Evaluating Micro-Credentialing

I wonder if others are noticing a shift in teacher professional development.  The shift moves from the kind of K-12 professional learning we often see in schools – 1) a  teacher attends a week-long professional learning session in the summer to fulfill requirement for continuing education or 2) a teacher attends a professional learning session on Saturdays throughout the school year.  These sessions seem to begin with the premise that teachers need to know something they do not currently know, and it should be delivered in a setting similar to a graduate school education class.  The shift I’ve noticed asks teachers to choose from a menu of targeted learning events.  Digital Promise provides some examples of micro-credentials for educators.  Examples could be “Leading a Professional Learning Community” or “Using Wait Time Effectively.”

How then, do we evaluate micro-credentialing initiatives?  We might adopt Guskey’s (2000) variant of the Kirkpatrick (1996) model.  Here’s what it might look like:

  1.  Participation and selection:  Who is choosing what micro-credential?
    • How did the designers arrive at the set of micro-credentials?  Did they conduct a needs analysis?
    • Did the participant self-select into the program?  If not, how was the participant connected to a specific micro-credential?
  2. Participant Reactions:  Did the participant find the professional learning useful, informative, and engaging?
  3. Participant Knowledge: What did the participant hope to learn?
    • What did the participant learn?
    • What is the connection between what the participant hoped to learn, the learning objectives of the micro-credential, what the participant actually learned, and what the participant applies on the job?
  4. Organizational Support and Change
    • What effect has the professional learning had on the school environment?
    • What barriers prevent participants from using what they have learned?
    • What affordances of the environment promote use?
  5. Participant Actions: How does the micro-credential affect practice?
    • How does the participant intend to use what they learn in the micro-credential?
    • What action does the participant actually take as a result of the micro-credential?
  6. Student Success:
    • Before taking the Micro-Credential:  What affect will the micro-credential have on students?  That is, how will students be different as a result of this micro-credential?
    • During the Micro-Credential:  How has the teacher changed his/her perspective of the effect of the micro-credential on students?  That is, now that the teacher is taking the micro-credential, how has his/her thinking changed in regards to the effect it will have on students?
    • After the Micro-Credential:  What effect has the micro-credential actually had on students?  Can we draw theoretical and ultimately causal connections between the micro-credential and student success?

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