Teachers’ perceptions of key aspects of the professional learning environment, which are linked to teacher learning, in a specific professional development session. The survey is designed for use in collaborative professional learning contexts (such as a group of teachers who meet regularly over a sustained period of time).
Use this measure:
PMRR’s Collaborative Professional Learning Measure can be accessed by registering at the PMRR website: pmr2.org.
Note: PMRR’s Recommended Conditions for Use of the Collaborative Professional Learning Measure and annotated version of the measure (accessed through the PMRR website) provide important guidelines on using this PMRR measure as part of instructional improvement work, and the research base informing this measure. Much of this overview is drawn from these resources.
Measurement instrument overview
This short teacher survey takes about 5 minutes to complete, and is administered at the end of a professional development session. The survey measures are designed to inform the learning of professional development facilitators striving to create high-quality professional learning experiences for teachers.
Several slightly different versions of the survey are available, to account for different professional learning contexts (e.g., whether the group meets primarily as a whole group or includes a whole group and small groups, whether the group does mathematics together, whether members teach multiple classes of students).
Connection to student learning
The PMRR Collaborative Professional Learning survey supports facilitators of collaborative professional learning in assessing teacher perceptions of the learning environment.
Drawing on research about teacher learning, the items in this professional development experience survey align with four key features of collaborative professional learning:
- Discussion practices: the extent to which teachers collaborate productively by developing ideas through authentic inquiry, pressing for evidence, and challenging each other’s ideas
- Deprivatization of practice: teachers’ willingness to be vulnerable and share their own practice with others, and the extent to which they see this as valuable
- Relevance: teachers’ perceptions of the feasibility and responsiveness of the professional learning experience
- Membership in community: the extent to which teachers believe they are valued members of the group and see value in collaborative learning
PMRR’s annotated version of the survey, accessed through the PMRR website (user registration required), contains more information on these features of collaborative professional development, and the research base behind them.
In addition, the survey creators recognize the focus of professional learning discussions as a critical dimension of high-quality professional development and are currently developing items to capture this dimension.
What we know about how well this measure works for its intended use
The PMRR Collaborative Professional Learning survey developers completed 18 design cycles across six different professional learning models to improve the rigor of this tool. The initial design began with a review of the extant literature on teacher learning, with a focus on mathematics teacher learning. This literature review led to the five key features of professional learning that the survey was designed to measure: 1) focus of discussion; 2) discussion practices; 3) deprivatization of practice; 4) relevance; and 5) membership in community.
The survey was refined through iterative testing cycles. Survey developers administered the tool in various professional development contexts, interviewed participating teacher learners to capture their interpretation of survey items, discussed the resulting data with the professional development facilitators to understand whether and how the data might inform facilitators’ practice, and refined the survey design based on feedback they gathered.
The survey tool can be implemented in a variety of settings, including both in job-embedded professional development, and in “pull out” professional development contexts. It has been tested in professional learning communities adhering to a range of professional learning models, including those that engage teachers in math tasks, analyze video-recording of instruction, co-design lessons, examine student work, enact teaching together in classrooms, and conduct other activities. The tool has also been tested in groups with a range of history of working together.
A full list of ongoing research regarding the use of the PMRR measures can be found on the PMRR website.
This tool should be administered by the facilitator(s) as often as necessary to support improvement goals. The survey is designed to be completed at the conclusion of a collaborative professional learning session.
Measurement routine details
Prior to the start of a collaborative professional learning experience, the facilitator(s) should identify the version of the survey that matches the collaborative learning context (e.g., primarily whole-group interactions, mix of small-group interactions).
The survey is designed to be administered at the end of a professional learning session. Facilitators should set aside at least 7 minutes to complete the survey.
Administering the survey in a timely manner supports teacher recall and allows the facilitator to orient teachers toward the segment of the professional development that facilitators are most interested in learning more about. Because the survey was designed to be aggregated at the level of a professional learning group, as many of the same teachers as possible should complete the survey during each administration to allow for greater confidence when comparing responses across administrations.
While paper copies of the survey are available, an electronic version (e.g., Google Form) can better protect teacher anonymity. Facilitators can also administer the survey via the edsight.io platform (developed by PMRR), which allows users to schedule the administration of the measure, collect and visualize data, look at trends over time, and record notes and link to artifacts related to the session.
Once surveys are completed, the facilitator should review the results with at least one collaborator/co-facilitator present to make sense of the data together. The collaborator may or may not have been present for the session, but can nonetheless engage in collaborative inquiry with the facilitator and discuss next steps and changes to try.
The facilitator can then implement the changes in following sessions, collect additional feedback, and continue to debrief results with their co-reviewer(s). This routine establishes a learning cycle through which facilitators can use the survey tool to measure changes in teacher perceptions of the professional learning experience over time.
Additional recommendations can be found in PMRR’s Recommended Conditions for Use document.
Data analysis details
The survey is designed to be aggregated at the level of a professional learning group. To protect the anonymity of teachers, the survey should not be disaggregated in any way and should not be used to assess the progress of individual teachers.
