Teachers’ views on and preferences for meeting their professional development needs in STEM

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School Science and Mathematics






While much is known about the characteristics that researchers deem valuable for professional development (PD), teachers’ perceptions of their PD needs are less understood. In this study, we sought to explore teachers’ perceptions of their PD needs, including PD format, time frame, and topics covered, and how those perceptions varied by teachers’ district size, grade level, subject area, and years of experience. Participants included a statewide representative sample of 800 elementary and secondary STEM teachers with a wide range of teaching experience and from small to large school districts across Missouri. Each participant responded to the MO-STEM PD Needs Assessment, a 61-item Likert scale survey. We found teachers to be most interested in learning about real-world issues and problem-based learning to teach STEM content. Teachers’ participation in PD positively correlated with district size and the manner in which PD is valued in their community of practice, while years of teaching experience was negatively correlated with interest in virtually all categories of the survey, including formats of PD delivery and the majority of PD topics. We conclude with a discussion of the ways in which teachers’ expressed preferences for PD ran contrary to what the literature suggests as best practices for PD.