Principles of Teacher Professional Development

Professional development programs are meant to provide teachers with opportunities to develop their professional abilities for teaching in particular domains. Current trends in research in TPD view teachers as professionals and TPD programs take the form of providing teachers with learning opportunities to enhance their in-class teaching abilities through processes that engage them in theory-driven pedagogical changes in their teaching practices.

  • Research in TPD over the past decade has revealed a number of principles that are important in supporting teacher learning during TPD programs and helping teachers develop themselves through those programs. Generally speaking, TPD can address a variety of teacher needs, focusing on helping teachers refine their teaching approaches and pedagogy, understanding the need to change their everyday practices in particular areas and helping them implement changes in their daily teaching that will eventually help their students to learn more effectively[1].
  • Issues related to place, the degree of formality, frequency and duration of TPD programs have been shown over the years to influence the effectiveness of programs. School based programs seem to help teachers better relate TPD to their needs and adapt changes in teaching to their day-to-day practices. TPD programs with frequent meetings (e.g. once or twice a month) are also related to better TPD outcomes. This also applies to the total duration of the programs. Longer programs have more sustainable outcomes, as changes in teaching practice usually take a significant amount of time to become embedded. Research suggests that teachers need time to develop, absorb, discuss, and implement new practices and knowledge[2]., relating to both the span of time over which the PD activities are spread and the number of hours spent in the PD activities[3]. Once teachers begin to apply new knowledge and skills to their practice, short TPDP usually offer limited follow-up[4], fail to meet the on-going pedagogical needs of teachers and are rather disconnected from day-to-day teaching practice[5].
  • The degree to which the activities in TPDs emphasize the collective participation of teachers is also important to consider. Changes in teaching behaviour and practices become an on-going and collective responsibility[1] and can be enhanced by extending collaboration between teachers, school-based teacher mentors, university researchers and curriculum developer mentors[2]. The organization and the structure of the PD activities are of additional importance. Productive TPD programs need to provide teachers with opportunities to identify areas that need to be further developed by teachers themselves. Then, it is also of equal importance that teachers/participants actively engaged in the various steps/processes etc. of the TPD program do not see themselves as trainees but as learners.

Based on the above, there are a large number of tools that teacher educators may utilize in order to support TPD programs. These could include amongst others:

  • Reflective journals.
  • Peer-group meetings without a formal pre-defined agenda.
  • Collection of data from teaching practice.
  • An event at the end to share knowledge, experiences and expertise.



[1] Cochran-Smith & Lytle (1999). Title of resource. Retrieved of <link>; McLaughlin & Talbert (1993). Title of resource. Retrieved of <link>.

[2] Gerard, et al. (2011). Title of resource. Retrieved of <link>.

[1] Fishman, J. J., Marx, R. W., Best, S., & Tal, R. T. (2003). Linking teacher and student learning to improve professional development in systemic reform. Teaching and Teacher Education, 19, 643–658.

[2] Garet, M., Porter, A., Desimone, L. Birman, B., & Yoon, K. (2001). What makes professional development effective? Analysis of a national sample of teachers. American Education Research Journal, 38(4), 915-945.

[3] e.g., Cohen, D. K., & Hill, H. C. (2001). Learning policy: When state education reform works. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press

[4] Penuel, W. R., Fishman, B. J., Yamaguchi, R., & Gallagher, L. P. (2007). What makes professional development effective? Strategies that foster curriculum implementation. American Educational Research Journal, 44(4), 921-958.

[5] Gross, D., Truesdale, C., & Bielec, S. (2001). Backs to the wall: Supporting teacher professional development with technology. Educational Research and Evaluation, 7(2), 161–183


Pilot implementation and evaluation at schools

This “Modular Teacher Professional Development Toolkit” was developed to help teachers work more gender inclusive and to finally restore the gender balance in STEM vocations. In this modular toolkit, there are 25 activities tested by several teacher trainers. Depending on priorities, demands and time limitation, each trainer preferred to use a few of activities among others in their teacher training, which usually took one day.

The developed Teacher Training toolkit was tested in eight pilots during 2016 (all partners from the STING project participated in the testing). The individual reports of Elhuyar, Experimentarium, NTNU, St. Mary’s University College, Ustanova Hiša eksperimentov, NEMO, AS Cyprus College Limited and Hacettepe University were used to improve the toolkit you have now in your hands.