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A successful professional development program in history: What matters?

01 Oct 2018-Teaching and Teacher Education (Pergamon)-Vol. 75, pp 290-301

AbstractThis study focuses on a successful Professional Development Program for improving students’ understanding of historical time, consisting of a training and the implementation of Timewise, a teaching approach in which timelines were used consistently. The PDP was carried out with 16 elementary school teachers in grades 2 (ages 7-8) and 5 (ages 10-11). Results indicate that the highest student learning gains were reached by teachers who successfully implemented the instructional behavior aimed at, while using educative curriculum materials. The clear structure of Timewise and the user-friendly materials, which included room for autonomy, supported teachers in their learning and teaching.

Topics: Curriculum (56%), Professional development (55%)

Summary (5 min read)

1. Introduction

  • In the past decades multiple reviews discussed professional development programs (PDPs) of teachers, although PDPs in the field of social studies are rare.
  • In the PDP in this study teachers adopted a teaching approach, named Timewise, in which they consistently made connections between historical events and the timeline, while using stories, pictures and videos to develop their students' understanding of time.
  • Linear mixed model analyses showed that students in grade 2 as well as grade 5 scored significantly higher on the post-test compared to the pre-test and compared to the control condition.

2. Theoretical background

  • Many studies identify characteristics for PDPs that could be effective in improving teaching practices.
  • Secondly, the “theory of instruction” relates to the relationship between the content of the intervention and student learning.
  • The theory of improvement is represented in Desimone's (2009) much cited framework for the design, implementation and evaluation of PDP's, inwhich relations are shown between design features of the PDP, increased knowledge and skills, changes of teachers' attitudes, beliefs, and instruction, and improved student learning (Fig. 1).
  • The arrows in Fig. 1 show that there are interactive, non-recursive relations between the different components (Desimone, 2009).
  • The authors will finish this section with a description of the PDP in the present study (Fig. 1).

2.1. Design features of professional development programs

  • In studies on PDPs various design features are mentioned that could be effective for teacher learning.
  • In their selfdetermination theory Ryan and Deci (2000) and Deci and Ryan (2008) also stress the need for autonomy, next to competence and relatedness, to enhance motivation and effective performance.
  • In addition, some review studies put forward that some of the more effective programs appeared to be directly carried out by authors or their affiliated researchers, who were familiar with the work of teachers (Kennedy, 2016; Yoon, Duncan, Wen-Yu-Lee, Scarloss, & Shapley, 2007; Guskey & Yoon, 2009).
  • PDPs need to facilitate teachers in learning how to use curriculum materials with regard to content, aims, approaches and underlying ideas, whereasmaterials should be carefully framed with regard to the representations of content and pedagogy (Remillard, 2005).

2.2. Teachers' knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs, about the understanding of historical time

  • The importance of content knowledge for teachers' classroom practice is confirmed in multiple reviews and often referred to as pedagogical content knowledge (PCK).
  • Therefore, teachers will need to gain insights into students' development in learning about understanding of historical time.
  • The use of the vocabulary of historical time develops from the use of relative time phrases such as “long ago” to the use of dates and names of historical periods.
  • The next paragraph will elaborate on the change in teachers' instructional behavior.

2.3. Change in instruction - the instructional behavior for the teaching of historical time aimed at

  • The intention of a PDP is that teachers use their new knowledge, skills and beliefs to improve their instructional practices.
  • This should result in improved student learning.
  • A small body of empirical studies confirms the assertion that timelines are effective (Hodkinson, 2003; Masterman & Rogers, 2002).
  • Some studies have shown that teaching with pictures and stories is helpful to stimulate students' use of the vocabulary of time and their reasoning about chronological sequence and characteristic features of historical eras (De Groot-Reuvekamp et al., 2014; Barton & Levstik, 1996; Harnett, 1993; Hoge & Foster, 2002; Hoodless, 2002; Levstik & Pappas, 1987).
  • For most teachers in the lower grades the teaching about historical time means that they have to develop the instructional behavior aimed at, since history in these grades usually does not feature in the curriculum.

2.4. The PDP in the present study

  • The PDP in the present study consisted of two 4-h training sessions, followed by a curriculum intervention with Timewise.
  • All materials were practical and user-friendly, and needed little time for preparation.
  • The aim of the introductory lessons was to introduce and clarify the names and characteristics of the eras on the timeline, for which PowerPoint presentations for instruction were included.
  • Teachers could select appropriate teaching methods and learning activities linked to the objectives.

