This concern resulted in a plethora of research to determine the attitudes of educators about these programs. The findings indicated an overall dissatisfaction with current inservice efforts but a strong agreement that inservice education was paramount if school programs and practices were to be improved.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, many major studies were conducted to determine the characteristics of effective inservice programs, focusing not on attitudes but on actual practice. While no one pretends to have discovered all of the elements that make inservice programs completely successful, there is substantial literature available on effective inservice practices of character compass. Sparks (1983) described five types of training activities that characterize effective staff development approaches when measured by change in teacher behaviors. These components are described below:
Diagnosing and prescribing
Begin with teacher’s current level of expertise
Giving information and demonstrating
Live modeling, videotapes, simulations
Sharing ideas with other teachers
Practicing and giving feedback
Microteaching, role-playing, and peer observations
Interpersonal facilitation (support)
A major study conducted by the Rand Corporation examined 293 federally funded school improvement programs to identify factors that impacted their success or failure. The sample consisted of 852 administrators and 689 teachers. The research design involved field studies examining projects in action as well as follow-up investigations two years after the original research was conducted. The study concluded effective inservice programs have some identifying characteristics. Programs were considered effective if they had concrete application to the classroom and provided long-term assistance to participants. Assistance included local resource personnel that individuals could contact for advice. Effective programs met the local needs and concerns of the participants. The study showed that principals were actively involved in inservice programs designated as effective.
Korinek, Schmid, and McAdams (1985) examined the literature to identify the most commonly stated guidelines for producing effective inservice programs. The review led to reports in the literature that met four criteria: (a) involved work that was conducted in the United States, (b) published after 1957, (c) included specific recommendations and/or conclusions about inservice for practicing teachers, and (d) published in a refereed journal if a comparison or test of procedures was described. From over 100 reports, only 17 studies met the criteria. “Best practice” statements were derived from tallying the number of times a specific practice was mentioned in the reports of attitude. If a specific practice was mentioned six or more times, it was considered a best practice. The best practices were associated with the three most common models of inservice programs: information transmission, skill acquisition, and behavior change. The following 14 best practices emerged.
Inservice programs are likely to be successful to the degree that the instructors are effective communicators, are or have been teachers themselves, and are able to model the skills. The researchers also reported that computer workshops are limited because they focus primarily on skill building and provide little follow-up. Teachers need continuing support and training as they begin using computers in their everyday classroom activities. A statewide survey of computer inservice programs in Texas supported the belief that teachers have different needs depending upon the subject and grade level they teach.