The knowing-doing gap: Bridging teacher knowledge and instructional practice with supported SMART goal planning

Elizabeth Anne Smith, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to determine the difference in student achievement for teachers who developed SMART goals as the basis of their annual Professional Growth Plan (PGP) and then were provided continuous, consistent principal coaching, and those who developed a SMART goal as part of their PGP with no additional principal coaching. The teachers participating in the study based their goals on writing instruction. A quasi-experimental design was used to determine if the students of the supported teachers had significant achievement gains over the students of nonsupported teachers. The teachers in the study were interviewed to determine if the ongoing support of the principal contributed to a higher degree of comfort in trying new practices or changed their existing practice, specifically on whether they saw a benefit in the strategies currently used versus their previous methods. The data from the pretest and the posttest indicated significant gains in the writing scores of students in the experimental classrooms. Therefore the test results provided evidence that a principal giving ongoing support to teachers positively affects student achievement. In addition, two major themes emerged from the teacher interviews. First, teacher responses indicated that SMART goals were valuable because the data collected to assess the goals targeted specific needs for specific groups of students. Therefore, teachers could make instructional choices not on what they thought students needed, but on what they knew they needed. Secondly, the teachers' interviews provided evidence that sustained ongoing support by the principal in implementing SMART goals made this researched-based model less abstract for teachers because the principal provided connections for them between the theory and their practice. Bridging the knowing-doing gap for teachers through SMART goals is only one component in the development of professional learning communities. However, the implication is positive for investing more professional development time and resources in getting teachers and principals to work together in analyzing student achievement data and reflecting on quality instructional practice as it can positively affect student learning outcomes.

Subject Area

School administration|Teacher education|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Smith, Elizabeth Anne, "The knowing-doing gap: Bridging teacher knowledge and instructional practice with supported SMART goal planning" (2009). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3361364.