The Edsight.io platform, developed by the PMRR team, supports the collection and visualization of data. Edsight.io data representations are intentionally designed to support facilitators’ data inquiry.
An annotated copy of the survey (available on the PMRR website) connects the survey items to teacher learning, and can support facilitators’ investigation of teachers’ responses. (PMRR is developing protocols to support facilitators to engage in cycles of inquiry.) The few open response items on the survey can add nuance to teacher responses, and when analyzed alongside closed responses, can provide a window into teachers’ thinking.
Additional issues to consider related to survey data analysis and aggregation can be found in PMRR’s Recommended Conditions for Use document.
Conditions that support use
- As with most practical measures, use of the survey should be part of an ongoing plan for instructional improvement in mathematics.
- The survey was designed to be implemented in a facilitated professional learning context with a designated facilitator (as opposed to a professional learning community that is co-led by a team of teachers, for example).
- It is important for the facilitator to have a co-facilitator or collaborator to help debrief learning sessions, make sense of survey results, plan next steps, and reflect on whether resulting changes to facilitation are leading to improvements. The collaborator does not need to be present for the professional development sessions and can be someone in a similar or different role to the main facilitator, including subject matter coaches, district leaders, and/or external consultants.
- For teachers to feel comfortable providing truthful responses, the PMRR team found it important to assure teachers that their responses would not be seen by school or district level individuals who assess teachers. It is also important for teachers to feel that facilitators genuinely value their responses.
- As with all practical measures, the survey is intended to inform improvement efforts and guide conversations and reflections. The tool should never be used to evaluate a facilitator or teacher’s work.
These supporting conditions were drawn from PMRR’s Recommended Conditions for Use document, which contains further details on the professional learning and district, school, and program contexts to support use of the survey.
- Some schools or districts, especially those without a preexisting culture of data sharing, may have privacy concerns around sharing and discussing data.
- School or district settings lacking some of the supporting conditions listed above may face challenges in using this tool.
Other tools and resources to support use
PMRR’s Recommended Conditions for Use of the Collaborative Professional Learning Measure: The Recommended Conditions for Use document provides guidance regarding how PMRR’s classroom practical measures should and should not be used in service of instructional improvement. PMRR generated these conditions of use based on systematic inquiry into the use of the measures in their partner districts. Included in the document are the following:
- Recommended conditions of use
- Recommendations for data analysis
- Technical suggestions and frequently asked questions about preparing to administer the measures, administering the measures, and analyzing the resulting data after administration
PMRR’s annotated version of the survey, accessed through the PMRR website (user registration required), contains more information on the features of collaborative professional development measured by the survey, and the research base behind them.
The PMRR Collaborative Professional Learning survey can be an “eye-opening” experience for facilitators seeking to elevate their craft as professional development leaders. The Teachers Development Group serves as one such example, where Reina, a veteran secondary teacher of 28 years and experienced facilitator, used the survey feedback to encourage teachers to step out of their comfort zone and try out their new learning in the classroom.
Reina was working with a group of five middle school teachers and one student teacher in winter through spring of 2021 on increasing students’ opportunities to reason about important mathematical ideas in the classroom. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, the professional development sessions were held virtually. After the second session, Reina gathered eye-opening survey data when teachers were asked to respond to the following item: “I feel ready to try something I learned today in: a) all of my math classes, b) some of my math classes, or c) none of my math classes.”
In reviewing the survey responses, Reina learned that only three teachers were ready to try something in all of their classes, while the other three said they would try in some classes. One teacher noted that they felt comfortable putting their learning into practice with their accelerated 7th grade class only. Another teacher noted that they were hesitant to try with one particular class that was “so unwilling to participate openly.”
These results were surprising to Reina, who had previously witnessed the teachers’ willingness to put their learning into practice. What she did not know was that some teachers were selective about the classes in which they were making these instructional shifts. Reina marked these responses as “red flags” because she remained certain that she was sharing good teaching practices with the teachers—and good teaching should happen everyday for all students.
In response to the immediate feedback she received after administering the survey in March, Reina used two April sessions to better understand why teachers were not trying the pedagogical practices they were learning with all of their classes and to have explicit conversations with the teachers about what happens when teachers do not provide opportunities to engage in rigorous mathematics learning conversations for all students. When teachers were surveyed again in May, all five participating teachers said they were willing to try something they learned in all of their classes. With the help of the PMRR tool, and the open-ended responses in particular, Reina was able to adapt her practice and witness a change in teachers’ perceptions regarding the value and usability of the professional development content.
Kara Jackson, PMRR Co-PI and associate professor at the University of Washington College of Education
Hannah Nieman, Postdoctoral Research Scientist at University of Washington College of Education
PMRR. (2021). Recommended conditions for use of the Collaborative Professional Learning Measure. Retrieved February 2021 from University of Washington: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_fR5FqLP6kcU-dcC_4b0rAUlrA3uPNYMqxSnQeWiarg/edit
PMRR. (2021). Collaborative Professional Learning Measure: Annotated copy. Retrieved January 2022 from University of Washington: https://www.pmr2.org