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Running head: ASSIGNMENT ONE 1

Assignment 1: Introduction, Research Questions, and Literature Review

Bianca M. Cheatham

University of West Georgia

MEDT 8484: Research Media and Instructional Technology

Spring 2018

Objectives and Purposes


Different forms of professional development have been sparking interest within the

educational field for decades now. It seems as though each school district has their own

approach as to how they plan to continue exposing their teachers to new strategies, trends, and

recent developments. Many forms of professional development range from traditional class

sessions to fully online networks. While each has its share of advantages and disadvantages, one

area that is often overlooked when considering the form of professional development offered to

educators, that is enhanced in classrooms with student learners, is learning preference. Many

school systems are not provided teachers with opportunities to learn in the best method that

meets their need. In fact, often, choice in the development topic or theme is eliminated


Research Problem and Rationale

Rockdale County Public School is a district that is leading the way in the state by already

offering blending learning to students through the use of 1:1 devices within classrooms.

However, they are still using traditional class sessions to provide professional learning to

teachers. With the utilization of online courses growing at such a significant rate, many were

interested to learn how teacher preference and previous learning experience might affect

motivation and overall enthusiasm, related to professional development. Some even feel as

though online professional development opportunities might give teachers more choice in their

learning topic and also allow them to more actively engage in the content.


The purpose of this study is to identify if a correlation between teacher motivation and

online professional development opportunities exist. This research will help distinguish whether

or not the method used to promote teacher learning affects engagement. Previous experiences

and learner preferences are all areas that are heavily considered by teachers within classrooms,

however, they are overlooked within educational learning. An additional goal of this research is

to recognize a percentage of teachers that would benefit from online learning opportunities

within Lorraine Elementary School, located within the Rockdale County Public School system. It

will help the school administrators recognize the extent to which factors like learning styles and

preferences, need to be considered when planning professional development opportunities for

educators, as well. This could lead to the inclusion of online learning or even blended learning

models for educators within the school building.

Research Questions and Hypotheses

The hypothesis of this study is that online professional development opportunities will

positively impact teacher motivation. Additionally, this study will focus on the investigation of

the following questions.

1. How many teachers at Lorraine Elementary School have experience participating in

online courses?

2. Currently, what percentage of teachers are motivated by the traditional professional

development courses used by the school system?

3. Will the idea of online professional development opportunities increase teacher

motivation more than traditional approaches?

Justification of Study

The data for this study will be collected through the use of surveys, interviews, and

correlational research. All school staff at Lorraine Elementary school will be asked to complete

the initial online survey. The data collected from this survey will help form three categories of

individuals. Those who have had experience and prefer online learning, those who prefer

traditional classroom settings, and those who have not experienced online learning at all. I will

conduct further interviews with representatives of each population. A mixed method research

approach will be used for this study. A combination of open-ended and multiple-choice

questions will conclude in a quantitative analysis of the initial survey. Additional questions

asked throughout the interviews will provide a qualitative perspective of the data, as well. Use

of the mixed methods approach will allow for the culmination of numerical data that will clearly

identify the percentages of learner preferences, along with the connections made with emotional

and motivation links between them and teachers’ daily practices.

Definitions of Key Concepts

In order to gain a full understanding of the topics addressed in this study, it is necessary

to define some key concepts. Professional development is the over-arching theme of this

research. It relates to the teaching, instruction, and training educators receive to stay relevant in

the classroom. Online learning and motivation are additional elements that will be addressed in

this study. Online learning focuses on an alternative approach to teaching that occurs outside of

a classroom setting through the use of the internet. For all intents and purposes of this study,

motivation relates to the desire and want of teachers, to implement new classroom techniques,

gained from professional development courses.

Literature Review

Professional development has been a form of teacher education for decades.

Guskey (2002) described it is a central component needed for the improvement of education

(p.381). The purpose of these development programs is to bring about change within teacher

practices and strategies. However, within today’s school systems, many teachers are

experiencing traditional class sessions for professional learning, many of which are mandated in

attendance. Educators are told which sessions to attend simply by the grade levels that they work

with. While this ensures that staff members receive proper training on classroom strategies,

according to developmental stages, it does not allow for any teacher selected learning options.

In 2015, Collins and Liang conducted research that suggested that forty-two percent of

teachers felt as though their required professional development was a waste of time or missing

components. While previous experiences and learner preferences are all areas that are heavily

considered for students within classrooms, they are overlooked within educational learning.

Providing educators with alternative learning approaches could significantly impact their

motivation and engagement with the course material. Online learning could very well provide a

second vantage point for educators to take part in advancing their skill set, beyond the traditional


Online learning can be a great adaption to any school system’s professional development

program. It will allow for a greater variety of teaching topics and modalities. It also offers a

greater amount of flexibility in how teachers complete their training sessions. Educations can

select a course to meet their individual needs and the online component could offer a greater

level of collaboration involved. Teachers could work with colleagues from around the state or

even possibly the country, opposed to just those within their school system or building.

Additionally, multiple studies have found positive results linking online professional

development to teacher engagement. Berry (2017) conducted research focused on elementary

teachers and their endeavor into a self-directed online learning environment. Berry was able to

analyze the learning of fifteen educators through the use of a professional development website.

This resulted in the implementation of a think-aloud method used on a daily basis. Additionally,

Svendsen (2017) conducted a three-year study in a secondary school in Norway. The factor that

most significantly impacted the success of professional development was collaboration. The

teachers within the study became completely engaged in the content through many collaborative


A third study completed by Clayton-Code (2015) focused specifically on the increased

level of collaboration included in an online professional development course. The course

focuses on the teaching of economics to middle and high school learners. The case study

indicated that the heightened level of collaboration in the online course increased both teacher

attitude and student learning.

