The Time Factor

Osborne, Simone,  et al., (2013) share important lessons learned during a recent study which considered teacher professional development to support student dialog in small groups to encourage reasoning for argumentation.

The time it takes for teachers to become proficient in new instructional practices and for those instructional approaches to impact student behavior and learning must be taken into account when evaluating teacher performance and student outcomes vis-a-vis this practice. Another reason to slow down implementation of  teacher accountability and intense testing we are imposing on our teachers and students associated with Common Core.

The following is taken from the Discussion section of the research paper:

 Our view is that what the field can learn from this study comes from an analysis of the constraints within which the study was conducted. First, we were asking teachers to adopt anew instructional practice. An accumulating body of empirical evidence (Martin & Hand,2009; Ratcliffe, Hanley, & Osborne, 2007) would suggest that it takes a minimum of 2 years for teachers to begin to use new instructional practices in an effective manner. The first year requires teachers to attempt new practices that involve risk and uncertainty (Claxton, 1988). Inevitably, teachers will make mistakes raising the issue of whether there has been fidelity of implementation—that is was the practice implemented in a manner which was the intention of the researchers. In the research conducted by Martin and Hand (2009)—a longitudinal case study of one experienced teacher’s attempt to embed elements of argumentation into her science classroom—the teacher took 2 years to become competent with the practice. Likewise, Ratcliffe et al. (2007) found that it took a 2-year cycle of one new, innovative, junior high-school curriculum for teachers to become familiar with the goals and the appropriate instructional practices. Similar findings emerge from the work of Adey and Shayer who found no immediate effects on student performance when students were tested immediately after their ‘Thinking Science intervention’ (Adey & Shayer, 1993) and more recently in the work of Allen, Pianta, Gregory, Mikami, and Lun (2011) who found no student effect until the post-intervention year. Looked at from the perspective of the interconnected model of Clark and Hollingsworth (2002), it would suggest that time is required to forge the connections that lead to change between the domain of practice, the domain of consequences, and the personal domain.  (pp.337-38)

Osborne, J., Simon, S., Christodoulou, A., Howell-Richardson, C., & Richardson, K. (March 01, 2013). Learning to argue: A study of four schools and their attempt to develop the use of argumentation as a common instructional practice and its impact on students. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 50, 3, 315-347.