Professional Development.

AEA365 shares some insights into its use in evaluating professional development.

The authors cite Thomas Guskey (1, 2). I didn’t know Thomas Guskey. I went looking.

Turns out, Donald Kirkpatrick (1924-2014) was the inspiration for the five level evaluation model of Thomas Guskey.

Kirkpatrick has four levels in his model (reaction, learning, behavior, results). I’ve talked about them before here and here. I won’t go into them again.

Guskey has added a fifth level. In the middle.

He talks about participant reaction (level 1) and participant learning  (level 2) (like Kirkpatrick).

His third level is different. Here he talks about organization support and change.

Then he adds two additional levels that are representative of Kirkpatrick’s model (level 3 and 4). He adds participant use of new knowledge and skills (Kirkpatrick’s behavior; Guskey’s level 4) and participant learning outcomes (Kirkpatrick’s results; Guskey’s level 5).


AEA365 (A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators) makes the point to “assess implementation readiness of participants and their organizations prior to the delivery of the PD”. The authors of AEA365 make the point to “obtain information about organizational readiness to support novel approaches” as the participants will return with novel approaches. They also suggest to gather information about participants’ prior content knowledge and classroom experience.  Participants perception of school or district buy-in is important to gather. As is participants’ attitudes about the training and future adoption of what they will be learning. The authors provide the following citations.

  1. Guskey, T. R. (2002). Does it make a difference? Evaluating professional development. Educational Leadership, 59(6), 45-51.
  2. Guskey, T. R. (2009). Closing the Knowledge Gap on Effective Professional Development. Educational Horizons, 87(4), 224-233 (

I have not used this model. That doesn’t mean much. The citations are 21st century. I was prepared in the 20th century. I draw heavily from citations offered then.

The Extension Service presents many professional development sessions each year. They may not call them professional development. Perhaps they are called seminars, lectures, training sessions. Whatever they are called, the professional is prepared to provide a service better.

That is professional development.

Why is evaluation important?

Professional development is learning. That learning can be formal, as in a classroom for continuing education or academic credits. Or it can be informal like free choice learning, learning experienced in a museum or a nature preserve. And you want to know if the participants learned. You might even want to know what they learned. That is evaluation.

Certainly, you want to know if behaviors will change. And what the participant plans to do with the information. Guskey makes a point, though. If the organization doesn’t support change (even though the have supported the professional development), what good is the professional development to the profession? (If you want to learn more about training and development see the website.)



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