4. Design and method

  • The present study further explores the findings from an earlier effect study, which showed a medium effect of the Timewise approach of .44 for grade 2, and .54 for grade 5 on students' scores in the post-test, compared to the pre-test on the understanding of historical time (De Groot-Reuvekamp, Ros, & Van Boxtel, 2017).
  • This study offered no insights into how or why learning gains differed between teachers, nor how the PDP contributed to the success of Timewise.
  • A mixed-method design was applied in which qualitative methods are complementary to quantitative methods.
  • Fig. 2 presents an overview of the instruments used, during different phases of the PDP.
  • After the training they answered questionnaire 2 on the support of educative curriculum materials.

4.1. Participants

  • Between February and July 2015 eight teachers from grade 2 (ages 7e8) and eight teachers from grade 5 (ages 10e11) participated in this study.
  • The teachers had between 2 and 40 years of experience (M¼ 17.13, SD¼ 14.44); fourteen were female and two male (Table 1), which corresponds to the situation in the Netherlands where the majority of the teachers is female.
  • Five teachers (Jill, Olivia, Mary, Alice and Mabel) wanted to learn specifically how they could teach history in their grade-2 classes, and two grade-5 teachers (Vanessa and Rachel) participated because they were not satisfied with their current program for history.
  • The grade-2 teachers added the Timewise approach to their curriculum, since they did not teach history in their regular curriculum.
  • Vanessa did not use her textbook anymore, because it had become outdated.

4.2. Instruments

  • Questionnaire 1 contained three positive statements and one negative statement on beliefs on the teaching of historical timewith a four-point scale, also known as Questionnaires.
  • In questionnaire 3 teachers could give their opinion on how the materials of the PDP were supportive in the implementation of Timewise.
  • The authors observed all teachers for 30e45min for their instructional behavior during one of the Timewise lessons.
  • The interviews were audiotaped with the teachers' consent and there were member checks on the transcriptions.
  • The authors measured students' learning gains through a pre-/post-test design (sub-question 4).

4.3. Data analysis

  • Because of the small number of participating teachers, it was not possible to investigate whether differences between teachers were statistically significant.
  • The authors coded the interviews in Atlas-ti, with codes for the educative curriculum materials and the four supportive methods (Kennedy, 2016).
  • With respect to the observations the first researcher rated sixteen observations, and subsequently a teacher trainer from another faculty for teacher training rated four videos, using the same protocol.
  • For each objective the percentages of teachers who repeatedly focused on the objectivewas calculated, as well as the percentages of teachers who actively engaged their students.
  • To answer sub-question 4 (learning gains in grade 2 and 5) the authors made an overview per teacher of the mean student learning gains, resulting from the pre- and the post-test.

5.1. How did teachers perceive the support of educative curriculum materials provided by the PDP?

  • Immediately after completing the training, all teachers answered to closed questions in questionnaire 2 that they had received sufficient support to implement Timewise in their classrooms, and that they had gained sufficient insights into the Timewise approach.
  • Teachers of both grade 2 and 5 were very satisfied with the lesson formats in the instructionmanual and on the website, as well as with the theoretical background knowledge and the materials to stimulate students' learning.
  • Afterwards she thought that this could have been confusing for the students.
  • Bought the story book or borrowed it from the library to read the stories at home.

5.2. Which changes in their beliefs and attitudes, and gains in knowledge and skills did teachers perceive?

  • At the start of and one year after the PDP the teachers responded on four statements about beliefs about students' development in and the teaching of the understanding of historical time.
  • The first statement was based on older theories and therefore negative.
  • Grade-5 teachers mentioned similar experiences, as George explained: “I became convinced that it works well to start with the classroom timeline”, and Rose remarked: “The students reacted very positively, they now have a better understanding of the eras and of dates and centuries”.
  • Table 4 shows that before the PDP teachers felt not to a little competent in their knowledge of and skills for the teaching of historical time, whereas since the PDP all teachers felt competent.
  • This had never been explained to me very inspiringly.