Several common themes were identified throughout my research. They included a

multitude of used for online professional development, need for teacher collaboration, and an

overall increase in teacher motivation and engagement. Within each of the case studies

examined, online options for professional development were utilized. One focused on

elementary mathematics (Berry, 2017). Another, on secondary learning options in Norway

(Svendsen, 2017). The final was centralized on the economic studies for middle and high school

teachers (Clayton-Code, 2015). Teacher collaboration was also distinctly noticed within both the

Svendsen (2017) and Clayton-Code (2015) case studies. Both authors defined the element as

necessary to the success of the professional development model. Also, one can easily observe

that when teachers felt that the content was relevant to their classroom or even collaboration with

peers, their participation levels soared. This increased their motivation to actively engage in the

courses. Despite the differences between the needs of each educator included within these

studies, online training significantly altered teacher attitudes, beliefs, and practices (Guskey,

2002). They provided meaningful experiences to those involved.


Professional development is an area of education that affects every teacher. Without

strategically-created programs, teachers become unmotivated and disengage from the learning

content. School districts are faced with a decision to make regarding the ways in which they

address the education of their teachers. Just a differentiation is a major area of concern for the

education of children, it should also be a factor affecting the learning of adults. Online

professional development opportunities could provide teachers with an alternative way to receive

training aside from the typical classroom setting. It would increase the number of courses offered

and also provide more flexibility in scheduling as to when the classes should be completed. Just

a blended learning and online courses are becoming a driving force within many schools today,

online professional development should become more prevalent in today’s school systems.


Beach, P. (2017). Self-directed online learning: A theoretical model for understanding

elementary teachers' online learning experiences. Teaching And Teacher Education,

6160-72. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2016.10.007

Clayton-Code, K. P. (2015). Show me the money: evaluating the impact of an online

professional development course for middle and secondary classroom teachers. Journal of

Economics & Economic Education Research, 16(1), 19-3

Collins, L. J., & Liang, X. (2015). Examining High Quality Online Teacher Professional

Development: Teachers' Voices. International Journal Of Teacher Leadership, 6(1), 18-


Guskey, T. R. (2002). Professional development and teacher change. Teacher and Teaching:

Theory and Practice, 8, 381–391. https:// doi.org/10.1080/135406002100000512

Svendsen, B. (2017). Teacher’s expierence from collaborative design: rported impact on

professional development. Education, 138(2), 115-134.


Assignment 1 Rubric (20 points):

Section Not Evident Emerging Proficient Exemplary

I. Objectives and Purposes (2 pages)
This section should include: 0 1 2 3
 Background Information Information is Information is Information is
not provided. provided but relevant and relevant,
is unclear, adequate for sufficient, and
insufficient, the proposed clearly
or irrelevant. study. supports the
 Statement of the research 0 1 2 3
problem and rationale for Information The research The research The research
the study not provided. problem is problem is problem is
stated, but is clearly stated clearly stated,
unclear, too and is relevant, and
broad/narrow researchable. researchable.
or irrelevant. Strong Rationale is
The rationale rationale extremely
for the study provided. The clear,
is unclear or rationale compelling,
weak. statement and clearly
generally supports the
justifies the research
research questions.
questions. There is a
clear link
between the
rationale and
the research
 Purpose 0 1 2 3-4
The goals are Purpose is not Purpose is Exceptionally
not stated. clearly clearly clear in
described. described. purpose.
Goals are Goals are Goals are
stated but are realistic, realistic,
unclear, adequately clearly stated,
irrelevant, or stated and and clearly
too generally aligned with
broad/narrow. aligned with the research
the research problem.
 Research Questions and 0 1 2-3 4-5
Hypotheses/ Propositions

Information Questions/ Generally, Research

not provided or hypotheses/ questions questions are
no basis for propositions have proper clear, concise,
judgment. are missing, scope, are feasible, of
weak, or realistic, proper scope,
unclear. feasible, and and answer
Questions not adequately the purpose.
of sufficient phrased.
scope or are Each research
not feasible. question is
phrased, and
only one
aspect of the
 Definitions of key
concepts used in the Key Definitions Definitions All key
research questions concepts/terms for key for key concepts/term
are not concepts/term concepts/term s are clearly
defined. s are provided s are provided defined/
but are and generally explained.
inaccurate or adequate.
 Statement and
justification of the type of The type of The type of The type of The type of
study to be conducted study is not study is study is study is
specified. specified but specified, but specified and
cannot be it may not be is the optimal
used to the most choice for the
investigate the adequate or specified
stated feasible way research
research to investigate questions.
questions. the proposed The
research justification
questions. The for this type
justification of study is
for this type compelling.
of study is
provided, but
may include
II. Literature Review (2 pages)

Criteria: 0 1 2 3
 Critical review of literature Information is Findings from Some Evidence of
 Relevance not provided, leading evidence of sound
 Conceptual/Theoretical irrelevant, researchers satisfactory knowledge
framework incomplete, are included knowledge and critical
 Alignment and or with minimal with limited review of the
inaccurate. critical critical review literature
commentary. of the relevant relevant to the
literature, but study.
Cited with gaps and
literature may or omissions. Developed a
not be clear,
relevant to the Conceptual/ appropriate,
study. theoretical and justified
framework is conceptual/
included; theoretical
however it is framework for
not fully the research.
developed or

Study may be
Presentation and Writing

Criteria: 0 1 2
 Clarity Generally poor Reasonably Clear and correct use of
 Writing mechanics use of English clear and English characterized by a
 APA characterized correct use of clear style of expression, with
by numerous English few imprecise and/or incorrect
errors, unclear, characterized statements.
incorrect by generally
and/or illogical clear
statements. expression,
with relatively
few imprecise