Capturing Instructional Practice At Scale: Conceptualizing and Describing the Professional Practice of Teachers and Coaches

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Boguslav, Arielle, Education - School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
Cohen, Julie, ED-CISE Department, University of Virginia

Great teachers change students’ lives. Just having a single great primary school teacher can increase a student’s lifetime earnings by $16,000. At the same time, teacher effectiveness is highly variable and often the most disadvantaged students are assigned to the least effective teachers. Improving teacher effectiveness requires, among other things, effective teacher preparation and professional development experiences that support the development of professional expertise and enable teachers to successfully adapt to changing conditions and incorporate new research insights into their practice. This dissertation contributes to the literature on effective teacher preparation and professional development.

The first chapter addresses the need for formative assessments of pre-service teachers’ instructional practice that teacher educators and teacher preparation programs can use to provide tailored supports and make programmatic improvements over time. While there is a robust literature on measures of in-service teachers’ instructional practice, literature focused on the pre-service period is sparse. Yet the pre-service period is pivotal in setting pre-service teachers up for success as they become teachers of record. Furthermore, the pre-service period presents unique measurement challenges that are not addressed in the literature on in-service measures. In the second and third chapters, I focus specifically on the needs of coaches who support teacher development through ongoing dialogue with teachers about the day-to-day details of a teacher’s classroom and instruction. Coaching is widespread, highly valued by teachers, and supported by robust evidence of its effectiveness for supporting teacher development and student learning. Together, this makes coaching one of the most promising levers for ensuring that all students have access to high quality instruction. Yet, researchers know little about the specific mechanisms and features that make coaching effective, making it difficult to identify goals for coach preparation or develop formative assessment tools that provide information about coaching quality. The second chapter therefore focuses on identifying a range of features that may matter, while the third chapter explores the relationship between specific features and teachers’ instructional practice to generate initial evidence about which features may be most promising.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
teacher professional development, teacher coaching, teacher preparation, teacher education
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