5.3. To what extent did teachers implement the instructional behavior aimed at?

  • The observations showed that, although the authors offered the teachers the opportunity to select teaching methods and learning activities, they used the educative curriculum materials according to the suggestions in the training.
  • Most teachers started a lesson with a short review of the previous lesson.
  • Furthermore, all teachers used the classroom timeline: often at the start, like Claire, who started and ended her lesson about castles in the Middle Ages with referring to the timeline and having the students attach a picture of a castle to the classroom timeline.
  • The observations were confirmed in the logs and the scores on teachers paying attention to the objectives and actively engaging students during the observed lessons.
  • Only Claire and Mary reported lower percentages in their logs.

5.4. Which student learning gains were realized by the teachers?

  • Table 7 shows the mean student learning gains per teacher, as calculated from the differences between the pre- and post-test on the understanding of historical time.
  • Claire and Olivia also reported in their logs (Table 6) that they had paid less attention to the objectives, whereas Jill reported having paid 100% attention to the objectives.
  • The two teachers with the highest student learning gains in grade 5 (Chantal and Maureen) showed the highest results on their instructional behavior in the observation (Table 6).
  • In grade 2, teachers did not give extra history lessons in addition to Timewise lessons.
  • Two grade-5 teachers (George and Emmy) spent more time on history lessons (85min in total) than most other teachers, but their learning gains were below average.

6. Discussion

  • The present study examined which components of a PDP on improving elementary school students' understanding of historical time were relevant for the success of the PDP, which resulted in a significant improvement of learning outcomes of students in grade 2 and 5.
  • It seems that teachers' motivation to work with the curriculum materials played an important role in the success of this PDP.
  • With regard to the positive effects of Timewise, it could be argued that learning gains might have improved because of the extra time teachers spent on history, since six grade-5 teachers gave extra history lessons, which were part of their regular textbook program (Table 7), in addition to the Timewise lessons.
  • In their review studies Yoon et al. (2007) and Kennedy (2016) found this as a positive effect for successful PDPs.
  • A drawback of the small sample was that it was difficult to apply statistical analyses to investigate whether differences between teachers' behavior and students' learning outcomes were statistically significant.

7. Conclusion

  • Whereas most studies on PDPs focus on changes in teachers' behavior, the present study included all components of Desimone's (2009) framework for PDPs, and it confirmed that the interplay between design features, changes of teachers' attitudes and beliefs, increased knowledge and skills and change in instruction leads to improved student learning outcomes.
  • This structure, next to the possibility of always being able to consult the materials for background information, may have supported teachers' feeling of competence.
  • Finally, the implementation of Timewise offered teachers experiences that appeared to have changed their beliefs and attitudes about students being able to learn about historical time.
  • Summarizing, recommendations from the PDP in the present study would be that it is important to provide teachers with attractive and user-friendly educative curriculum materials and clear prescriptions and strategies, within a structure that supports their feelings of competence and gives room for autonomy.
  • This research was supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, grant number 023.001.084.

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A successful professional development program in history: What matters?
de Groot-Reuvekamp, M.J.; Ros, A.; van Boxtel, C.
DOI
10.1016/j.tate.2018.07.005
Publication date
2018
Document Version
Final published version
Published in
Teaching and Teacher Education
Link to publication
Citation for published version (APA):
de Groot-Reuvekamp, M. J., Ros, A., & van Boxtel, C. (2018). A successful professional
development program in history: What matters?
Teaching and Teacher Education
,
75
, 290-
301. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2018.07.005
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Download date:09 Aug 2022

