Professional development for instructors has evolved and improved. Instructors engaging in career research need extra consideration in the areas of a catered professional development plan, research methods, and mentorship. Try our tips on professional development for instructors doing research.

Professional development trends

Teaching the teacher is a complex process. According to the Center for Public Education, some trends in professional development have been developed over the years to improve effectiveness.

  • The primary form of professional development is one-shot workshops, which have been found to be extremely ineffective. Rather, professional development should occur over time providing instructors with ongoing support, upwards of 50-80 hours of instruction.
  • Professional development is best delivered in the context of the teacher’s subject area.
  • Professional learning communities offer support, coaching, and mentoring.

Tips for creating a research thesis

Instructors doing research may not know where to start with their thesis. In Introduction to Research in Education, 8th edition, authors Donald Ary, Lucy Jacobs, Asghar Razavieh, and Christine Sorensen provide several tips:

  • A researcher must first decide on the general problem area.
  • Unless a researcher has knowledge or experience in a specific area, he or she does not know what additional knowledge is needed or how to obtain it through empirical investigation.
  • The question for investigation should hold deep interest or be one about which the researcher is really curious.
  • The researcher then narrows the topic down to a specific statement of the research question. What specifically do you want to know or what do you want to predict?

Utilize academic libraries

Instructors ready to perform their research can take advantage of their own facility’s academic library, which offers professional services in the full research process. Academic libraries in accredited institutions adhere to strict standards, offer collections of academic research, provide bibliographic access to materials, and assist researchers. Writing in “Support for Faculty Research in Academic Libraries,” posted in Cengage Learning September 24, 2015, Tami Strang says, “We’ve seen libraries that offer services for copyright and permissions, data management, media production, electronic document delivery, specialized databases for faculty use, [and] automated alerts about new publications in your areas of interest.”

Mentorship for instructors

Teachers entering a new university may be overwhelmed by their new position and responsibility as a teacher and researcher. For help and assistance in their research, instructors can join support groups geared to professional development. According to G. Marbach-Ad, K. L. Schaefer Ziemer, K. V. Thompson, and M. Orgler, in “New instructor teaching experience in a research-intensive university,” published in Journal on Centers for Teaching and Learning, 2013, “Analogous to faculty research communities is a movement to encourage new and experienced faculty to join or start Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs). FLCs provide individual mentoring in teaching and support for professional development in teaching through regular opportunities to discuss classroom issues….These centers can address pressing teaching issues, provide professional devel­opment activities, and offer individual consultation.”

Reference: Ary, Donald, Lucy Jacobs, Asghar Razavieh, Christine Sorensen. 2009. Introduction to Research in Education, 8th ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth. Cengage Learning. VitalSource Bookshelf Online.

How have you developed as a researcher over the years? Share your thoughts.