Why research on CPD toolkits?

At the heart of FaSMEd is the design and construction of a toolkit for use by teachers and teacher educators. Our view is that we need to know what the research says about the design of toolkits so that this can inform our own design.

It is not always the case that educational designers draw on research to better understand what they should do and as McKenny and Visscher-Voerman (2013) say:

” ….few researchers have strong conceptual understanding of the marriage between the design discipline and scientific research traditions. Rather, most have strong exposure to either (a) research methodologies or (b) instructional design methods, theories and/or practices.”

The International Society for Design and Development in Education provides a coherent rationale for research into educational design. They state that

“Around the world, separate design groups or individuals use more-or-less systematic, more-or-less research-based methods for the development of more-or-less imaginatively designed educational materials and processes.”

They argue that classroom materials are highly important, and that their design and development ‘surely deserves continuing attention’. We agree with this, and suggest that for FaSMEd, continuing attention might begin with an understanding of the research in the field.

A key aspect of the toolkit is the fact that it provides online professional development for teachers of mathematics and science. While we, as a consortium, are highly experienced in providing face to face professional development, perhaps we know less about online professional development. It seems to us that Dede et al (2008) may have a valuable point:

“… although such programs are propagating rapidly and consuming substantial resources both fiscally and logistically, little is known about best practices for the design and implementation of these oTPD models.”

Our suggestion is that this is another area that FaSMEd might explore in some detail, but is not (yet) addressed in this blog.

Other pages in this blog

  • explore the notion of toolkits for teachers
  • provide examples of toolkits and toolkit-like resources already available
  • outline something of what is already known about toolkit design.


Dede, C., Jass Ketelhut, D., Whitehouse, P., Breit, L., & McCloskey, E. M. (2008). A Research Agenda for Online Teacher Professional Development. Journal of Teacher Education, 60(1), 8–19.

Mckenney, S. (2013). Formal education of curriculum and instructional designers. Educational Designer, 2, 1–20