Professional Development

A key issue with using Multi-User Virtual Environments for classroom assessment is the teacher acceptance. Whether and how teachers accept the technology solutions of MUVEs will have impact on implementation and thus on student achievement. To support teachers in using and accepting these assessment modules, SAVE Science conducts professional development sessions each year, following the model used in River City that evolved over the past six years.

This professional development pays special attention to the aspects of project Co-Principal Investigator Catherine Schifter’s professional development model. Schifter spent seven years studying the implementation of three different technology-related grants into a large northeastern school district and the related professional development. From her research, she developed a framework for ensuring short- or long-term success of any technology-related professional development.

Specifically, Schifter’s model includes four factors:

  1. Time to practice, to develop interest and knowledge, to evaluate usefulness for one’s own classroom and students, to try new skills with students and to adopt or reject the technology based on these opportunities;
  2. Effective, ongoing, post-training technical support in the classroom;
  3. Ongoing communication and local social support system, including significant support from the principal and/or other influential school staff; and
  4. Changes in classroom structures, roles, behaviors, knowledge, understanding and values of technology in classrooms.

While these principles are important for any professional development effort, they are particularly important with technology to ensure teacher and acceptance of the technology solution. This model informs the teacher training for the SAVE Science project. Professional development sessions are conducted in a collegial supportive environment, and cover how to use the technology, the resulting data and the possible value of that data. Just in time support is offered throughout. After the first implementation, time is devoted to reflecting within the community of implementing teachers on teacher comfort with the technology, their perceived efficacy of the assessments and the impact on students.