non-events in program evaluation. Educational Researcher, 2(11), 5-7.

Drummond, K., Chinen, M., Duncan, T.G., Miller, H.R., Fryer, L., Zmach, C., & Culp, K. (2011). Impact of the Thinking Reader® software program on grade 6 reading vocabulary, comprehension, strategies, and motivation (NCEE 2010-4035). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

Hall, G.E. (1999, Summer). Using constructs and techniques from research to facilitate and assess implementation of an innovative mathematics curriculum. Journal of Classroom Interaction, 34(1), 1-8.

Hall, G.E. & Hord, S.M. (2011). Implementing change: Patterns, principles, and potholes (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Randel, B., Beesley, A.D., Apthorp, H., Clark, T.F., Wang, X., Cicchinelli, L.F., & Williams, J.M. (2011). Classroom assessment for student learning: The impact on elementary school mathematics in the central region (NCEE 2011-4005). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

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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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