Factors Influencing Staff Development

Motivation

Adults, like children, learn better when they perceive a need for the information they are learning. Staff development should provide teachers with authentic, meaningful tasks that relate to improving classroom instruction.

Helping teachers improve instruction must focus on more than just "going through the motions of teaching." Showers, Joyce, and Bennett (1987) analyzed more than two hundred research studies on staff development and concluded that a major factor in how teachers teach is how they think about teaching. Staff development should help teachers increase their knowledge and learn to think about their instructional decisions. Having a basic level of knowledge about an innovation is important in helping teachers "buy in" to it (Showers et al., 1987).

Location, Type, and Time

Over the last fifteen years the emphasis on staff development has evolved in many districts from one-large-group, one-shot workshop sessions to more comprehensive, collaborative approaches that focus on the individual needs and concerns of teachers (Waxman, 1987). Researchers have found that the exact location of the staff development meetings (school, district office, and so forth) is not a significant factor in the effectiveness of the staff development (Showers et al., 1987). These same researchers have reached similar conclusions regarding the exact type of staff development and the time at which it is held.
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