Thursday, January 12, 2017

Are Professional Development Questionnaires Any Use?

Recently I was asked about questionnaires for evaluating professional development (PD) courses, specifically: attitudes, behaviors and efficacy. I suggest not wasting resources on this. If the institution has a standard course survey, then use it, but don't set much store in it.  Instead, focus on testing what the PD is intended to teach and not worrying so much about attitudes, or evaluation.  If the PD is to teach students how to collaborate and communicate, then test if they can collaborate and communicate, using conventional assessment techniques in the course.

Questionnaires are of little use in evaluating courses. Ebert-May et. al. (2011) found little correlation between what people said they did and what they actually did, after PD. One interesting finding was that "... novice teachers implemented inquiry-based, learner-centered instruction to a greater extent than experienced teachers ...". With limited resources it might be better to provide training for early career academics.


Ebert-May, D., Derting, T. L., Hodder, J., Momsen, J. L., Long, T. M., & Jardeleza, S. E. (2011). What we say is not what we do: effective evaluation of faculty professional development programs. BioScience, 61(7), 550-558.

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