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Professional development in public schools: A descriptive study of the distinguishing components in small Nebraska schools

Paula Jo Sissel, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this study was to identify whether professional development programs in rural Nebraska schools aligned with the effective components of staff development as identified by three national professional development networks. The study was based on educators' perceptions from small K–12 Nebraska school districts. Nine essential questions were posed to determine their perceptions about professional development. ^ Data were collected through the administration of a three-page survey designed by the researcher, based on an empirical literature review of professional development current research and best practices. The survey was sent to thirty randomly selected districts to gather descriptive data about the participants' perceptions. Fifty-seven administrators and one hundred sixty-seven teachers provided data for the study. Twenty-four survey items were categorized into three main themes of context, process, and content that reflected the 2001 National Staff Development Council's professional development standards. ^ Descriptive statistics of the data were calculated by the Mann-Whitney U test to compare the perceptions of the two respondent groups. Results of this test indicated a significant difference between the perceptions of the administrators and teachers. The administrators' higher score in the mean rank indicated significantly more favorable perceptions than teachers about the professional development within their districts. Cronbach's Alpha yielded a reliability coefficient of .95, indicating the participants' responses were highly consistent. ^ Group type, gender, or years in education had no appreciable effect on the findings. Data analysis indicated none of the components identified by the three national networks had any notable influence on the outcome. No significant relationship of the responses to the previously identified themes was determined. ^ Results revealed significant incongruence between the perceptions of the administrators and teachers in small Nebraska school districts. Findings suggested the need for increased communication between teachers and their administrators in this area. Recommendations for future research included gathering additional data through qualitative methods to determine the rationale for the disparity between the two groups. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Teacher Training

Recommended Citation

Sissel, Paula Jo, "Professional development in public schools: A descriptive study of the distinguishing components in small Nebraska schools" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3102575.