Strength lies in combining curriculum with professional learning

By Elizabeth Foster
June 2020
Vol. 41, No. 3
In a recent meta-analysis, researchers Lynch, Hill, Gonzalez, and Pollard found that instructional improvement programs — an approach combining professional learning and curriculum or instructional materials — had a positive impact on student outcomes. The impact was greater than either professional development or introducing new materials alone. Amidst a lot of discussion about whether a focus on instructional materials or professional learning is more effective, this meta-analysis offers a productive step forward by showing that strength lies in the combination of approaches. A meta-analysis, conducted by pooling the findings of multiple randomized controlled trial or quasi-experimental studies to determine the average effect across multiple studies, can eliminate particularities of individual studies, such as those conducted in unique school settings or with a specific set of

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Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth Foster ( is vice president, research & standards 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.

The Study
Lynch, K., Hill, H.C., Gonzalez, K., & Pollard, C. (2019). Strengthening STEM instruction in schools: Learning from research. (EdWorkingPaper: 19-142).


Hill, H.C. & Lynch, K. (2019). STEM professional development that works. ARISE.

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