The Effect of Participation in a K-16 Professional Learning Community on Teaching and Learning Practices - Further Evidence
Author: Judith Monsaas

3. Design, Data & Analysis
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3. Design, Data & Analysis
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The major evidence to support this evaluation question is K-12 teachers' responses on the Inventory of Teaching and Learning (ITAL).  ITAL is a self-report survey that was developed by a team of PRISM evaluators to assess teachers' reported emphasis on reformed teaching and learning practices (Ellett & Monsaas, 2007).  Reformed teaching can be characterized as primarily learner-centered whereas more traditional teaching can be characterized as primarily teacher-centered.  Another term often used synonymously with reformed teaching is inquiry-based teaching. 

The inquiry questions on the ITAL were derived from the observation categories and assessment indicators of the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) developed at Arizona State University by the Arizona Collaborative for Excellence in the Preparation of Teachers (Sawada, Pilburn, Falconer, Turley, Benford, Bloom, & Judson, 2000).  Additional items were developed to assess teachers reported use of standards-based teaching and learning practices and traditional practices.  The inquiry items reflected reformed teaching and learning activities (e.g., encouraging students to evaluate their own thinking throughout the lesson) and the traditional scale reflected more traditional teaching practices (e.g., evaluating learning and performance on the basis of right and wrong answers).  Teachers used a six-point scale ranging from 1=No Emphasis to 6=Very Strong Emphasis to rate the extent to which they emphasized each ITAL teaching and learning activity in their classrooms.

Principal components analyses supported three subscales of the ITAL.  (See Ellett & Monsaas, 2007).  The three ITAL subscale components are:

  1. Inquiry-Based Teaching and Learning (30 items)
  2. Standards-Based Teaching and Learning (10 items)
  3. Traditional Teaching and Learning (12 items)

In addition to the ITAL questions about teaching and learning practices, several demographic questions (e.g., grade level and science and/or mathematics courses taught) and questions about participation in PRISM activities were asked.  The questions used in these analyses were,

  • Are you currently a member of a PRISM learning community?  There were three response categories: Yes, No and I am a member of a learning community but I am not sure if it s a PRISM Learning Community. Only respondents who chose Yes or No are included in the analyses.
  • Does your current PRISM Learning Community work with a higher education faculty member? Yes, No