A successful professional development program in history: What
matters?
Marjan de Groot-Reuvekamp
a
,
*
, Anje Ros
a
, Carla van Boxtel
b
a
Fontys University of Applied Sciences, School for Childstudies and Education, Frans Fransenstraat 15, s-Hertogenbosch, 5231 MG, Netherlands
b
University of Amsterdam, Research Institute of Child Development and Education and the Amsterdam School for Culture and History, Nieuwe Achtergracht
127, Amsterdam, 1018 WS, Netherlands
highlights
A PDP with timelines showed signicant student learning gains in history.
Educative curriculum materials contributed to the success of the PDP.
Feelings of autonomy and competence stimulated teachers intrinsic motivation.
Teachers' beliefs and attitudes changed during the PDP.
Teachers' instructional behavior appeared to relate to student learning gains.
article info
Article history:
Received 8 February 2017
Received in revised form
25 May 2018
Accepted 8 July 2018
Available online 19 July 2018
abstract
This study focuses on a successful Professional Development Program for improving students under-
standing of historical time, consisting of a training and the implementation of Timewise, a teaching
approach in wh ich timelines were used consistently. The PDP was carried out with 16 elementary school
teachers in grades 2 (ages 7-8) and 5 (ages 10-11). Results indicate that the highest student learning gains
were reached by teachers who successfully implemented the instructional behavior aimed at, while
using educative curriculum materials. The clear structure of Timewise and the user-friendly materials,
which included room for autonomy, supported teachers in their le arning and teaching.
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
In the past decades multiple reviews discussed professional
development programs (PDPs) of teachers, although PDPs in the
eld of social studies are rare. However, in the elds of science and
mathematics many studies on K-12 teachers' professional devel-
opment provide insights, into the question under what conditions,
why, and how teachers learn (see e.g., Kennedy, 1998; Loucks-
Horsley & Matsumoto, 1999; Penuel, Fishman, Yamaguchi, &
Gallagher, 2007; Blank, de las Alas, & Smith, 2008; Blank & de las
Alas, 2010; Sztajn, Campbell, & Yoon, 2011). Not so many studies
include measurements of student learning outcomes and even less
studies focus on the relation between specic features of the PDP
and student learning (Kennedy, 1998; Knapp, 2003; Van Veen,
Zwart, & Meirink, 2012). According to Hattie (2005) too little
focus on the improvement of student learning could be a reason for
lack of success of PDPs for teachers.
The present study focuses on a PDP aimed at the improvement
of students' understanding of historical time. The understanding of
historical time is a very important part of the learning of history and
essential for understanding events in today's society ( Barton &
Levstik, 2004; Wilschut, 2012). Understanding historical time in-
cludes reasoning about change and continuity, which is considered
to be a core concept of historical thinking (L
evesque, 2008; Seixas &
Morton, 2013) and of historical consciousness (Grever, 2009;
Rüsen, 2012; Seixas, 2006). However, research indicates that the
teaching of historical time in elementary schools, at least in En-
gland and the Netherlands, does not always lead to optimal student
learning outcomes (De Groot-Reuvekamp, Van Boxtel, Ros, & Har-
nett, 2014; Ofsted, 2011; Wagenaar, Van der Schoot, & Hemker,
2010). In the PDP in this study teachers adopted a teaching
approach, named Timewise, in which they consistently made
* Corresponding author. Tel.:þ316 10795224.
E-mail addresses: m.degrootreuvekamp@fontys.nl (M. de Groot-Reuvekamp), a.
ros@fontys.nl (A. Ros), C.A.M.vanBoxtel@uva.nl (C. van Boxtel).
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Teaching and Teacher Education
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/tate
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2018.07.005
0742-051X/© 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Teaching and Teacher Education 75 (2018) 290e301

