Research and Resources
We believe in the power of research to ground and inform our work. Here are two reports where we explored coaching as a tool to close the Digital Learning Gap.
1. Our Conceptual Framework: Coaching and Impactful Technology Use
As access to technology becomes increasingly commonplace in schools, discrepancies continue to emerge concerning not whether technology is being used, but how it is being used. The National Education Technology Plan (U.S. Department of Education, 2017) calls for “thoughtful intervention and attention” to close this digital use divide, namely by enabling educators to “design highly engaging and relevant learning experiences through technology.” Evidence across multiple studies suggests that classroom coaching is one such thoughtful intervention, providing a critical form of professional development (PD) to improve teacher practice (Kraft, Blazar, & Hogan, 2018; Knight, 2007).
Relying on a constructivist approach where change and growth are the goals of using an evidence-based framework of teacher PD, we investigate classroom coaching through the lens of five features of effective PD (Darling-Hammond, Hyler & Gardner, 2017; Desimone & Pak, 2017):
- Collective participation: Helps teachers actively work and exchange ideas with a collaborative community and become advocates of their own learning.
- Active learning: Facilitates direct engagement of teachers in designing and/or trying teaching tools and strategies.
- Coherence: Explicitly links activities to the curriculum teachers use and are aligned with teaching standards and goals.
- Sustained duration: Provides teachers with sufficient time to learn and practice new strategies.
- Content flexibility: Focuses on subject matter content, how teachers teach that content and how students learn that content.
For each feature, we use empirical evidence from the Dynamic Learning Project to explore the conditions that allow coaching to improve impactful technology use and create rich classroom experiences.
Impactful Technology Use
In the Dynamic Learning Project, “Impactful Technology Use” refers to the ability of educators to use technology in the ways that develop students’ 21st century skills. We specifically use the following six indicators to define impactful technology use, as they have shown strong reliability in previous research:
- TO SELECT RELEVANT TECHNOLOGY TOOLS AND RESOURCES: Students are able to select relevant technology tools and resources for learning.
- TO USE TECHNOLOGY TO DEVELOP STUDENT COLLABORATION SKILLS: Students are able to work together to solve problems, complete tasks, and accomplish common goals.
- TO USE TECHNOLOGY TO DEVELOP STUDENT COMMUNICATION SKILLS: Students are able to thoughtfully cross borders, connect with experts locally and globally, and share what they have learned orally, in writing, and through a variety of media.
- TO USE TECHNOLOGY TO DEVELOP STUDENT CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION SKILLS: Students are able to generate and refine solutions to complex problems or tasks using ideation, synthesis, and analysis processes in combination with technology.
- TO USE TECHNOLOGY TO DEVELOP STUDENT CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS: Students are able to ask and investigate complex problems, evaluate different sources of information, and draw conclusions based on evidence and reasoning.
- TO USE TECHNOLOGY TO DEVELOP STUDENT AGENCY: Students are able to take responsibility for their learning by setting and driving towards personal goals, by identifying their own topics, processes, and strategies, and by reviewing and reflecting on their work.
1 Hixson, N. K., Ravitz, J., & Whisman, A. (2012). Extended Professional Development in Project-Based Learning: Impacts on 21st Century Skills Teaching and Student Achievement. West Virginia Department of Education.
You can download the Impactful Technology Framework here.
2. Our Research Question
Our research project aims to examine and explore factors and dynamics that make classroom coaching more effective for fostering student impactful use of technology and creating rich classroom experiences.
3. Our Methodology
We utilize a mixed-methods research design to understand the conditions necessary for coaching to effectively foster impactful use of technology and create rich classroom experiences.
We collect survey data from principals, coaches, and teachers in all the participating schools to understand these stakeholders’ perceptions, values, skills, and behaviors related to both coaching and technology use.
For a more complete picture of the conditions influencing the effectiveness of coaching, we also conduct case studies in several participating schools. Through classroom observations, interviews, and focus groups (with district leads, principals, coaches, teachers, and students), we explore how coaching works more effectively in practice.
4. Open Resources
Based on the longitudinal, mixed-method research study that we have been running in the schools participating in the Dynamic Learning Project, we developed the Rubric of Impactful Technology Use (ITU Rubric) that educators can use to track their progress in impactful use of technology (i.e., technology use that improve students’ 21st century skills). We use the ITU Rubric with our participating schools to help them track the progress of their educators in promoting impactful use of technology and measure the impact of coaching.
Based on the Rubric, we developed these questions to measure the short-term progress of teachers who received coaching and their students in impactful technology use.
In addition, we developed these questions to measure the long-term impact of coaching on student use of technology as well as engagement and learning.
The ITU items in the surveys have demonstrated strong statistical reliability (Standardized Alpha > .90 for combined indices).
If you decide to use these surveys in your settings, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.