Darling-Hammond & Richardson Teacher Learning

Darling-Hammond, L., & Richardson, N. (2009, February). Teacher learning: What matters?.  Educational Leadership, 46 - 53.

Summary: This article appeared in Educational Leadership. It is an article that briefly describes a review of the literature on effective professional development.

High-Quality Professional Development: A New Definition

  • Content: Centered on Student Learning

    • "The most useful professional development emphasizes active teacher, assessment, observation, and reflection rather than abstract discussions (Darling-Hammond & McLaughlin, 1995) (p. 47)."
    • "In a recent national survey (Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman, & Yoon, 2001), teachers reported that their knowledge and skills grew and their practice changed when they received professional development that was coherent, focused on content knowledge, and involved active learning (p. 47)." (A survey is self-report data. What data is out there that shows alignment between this type of data and practice? Do we have it in SYP?)
  • Context: Integrated with School Improvement

    • "To avoid disparities between what teachers learn in professional development work and what they can actually implement in their classrooms, schools should seamlessly link curriculum, assessment, standards, and professional learning opportunities (p. 48)."
    • The literature suggests that effective professional development exists collaborative and collegial learning environments which the focus moves beyond individual classrooms to school-wide change (Darling-Hammond & McLaughlin, 1995; Hord, 1997; Knapp, 2003; Louis, Marks, & Kruse, 1996; Perez et al., 2007).
    • (In SYP - have we created a critical mass at PFE? What evidence would exist to show that we have a critical mass?)
  • Design: Active, Sustained Learning

    • "In a review of nine studies, Yoon, Duncan, Less, Scarloss, and Shapley (2007) found that sustained and intensive professional development was related to student achievement (p. 49)."
  • Professional Learning Communities: The New Paradigm
  • "Research Supports Professional Development That

    • Deepens teachers' knowledge of content and how to teach it to students.
    • Helps teachers understand how students learn specific content.
    • Provides opportunities for active, hands-on learning.
    • Enables teachers to acquire new knowledge, apply it to practice, and reflect on the results with colleagues.
    • Is part of a school reform effort that links curriculum, assessment, and standards to professional learning.
    • Is collaborative and collegial.
    • Is intensive and sustained over time. (p. 49)."
  • "Research Doe Not Support Professional Development That

    • Relies on the one-shot workshop model.
    • Focuses only on training teachers in new techniques and behaviors.
    • Is not related to teachers' specific contexts and curriculums.
    • Is episodic and fragmented.
    • Expects teachers to make changes in isolation and without support.
    • Does not provide sustained teacher learning opportunities over multiple days and weeks. (p. 49)."

The Old Paradigm

  • Conditions That Support Joint Work

    • "The human and social resources needed for professional community included supportive leadership, mutual respect steeped in strong professional knowledge, and a climate that invited risk taking and innovation (p. 50)."
    • "Like all professional development, a professional learning community's interactions should focus on improving instructional practice. To identify problems, group members must make their practice public to colleagues and take an inquiry stance (p. 50)."

The New Paradigm

  • "Research points to the effectiveness of sustained, job-embedded, collaborative teacher learning strategies (p. 52)."
  • "Current research suggests that providing intensive, content-rich, and collegial learning opportunities for teachers can improve both teaching and student learning (p. 52)."


  • Darling-Hammond, L., & McLaughlin, M. W. (1995). Policies that support professional development in an era of reform. Phi Delta Kappan, 76(8), 597 - 604.
  • Garet, M., Porter, A., Desimone, L., Birman, B., Yoon, K. (2001). What makes professional development effective? Results from a national sample of teachers. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 915-945.
  • Hord, S. (1997). Professional learning communities: Communities of continuous inquiry and improvement. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.
  • Knapp, M. S. (2003). Professional development as policy pathway. Review of Research in Education, 27(1), 109 - 157.
  • Louis, K S., Marks, H. M., & Kruse, S. (1996). Professional community in restructuring schools. American Educational Research Journal, 33, 757 - 798.
  • Perez, M., Anand, P., Speroni, C., Parrish, T., Esra, P., Socias, M., & Grubbins, P. (2007). Successful California schools in the context of educational adequacy. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research.
  • Yoon, K. S., Duncan, T., Lee, S. W. Y., Scarloss, B., & Shapley, K. (2007). Reviewing the evidence on how teacher professional development affects student achievement (Issues and Answers Report, REL 2007 No. 033). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest.