Title: Differentiating for Teacher Learners: An Examination of Research in Professional Development Studies
Program: Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
Advisor: Dr. Katherine Wright, Literacy, Language, and Culture
Committee Members: Dr. Gena Nelson, Early and Special Education, Dr. Amber Warrington, English, and Dr. Jim Fredricksen, English
Teachers need access to quality professional development (PD) to navigate the complexities of the teaching profession. An important aspect of this PD is that it is differentiated to meet the needs of teacher-learners with varying ability levels, teaching experiences, content knowledge, and teaching contexts. Stakeholders need access to high-quality research to attend to these diverse needs in PD. My dissertation consists of three connected Systematic Literature Reviews studies that examine the current quality of PD research at the secondary level, to determine what research says about differentiating for teacher-learners to provide guidance for education practitioners who make PD decisions. The first study is a systematic literature review to determine the current quality of PD research. Study 2 reviewed the high-quality literature to isolate specific practices that indicate PD is being differentiated. Study 3 is a review of three practitioner journals to determine to what extent the recommendations made in these journals are consistent with what the high-quality research supports. I concluded that while differentiation practices are beginning to make their way into PD research and conversations, more high-quality research is needed to identify effective ways PD can be tailored to meet the needs of individual teachers to ultimately improve student learning outcomes.