connections between historical events and the timeline, while us-
ing stories, pictures and videos to develop their students' under-
standing of time. In a previous study, we investigated the effects of
the implementation of the Timewise approach on students'
learning outcomes in a pre-/post-test design with students in grade
2 (ages 7e8) and grade 5 (ages 10e11) in an experimental (n ¼ 396)
and a control condition (n ¼ 392). Linear mixed model analyses
showed that students in grade 2 as well as grade 5 scored signi-
cantly higher on the post-test compared to the pre-test and
compared to the control condition. The Timewise approach had a
medium effect on students' achievements of .44 for grade 2, and .54
for grade 5 (De Groot-Reuvekamp, Ros, & Van Boxtel, 2017).
The PDP in the present study consisted of a training of two
sessions of 4 h combined with curriculum materials and activities
teachers could adapt to their own needs during the implementa-
tion of Timewise. Considering the short training time of the PDP the
effects were remarkable, since positive results for PDPs with such a
short training are rare (Desimone, 2009; Van Veen et al., 2012).
Therefore, the main research question in this study is: Which
components of the PDP for improving elementary school students'
understanding of historical time were relevant for the success of
the PDP? The study will focus on changes in teachers' knowledge
and beliefs and their instructional behavior (Desimone, 2009;
Kennedy, 2016), as well as on the materials that were used to
support teachers in their learning and teaching (Ball & Cohen, 1996;
Davis & Krajcik, 2005; Davis, Sullivan-Palincsar, Smith, Arias, &
Kademian, 2017; Remillard, 2005).
2. Theoretical background
Although research indicates that changing teachers' behavior is
hard to realize, many studies identify characteristics for PDPs that
could be effective in improving teaching practices. The so-called
theory of improvement (Desimone, 2009; Van Veen et al., 2012;
Wayne, Yoon, Zhu, Cronen, & Garet, 2008)denes several re-
lationships between PDP characteristics. Firstly, the theory of
change refers to the relationship between characteristics of an
intervention and teachers' learning and behavior. Secondly, the
theory of instruction relates to the relationship between the
content of the intervention and student learning. Thirdly, the
relation between structural and cultural conditions in the school is
captured in the theory of context.
The theory of improvement is represented in Desimone's (2009
)
much cited framework for the design, implementation and evalu-
ation of PDP's, in which relations are shown between design features
of the PDP, increased knowledge and skills, changes of teachers' atti-
tudes, beliefs, and instruction, and improved student learning (Fig. 1).
The arrows in Fig. 1 show that there are interactive, non-recursive
relations between the different components (Desimone, 2009).
Below we will elaborate on the components of this framework in
relation to the PDP for the improvement of elementary students'
understanding of historical time. We will nish this section with a
description of the PDP in the present study (Fig. 1).
2.1. Design features of professional development programs
In studies on PDPs various design features are mentioned that
could be effective for teacher learning. Next to content focus, active
learning, duration, collective participation, and coherence (Garet,
Porter, Andrew, & Desimone, 2001; Desimone, 2009; Blank & de
las Alas, 2010; Opfer & Pedder, 2011; Van Veen et al., 2012),
several authors emphasize the extent to which teachers have op-
portunities to integrate a new methodology into their daily work,
and the need for extensive practice, with possibilities for feedback
to identify success and failure (Blank et al., 2008; Borko, 2004;
Knapp, 2003; Opfer & Pedder, 2011; Osborne, Simon,
Christodoulou, Howell-Richardson, & Richardson, 2013; Thurlings,
Evers, & Vermeulen, 2015; Van Veen et al., 2012). In their self-
determination theory Ryan and Deci (2000) and Deci and Ryan
(2008) also stress the need for autonomy, next to competence
and relatedness, to enhance motivation and effective performance.
Furthermore, the availability and usefulness of materials and re-
sources are mentioned as inuential factors for the effectiveness of
PDPs (Ball & Cohen, 1996; Cohen, Raudenbusch & Ball, 2003; Davis
& Krajcik, 2005; Davis et al., 2017; Hill, Blazar,
& Lynch, 2015; Opfer
& Pedder, 2011; Callahan, Saye, & Brush, 2013; Remillard, 2005). In
addition, some review studies put forward that some of the more
effective programs appeared to be directly carried out by authors or
their afliated researchers, who were familiar with the work of
teachers (Kennedy, 2016; Yoon, Duncan, Wen-Yu-Lee, Scarloss, &
Shapley, 2007; Guskey & Yoon, 2009). However, lists of effective
design features for PDPs are also criticized, mainly because the
effect of these features on teacher or student learning often remains
unclear (Guskey, 2003; Kennedy, 2016; Knapp, 2003; Van Veen
et al., 2012).
Other researchers stress the importance of educative curric-
ulum materials for successful PDPs, because carefully designed
curriculum materials can support teachers as learners and
contribute to teachers' professional practice and improvement of
instruction (Ball & Cohen, 1996; Cohen, Raudenbush, & Ball, 2003;
Davis & Krajcik, 2005; Davis et al., 2017; Lampert, 2012). For
instance, in a design experiment in social studies, educative web-
based curriculum materials seemed to help teachers with the
development of their professional teaching knowledge (Callahan
et al., 2013). PDPs need to facilitate teachers in learning how to
use curriculum materials with regard to content, aims, approaches
and underlying ideas, whereas materials should be carefully framed
with regard to the representations of content and pedagogy
(Remillard, 2005). Davis and Krajcik (2005) developed a set of
heuristics for educative curriculum materials in science teaching
which can be useful in other elds as well. Next to design heuristics
for scientic inquiry these heuristics consist of supporting teachers
in engaging students in topic-specic phenomena; in using subject
specic representations; in anticipating, understanding, and
dealing with students' ideas about the subject; in engaging stu-
dents in questions; and in the development of subject matter
knowledge. Building on these heuristics Davis et al. (2017) mention
important design principles for educative curriculum materials,
such as that these should offer suggestions for adaptations of les-
sons that would take different amounts of time and meet a range of
students' needs; provide teaching tools such as rubrics, examples of
key scientic ideas, and student-friendly denitions of terms;
highlight important content; emphasize the rationales for the
Fig. 1. Conceptual framework for studying the effects of professional development on
teachers and students (Desimone, 2009, p.185).
M. de Groot-Reuvekamp et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 75 (2018) 290e301 291

