Foundational Research: Professional Development

We recognize that professional development is complex and requires insight into what best practice is. Two different research-based models are emphasized through our Making Sense Professional Development courses. To learn more about Change Theory and Iowa Professional Development Models, please read below.


We understand that improving quality instruction requires a healthy attitude and understanding about change. Hall and Hord (2006), respected education leaders in change theory, help us to understand these important change principles:

  • Transformation is a process, not an event.
  • The organization does not change until the individuals within it change.
  • There will be no change in outcomes until new practices are implemented.
  • Administrator leadership is essential to long-term change and success.
  • The school is the primary unit for change.
  • Facilitating change is a team effort.
  • The context of the school influences the process of change.

With those principles in mind, we have developed a series of professional development courses that spur individual teachers toward change. We provide a context supportive of change, by providing:

  • a shared vision of change.
  • planning and providing resources.
  • an investment in professional learning.
  • progress monitoring.
  • continuous assistance.


With student learning at the core of school improvement and staff development, the Iowa Professional Development Model (IPDM) focuses on:

  • curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
  • participative decision making.
  • instructional leadership.
  • simultaneity.

The IPDM recognizes the cyclical nature of professional development and ultimately change that positively impacts student learning. The cycle of professional development consists of:

  • collecting and analyzing student data.
  • goal setting and student learning.
  • selecting content.
  • designing process for professional development.
  • training and learning opportunities.
  • collaboration and implementation.
  • ongoing formative data collection and evaluation.
  • summative program evaluation.



Hall, G. & Hord, S. (2006). Implementing Change: Patterns, Principles, and Potholes. Boston: Pearson.

Iowa Department of Education (2011). The Iowa Professional Development Model. Retrieved from