Reprinted with permission from the chapter
entitled " Professional Development for Science
Education: A Critical and Immediate Challenge,"
by Susan Loucks-Horsley. National Standards &
the Science Curriculum, edited by Rodger Bybee of
the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study. Dubuque,
Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., 1996. For more
information call 1-800-KH-BOOKS (542-6657).
Another framework that has implications for the practices
of professional development acknowledges that learning
brings change, and supporting people in change is
critical for learning to "take hold." One model
for change in individuals, the Concerns-Based Adoption
Model, applies to anyone experiencing change, that is,
policy makers, teachers, parents, students (Hall &
Hord, 1987; Hord, Rutherford, Huling-Austin, & Hall,
1987; Loucks-Horsley & Stiegelbauer, 1991). The model
(and other developmental models of its type) holds that
people considering and experiencing change evolve in the
kinds of questions they ask and in their use of whatever
the change is. In general, early questions are more
self-oriented: What is it? and How will it affect me?
When these questions are resolved, questions emerge that
are more task-oriented: How do I do it? How can I use
these materials efficiently? How can I organize myself?
and Why is it taking so much time? Finally, when self-
and task concerns are largely resolved, the individual
can focus on impact. Educators ask: Is this change
working for students? and Is there something that will
work even better?
The concerns model identifies and provides ways to
assess seven stages of concern, which are displayed in
Table 3. These stages have major implications for
professional development. First, they point out the
importance of attending to where people are and
addressing the questions they are asking when they are
asking them. Often, we get to the how-to-do-it before
addressing self-concerns. We want to focus on student
learning before teachers are comfortable with the
materials and strategies. The kinds and content of
professional- development opportunities can be informed
by ongoing monitoring of the concerns of teachers.
Second, this model suggests the importance of paying
attention to implementation for several years, because it
takes at least three years for early concerns to be
resolved and later ones to emerge. We know that teachers
need to have their self-concerns addressed before they
are ready to attend hands-on workshops. We know that
management concerns can last at least a year, especially
when teachers are implementing a school year's worth of
new curricula and also when new approaches to teaching
require practice and each topic brings new surprises. We
also know that help over time is necessary to work the
kinks out and then to reinforce good teaching once use of
the new practice smoothes out. Finally, with all the
demands on teachers, it is often the case that once their
practice becomes routine, they never have the time and
space to focus on whether and in what ways students are
learning. This often requires some organizational
priority setting, as well as stimulating interest and
concern about specific student learning outcomes. We also
know that everyone has concerns-for example,
administrators, parents, policy makers, professional
developers-and that acknowledging these concerns and
addressing them are critical to progress in a reform
Professional developers who know and use the concerns
model design experiences for educators that are sensitive
to the questions they are asking when they are asking
them. Learning experiences evolve over time, take place
in different settings, rely on varying degrees of
external expertise, and change with participant needs.
Learning experiences for different role groups vary in
who provides them, what information they share, and how
they are asked to engage. For instance, addressing
parents' and policy makers' question "How will it
affect me?" obviously will look different. The
strength of the concerns model is in its reminder to pay
attention to individuals and their various needs for
information, assistance, and moral support.
Traditionally, those who provided professional
development to teachers were considered to be trainers.
Now, their roles have broadened immensely. Like teachers
in science classrooms, they have to be facilitators,
assessors, resource brokers, mediators of learning,
designers, and coaches, in addition to being trainers
when appropriate. Practitioners of professional
development, often teachers themselves, have a new and
wider variety of practices to choose from in
meeting the challenging learning needs of educators in
today's science reform efforts.
of Concern about an Innovation/ Table 3.