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An Effective Group-Inservice Model

Two important inservice models are "One on One" and "Group." The following is an outline for preparing a Group Inservice. It is from a 1997 draft version of:

Moursund, D. and Bielefeldt, T. (1997). Computer technology and professional development: Suggestions for schools. Washington DC: National Foundation for the Improvement of Education.

This section outlines a model for working with small to large groups. It is research-based model for staff development for technology in education that has been shown to be quite effective (Moursund, 1989). The inservice might be targeted toward a number of teachers from different schools in the school district. For example, it might be specifically designed for high school social studies teachers, or for middle school math teachers. Alternatively, in a specific school an inservice might be targeted at all teachers who are at levels 1 or 2 on the Stages of Concern and Levels of Knowledge (SC&LK) scale. As indicated earlier in this report, this same model for group inservice has proven effective in working with a combination of teachers and students.

  1. Do a needs assessment. Many schools and school districts have developed a long-range plan for computer use and a more general long-range plan for their schools. Such long-range planning provides a good starting point for a needs assessment. The overarching goal of the inservice is to facilitate classroom implementation of goals specified in the long-range plan and/or in other information technology goals of the school and school district.
  2. Plan carefully. Design the inservice and make the necessary arrangements for facilities. Give careful consideration to holding some or all of the sessions in the schools of the participants. Make sure that the planning process includes the participants and that the plan actually meets the needs of the participants.
  3. Recruit participants. Keep in mind the desirability of having a critical mass of participants from each participating school, and the strong desirability of having administrative support and participation. By and large, it is easier to work with participants who have relatively homogeneous computer backgrounds and teaching interests. Job-alike groupings can be especially effective. Note: Cycle among steps 1-3 as needed. For example, information obtained during the participant recruiting process may contribute to the needs assessment and lead to changes in the plans. Some of the participants will have considerable more information technologies knowledge and skills than others. Some will have more classroom implementation experience than others. Carefully plan how these more knowledgeable and more experienced educators will be facilitated and used in the inservice. In the inservice, they want to learn. However, they are an invaluable resource in helping others to learn.
  4. Do extensive advance preparation. Carefully and fully prepare the content of the inservice series. Prepare handout materials. Make sure that the handout materials include good examples that the teacher can immediately use in his/her teaching. As a rough rule of thumb, the first time a person facilitates a particular inservice they will probably need to spend at least 10 hours of preparation time for teach hour of inservice.
  5. Check out the inservice facilities. Pay particular attention to the hardware, software, networking and connectivity, and room lighting. Is the lighting appropriate for use of projection equipment? Make sure you arrive at the inservice site early enough to recheck all of the facilities to make sure they are working well.
  6. Do an inservice session. Be aware that teachers like such inservices to have a substantial hands-on component. (In essence, from the participant point of view, the more hands-on time, the better.) Conducting a hands-on inservice for a group of educators is very challenging to the facilitator. Having participants work in teams of two tends to reduce pressures on the facilitator. Even then, very few inservice providers can effectively handle a group of more than 15-20 educators in a hands-on session. For larger groups, assistance is essential.
  7. Focus on classroom implementation. Each inservice session should have a major emphasis on participants becoming prepared to immediately make use of their new knowledge and skills. There should be an expectation that teachers will do classroom implementation immediately.
  8. Evaluate. Conduct informal and formal formative evaluation as seems appropriate. For example, have participants fill out an evaluation form at the end of each session. The form should encourage participants to provide suggestions on ways to make the inservice better fit their specific needs. Note: Repeat 5-8 for each inservice session. Each session provides follow-up support to the previous sessions. Provide time in each session for doing the necessary follow-up support.
  9. Do a summative evaluation at the end of the inservice series. From the point of view of the participants, what went well, and what didn't? What could be improved, and what changes in emphasis would make the inservice series more valuable to participants? Was the design, implementation, and outcome of the inservice sufficiently successful so that the inservice should be repeated for other groups of teachers? (There is a short section on evaluation later in this document.)
  10. Continue to provide follow-up support to the participants after the inservice series ends. This might be done by a combination of participants providing support to each others and by the inservice staff providing support.
  11. Evaluate the long-term residual impact. Gather data on the long-term residual effect of the training six months to a year after the inservice series ends. Are the participants exhibiting the behaviors that the inservice was designed to promote? Look for ways to improve the design of the inservice so that the next time it is given, it will have a greater long-term residual impact.


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