Research School Network: NEW Rapid Evidence Assessment – Remote Professional Development From 17 systematic reviews and meta-analyses – approaches for schools to support staff professional development remotely.

NEW Rapid Evidence Assessment – Remote Professional Development

From 17 systematic reviews and meta-analyses – approaches for schools to support staff professional development remotely.

by Staffordshire Research School
on the

This rapid evidence assessment aimed to summarise the efficacy of remote professional development (PD) approaches to support school leaders and PD providers with decisions they are making about PD provision given social distancing requirements caused by the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. 

Key findings and implications
1. Professional development can be supported effectively remotely

  • School professionals can gain knowledge and skills through remote PD, ultimately leading to gains in pupil outcomes. 
  • Evidence is mixed as to whether remotely delivered PD is more or less effective than face-to-face PD, but specific benefits include lower costs and time incurred through travel. Other design principles are likely to be more important to PD outcomes than whether delivery is face-to-face or remote. There is no strong evidence that school-based PD should be delayed until it can be delivered face to face.
  • Blending synchronous and asynchronous delivery and blending face-to-face and remote learning may offer specific benefits by enabling trainees to feel part of a community while retaining travel cost savings, flexibility and social distance during remote and asynchronous elements.

2. Remote coaching, mentoring and expert support can be effective alone or as part of broader PD programmes

  • Coaching and mentoring can improve skills and knowledge of professionals when delivered remotely and may reduce feelings of isolation in professionals.
  • Remote or blended coaching, mentoring and expert support can be used to complement broader remote or blended PD programmes.

3. The use of video can enhance remote PD

  • The use of video is identified across a number of reviews as a particularly effective element of PD that enables teaching staff to review their own and reflect on others’ actions in the classroom. The targeted use of videos generally increases the time trainees take to complete PD but is associated with gains in practitioner knowledge and pupil outcomes, suggesting the additional time might be spent engaging more closely with the content.
  • Video viewing is unlikely to be impactful in isolation and should instead be paired with other learning resources such as viewing guides or discussion with other professionals. One contradictory finding (though not limited to remote PD) suggests caution and monitoring is necessary when using video resources to support coaching conversations.

4. Interactive content and opportunities for collaboration hold promise for remote professional development

  • More interactive content tends to increase the time practitioners take to complete PD and is associated with better completion rates, knowledge and skill acquisition. Spaced education approaches (such as regular email surveys) could be particularly promising and may offer a low-cost way of enabling ongoing interaction with PD content. Conversely, barriers such as information being difficult to access can have a detrimental effect on user engagement.
  • Collaboration between colleagues may also improve PD outcomes through enabling reflective practice and collective problem-solving. For example, PD providers may include peer small-group discussion sessions following completion of individual tasks.

5. Remote professional development requires supportive school conditions (support from leaders, protected time, tech-specific training, platform ease of access)

  • School leaders have a critical role to play in ensuring enabling conditions are provided for remote PD to be successful. They can support staff to prioritise their PD by creating protected time within the working day for staff to engage with PD sessions or materials.
  • Schools should ensure staff have access to technology required for their PD and appropriate training in order to access this safely, efficiently and appropriately. PD outcomes are strengthened where the purpose of the PD, roles and expectations are clear; this may require co-ordination from the PD provider, trainee, and school leadership team.

You can download a copy of this summary below and access the full report from the EEF website here.

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