recommendations; and that these materials should be situated in
teachers' practice. In a recent review study Kennedy (2016,
p.11e12) identied four methods that appeared to be effective in
supporting teachers in the implementation of new ideas in their
daily practice, and could be included in the criteria for educative
curriculum materials. Prescriptions consist of exact procedural
guidance; strategies of teaching methods that teachers can choose
to implement in specic situations; insights can help teachers to
adapt their response in different situations, whereas a body of
knowledge contains concepts and principles that teachers can use in
their teaching practices (Kennedy, 2016). With the last three
methods teachers may feel more autonomy in the way they use
curriculum materials.
Based on characteristics of materials in literature on PDPs (Ball &
Cohen, 1996; Davis & Krajcik, 2005; Davis et al., 2017; Kennedy,
2016; Remillard, 2005) we can conclude that, in the context of
the present study, relevant educative curriculum materials seem to
consist of:
- Background knowledge about subject matter knowledge, the
objectives of the PDP, and knowledge of students' development
and learning in the understanding of historical time (body of
knowledge and insights);
- A collection of lesson formats and instructional materials for
teachers with suggestions for adaptations (prescriptions and
strategies);
- Materials to stimulate students' learning, such as timelines.
2.2. Teachers' knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs, about the
understanding of historical time
In the previous paragraph we mentioned that increasing
teachers' knowledge and skills and changing their attitudes and
beliefs are important factors in PDPs (Borko, 2004; Cherrington &
Thornton, 2013; Desimone, 2009; Knapp, 2003; Opfer & Pedder,
2011; Timperley, Wilson, Barrar, & Fung, 2007; Van Veen et al.,
2012).
The importance of content knowledge for teachers' classroom
practice is conrmed in multiple reviews and often referred to as
pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). Although denitions of PCK
diverge, they generally include knowledge of subject matter,
knowledge of how to teach the subject, and knowledge of student
learning processes regarding a specic subject (Shulman, 1986;
Van
Driel, Verloop, & De Vos, 1998; Van Veen et al., 2012). Some studies
on PDPs in science and mathematics indicate that teachers' subject
matter knowledge has a positive effect on students' achievements
(Hill et al., 2015; Roth et al., 2011). For a PDP on the understanding
of historical time teachers would need to refresh their knowledge
about the historical eras and their characteristics, since elementary
school teachers in the Netherlands, who teach all subjects, probably
have supercial content knowledge of history (De Groot-
Reuvekamp et al., 2014; Dutch Inspectorate of Education, 2015b).
Research into students' learning processes on the understanding
of historical time shows that teachers hold outdated beliefs related
to the Piagetian stage theory about the learning of clock and cal-
endar time being conditional for the learning of historical time and
that the teaching of history therefore cannot start before the age of
9(Barton & Levstik, 1996; Wilschut, 2012). However, according to
empirical studies the development of historical time also is a
learning process that starts at a young age (Blyth, 1978; West, 1981;
VanSledright & Brophy, 1992; Harnett, 1993; Brophy, VanSledright,
& Bredin, 1993; Barton & Levstik, 1996; Wood & Holden, 1997;
Foster, Hoge, & Rosch, 1999; Vella, 2001; Hodkinson, 2003; Sol
e,
2009. Therefore, teachers will need to gain insights into students'
development in learning about understanding of historical time.
Based on literature (De Groot-Reuvekamp, Ros, Van Boxtel, & Oort,
2017; Barton & Levstik, 1996; Harnett, 1993; Hoge & Foster, 2002;
