Instructional Technologies



Educational Development Center


Mike Russell at russelmh@bc.edu


Building a System of Tens, Math Assessment
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Building Algebraic Thinking, Pre-Survey
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Building Algebraic Thinking, Post-Survey
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Student Math Survey
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Pedagogy Assessment, Building a System of Tens, Year 3
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Pedagogy Assessment, Building Algebraic Thinking, Year 4
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Optimizing the Impact of Online Professional Development

The Optimizing the Impact of Online Professional Development study commenced in the spring of 2004 and aimed to measure the extent to which teachers' knowledge, beliefs and practices in algebra changes after participating in the online course. Through this online course, called Building Algebraic Thinking in the Middle Grades, teachers from all over the country and Mexico had the opportunity to integrate professional development into their teaching schedules with the convenience and flexibility of online learning.

Online professional development (OPD) has rapidly come into widespread use in the past few years. OPD designers have begun to define recommendations for effective practices, based on analyses of existing OPD programs, surveys gauging the reactions of participants to specific online learning experiences, conceptual comparisons of online and face-to-face learning, and generalizations of principles of effective professional development in face-to-face contexts. While this information is useful to those designing and implementing OPD programs, it lacks a solid research base. Many key questions about how to effectively design and implement OPD, and its impact on teachers’ knowledge and practices, remain unanswered.

This project aimed to provide a solid research base about the effectiveness of online professional development to impact both content knowledge and professional practices of middle school teachers. The overarching goal of the study was to identify the OPD design factors that maximize the conditions for effective professional development. Specifically, our research addressed three major questions:

  1. What is the comparative impact on teachers' content knowledge and instructional practices of alternative models of online professional development?

  2. How do the types of interactions among participants and between participants and workshop leaders differ across different online professional development models, and are these differences related to participants' satisfaction, knowledge acquisition, and changes in practice?

  3. What are the factors that maximize the impact of online professional development on teachers' content knowledge and instructional practices?

To address these questions, we developed and implemented a series of professional development workshops, designed to enable us to contrast different pedagogical approaches, means of online communication, and blends of online and onsite activities.

inTASC worked in conjunction with the Educational Development Center (EDC).