Reprinted with permission from the chapter entitled Professional Development for Science Education: A Critical and Immediate Challenge, by Susan Loucks-Horsley., edited by Rodger Bybee of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., 1996. For more information call 1-800-KH-BOOKS (542-6657).
Another framework that has implications for thepracticesof professional development acknowledges that learning brings change, and supporting people in change is critical for learning to take hold. One model for change in individuals, the Concerns-Based Adoption Model, applies to anyone experiencing change, that is, policy makers, teachers, parents, students (Hall & Hord, 1987; Hord, Rutherford, Huling-Austin, & Hall, 1987; Loucks-Horsley & Stiegelbauer, 1991). The model (and other developmental models of its type) holds that people considering and experiencing change evolve in the kinds of questions they ask and in their use of whatever the change is. In general, early questions are more self-oriented: What is it? and How will it affect me? When these questions are resolved, questions emerge that are more task-oriented: How do I do it? How can I use these materials efficiently? How can I organize myself? and Why is it taking so much time? Finally, when self- and task concerns are largely resolved, the individual can focus on impact. Educators ask: Is this change working for students? and Is there something that will work even better?
The concerns model identifies and provides ways to assess seven stages of concern, which are displayed in Table 3. These stages have major implications for professional development. First, they point out the importance of attending to where people are and addressing the questions they are asking when they are asking them. Often, we get to the how-to-do-it before addressing self-concerns. We want to focus on student learning before teachers are comfortable with the materials and strategies. The kinds and content of professional- development opportunities can be informed by ongoing monitoring of the concerns of teachers. Second, this model suggests the importance of paying attention to implementation for several years, because it takes at least three years for early concerns to be resolved and later ones to emerge. We know that teachers need to have their self-concerns addressed before they are ready to attend hands-on workshops. We know that management concerns can last at least a year, especially when teachers are implementing a school years worth of new curricula and also when new approaches to teaching require practice and each topic brings new surprises. We also know that help over time is necessary to work the kinks out and then to reinforce good teaching once use of the new practice smoothes out. Finally, with all the demands on teachers, it is often the case that once their practice becomes routine, they never have the time and space to focus on whether and in what ways students are learning. This often requires some organizational priority setting, as well as stimulating interest and concern about specific student learning outcomes. We also know that everyone has concerns-for example, administrators, parents, policy makers, professional developers-and that acknowledging these concerns and addressing them are critical to progress in a reform effort.
Professional developers who know and use the concerns model design experiences for educators that are sensitive to the questions they are asking when they are asking them. Learning experiences evolve over time, take place in different settings, rely on varying degrees of external expertise, and change with participant needs. Learning experiences for different role groups vary in who provides them, what information they share, and how they are asked to engage. For instance, addressing parents and policy makers question How will it affect me? obviously will look different. The strength of the concerns model is in its reminder to pay attention to individuals and their various needs for information, assistance, and moral support.
Traditionally, those who provided professional development to teachers were considered to be trainers. Now, their roles have broadened immensely. Like teachers in science classrooms, they have to be facilitators, assessors, resource brokers, mediators of learning, designers, and coaches, in addition to being trainers when appropriate. Practitioners of professional development, often teachers themselves, have a new and wider variety ofpracticesto choose from in meeting the challenging learning needs of educators in todays science reform efforts.
Typical Expressions of Concern about an Innovation/ Table 3.
I have some ideas about something that would work even better.
How can I relate what I am doing to what others are doing?
How is my use affecting learners? How can I refine it to have more impact?
I seem to be spending all my time getting materials ready.
Levels of Use of the Innovation: Typical Behaviors
The user is seeking more effective alternatives to the established use of the innovation.
The user is making deliberate efforts to coordinate with others in using the innovation.
The user is making changes to increase outcomes.
The user is making few or no changes and has an established pattern of use.
The user is making changes to better organize use of the innovation.
The user has definite plans to begin using the innovation.
The user is taking the initiative to learn more about the innovation.
The user has no interest, is taking no action.
FromTaking Charge of Changeby Shirley M. Hord, William L. Rutherford, Leslie Huling-Austin, and Gene E. Hall, 1987. Published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (703) 549-9110 Reprinted with permission.