Evaluating Teacher Cohorts to Support Problem-based Learning

Erik William Parks, Fordham University


With the global workforce becoming increasingly competitive and rapidly evolving, it is critical that students are given opportunities to engage in learning experiences that require higher-order thinking skills. A solution to this demand is problem-based learning (PBL). PBL is a student-centered instructional methodology that is gaining ground in education across the globe as a way of increasing student growth in the development of 21st century skills of independent learning, collaboration, and critical thinking. This mixed methods study evaluated the effectiveness of the cohort model of professional development through the study of nine middle school teachers as they participated in an 8-day summer training program on PBL and monthly job-embedded coaching visits. Donald Kirkpatrick’s evaluation model for professional development was utilized to solicit feedback on the reaction, learning, application, and change in practice of all participants. The research questions focused on the nature of the professional development, teachers’ levels of knowledge and application of PBL structures, and student outcomes. Aligned to Kirkpatrick’s four levels, data were collected from both qualitative and quantitative sources. Results indicated that although teacher reactions to the professional development were mostly negative, all teachers were able to learn and apply PBL strategies after this learning experience. However, teachers still struggled with the pedagogical shifts of student-driven learning, and only one teacher was implementing complete PBL units by the end of this study.

Subject Area

Educational evaluation|Educational leadership

Recommended Citation

Parks, Erik William, "Evaluating Teacher Cohorts to Support Problem-based Learning" (2019). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI22587880.