Levstik & Pappas, 1987) three stages can be distinguished in this
development: emergent, initial and continued understanding of
historical time, in which students develop their understanding on
several aspects. For instance, the use of the vocabulary of historical
time develops from the use of relative time phrases such as long
ago to the use of dates and names of historical periods.
As to the pedagogy of the teaching of historical time, teachers
will need to develop their skills in engaging students in learning
activities to enhance their understanding of historical time that
match the stages of development of their students. The next
paragraph will elaborate on the change in teachers' instructional
behavior.
2.3. Change in instruction - the instructional behavior for the
teaching of historical time aimed at
The intention of a PDP is that teachers use their new knowledge,
skills and beliefs to improve their instructional practices. This
should result in improved student learning. Instruction can be
dened as interactions among teachers and students around
content, in environments, in which resources should focus on the
denition of instructional ends and means (Cohen, Raudenbusch
and Ball, 2003, p. 122). For the teaching of historical time this
means that teachers need to pay attention in their instructional
behavior to the objectives for the understanding of historical time.
These objectives include that students have to apply the vocabulary
of time; sequence pictures of objects, situations, events and persons
in chronological order; use the timeline; identify characteristics of
historical eras, and compare eras with each other and with the
present (Barton & Levstik, 1996; Department for Education, 2013;
Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences, 2006; Harnett,
1993; Hoge & Foster, 2002; Levstik & Pappas, 1987).
About educative curriculum materials that can contribute to
achieving these objectives, educational literature suggests that
timelines can support students in developing their understanding
of time, because they visualize the chronological overview of his-
torical eras (Cooper, 2012; Dawson, 2004; Hoodless, 1996; Stow &
Haydn, 2000). A small body of empirical studies conrms the
assertion that timelines are effective (Hodkinson, 2003; Masterman
& Rogers, 2002). Furthermore, attached pictures can give an
impression of a sense of period (Blow, Lee, & Shemilt, 2012 ;
Dawson, 2004). Some studies have shown that teaching with pic-
tures and stories is helpful to stimulate students' use of the vo-
cabulary of time and their reasoning about chronological sequence
and characteristic features of historical eras (De Groot-Reuvekamp
et al., 2014; Barton & Levstik, 1996; Harnett, 1993; Hoge
& Foster,
2002; Hoodless, 2002; Levstik & Pappas, 1987).
We can conclude that the instructional behavior aimed at in
lessons on the understanding of historical time implies that
teachers engage their students in activities that focus on the ob-
jectives while using timelines, pictures and stories. Teachers can,
for example, encourage their students to use dates and names of
eras; to sequence historical pictures on a timeline, and to identify
and compare characteristic features of eras in stories and pictures.
For Dutch elementary schools the use of curriculum materials in
history lessons is not common practice, since most teachers follow
textbooks for history, starting from grade 5 or 6 at about the age of 9
(Dutch Inspectorate of Education, 2015a; Wagenaar et al., 2010). For
most teachers in the lower grades the teaching about historical
time means that they have to develop the instructional behavior
aimed at, since history in these grades usually does not feature in
the curriculum.
M. de Groot-Reuvekamp et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 75 (2018) 290 e301292

2.4. The PDP in the present study
The PDP in the present study consisted of two 4-h training
sessions, followed by a curriculum intervention with Timewise.
During the training teachers explored the educative curriculum
materials, which comprised background information for teachers
and materials to stimulate students' learning (Ball & Cohen, 1996;
Davis & Krajcik, 2005; Davis et al., 2017; Kennedy, 2016; Remillard,
2005).
The materials included:
a. Materials for teachers to apply in their teaching, such as lesson
plans, and PowerPoint presentations;
b. Materials to stimulate student learning, such as timelines,
stories, pictures, video clips and exercises on a website;
c. Background information on subject matter knowledge of the
characteristic features of the ten eras of the Dutch curriculum,
which was added in a convenient overview in the instruction
manual;
d. Background information about students' development in the
understanding of historical time and about teaching according
to the objectives and stages in the developmental model (De
Groot-Reuvekamp, Ros, Van Boxtel, & Oort, 2017).
All materials were practical and user-friendly, and needed little
time for preparation. On the other hand, we provided for subject
matter and pedagogical content knowledge, because teachers will
more likely apply the suggested strategies in their lessons, if they
understand the rationale behind the lesson plans (Davis & Krajcik,
2005; Davis et al., 2017). Furthermore, the materials were attractive
for students to work with.
In the rst training session the objectives of the understanding
of historical time were discussed, along with students' develop-
ment in the stages of emergent, initial and continued under-
standing of historical time (De Groot-Reuvekamp, Ros, Van Boxtel,
& Oort, 2017). Beliefs about students rst having to master clock
and calendar time before they can learn about historical time, were
compared to more recent insights into students' development in
the understanding of historical time, and the age at which teaching
and learning of historical time can start (Barton & Levstik, 1996 ;
Harnett, 1993; Hodkinson, 2003; Hoge & Foster, 2002; Levstik &
Pappas, 1987; Wilschut, 2012). The trainer introduced strategies
that appeared to be effective according to literature (paragraph
2.3), such as teaching with timelines to visualize the chronological
overview of eras, and using stories, pictures and videos to stimulate
the development of a sense of period. Subsequently, the trainer
presented prescriptions for the implementation of Timewise,
which included lesson plans for weekly Timewise lessons of about
30 min, preferably to take place at a xed time in the week during a
period of ve months. The lesson plans consisted of three intro-
ductory lessons, with
xed formats, about the characteristics of the
eras of the Dutch history curriculum, followed by exible formats
for twelve to fteen weekly lessons on separate eras. The aim of the
introductory lessons was to introduce and clarify the names and
characteristics of the eras on the timeline, for which PowerPoint
presentations for instruction were included. In small groups the
teachers discussed the prescriptions of the introductory lessons
and their planning of the Timewise lessons for the next ve
months. Teachers could decide themselves whether they planned
the Timewise lessons instead of or next to regular history lessons.
The second training session focused on the materials to stimu-
late students' learning, such as the storybook and digital pictures
and links to educational videos for the interactive whiteboard
(IWB) and a large classroom timeline, which was especially
developed for the PDP. There was one version for grade 2 on the
level of initial understanding with six eras and one version for
grade 5 on the level of continued understanding, with ten eras. All
materials and resources were made available through a website,
which also contained digital timelines, on which pictures could be
sequenced on the interactive IWB. Teachers could select appro-
priate teaching methods and learning activities (strategies) linked
to the objectives. Examples were discussed, such as: asking stu-
dents to present a short review of the previous lesson; attachment
of pictures to the classroom timeline; introduction of the new topic
through reading a story and/or showing a video; classroom dis-
cussion about characteristic features of an era and comparisons
with other eras and the present; exercises with the digital timeline;
election of a picture to be attached to the timeline as a start of the
following lesson. The teachers discussed, in small groups, about
their choices for suitable strategies to achieve the objectives in their
own classroom practice.
3. Aims of the present study
The main research question in this study is: Which components
of the PDP for improving elementary school students' under-
standing of historical time were relevant for the success of the
PDP? To answer this question, the components of Desimone
(2009) offer a useful framework. This leads to the following sub-
questions:
1. How did teachers perceive the support of educative curriculum
materials provided by the PDP?
2. Which changes in their beliefs and attitudes, and gains in
knowledge and skills did teachers perceive?
3. To what extent did teachers implement the instructional
behavior aimed at in the classroom?
4. Which student learning gains were realized by the teachers?
4. Design and method
The present study further explores the ndings from an earlier
effect study, which showed a medium effect of the Timewise
approach of .44 for grade 2, and .54 for grade 5 on students' scores
in the post-test, compared to the pre-test on the understanding of
historical time (De Groot-Reuvekamp, Ros, & Van Boxtel, 2017).
However, this study offered no insights into how or why learning
gains differed between teachers, nor how the PDP contributed to
the success of Timewise. A mixed-method design was applied in
which qualitative methods are complementary to quantitative
methods. Mixed-method designs are advocated in literature for
purposes of triangulation, development, complementarity and
confrontation (Greene, Caracelli, & Graham, 1989; Moss & Haertel,
2016).
Fig. 2 presents an overview of the instruments used, during
different phases of the PDP.
The PDP started with two training sessions of 4 h each, followed
by the implementation of the Timewise approach during ve
months, a time span that according to literature would be effective
(Desimone, 2009). The rst author, an experienced teacher trainer
who coaches (student) teachers, provided the training. At the start
of the training teachers lled in questionnaire 1 on beliefs. After the
training they answered questionnaire 2 on the support of educative
curriculum materials. In the week before and the week after the
implementation all students took the pre- and post-test on the
understanding of historical time. Just after the implementation all
teachers answered questionnaire 3 on support of educative cur-
riculum materials. We interviewed all teachers and observed them
during one of the Timewise-lessons. One year later the teachers
M. de Groot-Reuvekamp et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education 75 (2018) 290e301 293

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