Development of a Framework for the Evaluation of Teachers’ Professional Learning (TPL)


An extensive range of professional learning activities are provided for teachers by the Department of Education (DE) through teacher support services, Education Centres, DE agencies and other initiatives. A complete evaluation of the impact of these professional learning activities is crucial to ensure that the needs of teachers, schools, students and the DE are being met effectively and efficiently.

The DE has committed to evaluating the impact of Teachers’ Professional Learning (TPL) activities, including a specific evaluation of TPL activities in the area of student wellbeing, in the Action Plan for Education 2018. In 2018, the ERC began working on behalf of the DE to develop a research based framework for the evaluation of TPL. This project is guided by a Steering Committee which includes representatives from the DE and teacher support services responsible for the provision of TPL.

Study oversight

The study is overseen by a Steering Committee (chaired by Teacher Education Section, DE) which provides guidance on the study, monitors progress, and approves reports on the study. Caroline Rawdon, with the assistance of Lorraine Gilleece, Kara Sampson and Jude Cosgrove, oversees the study in the ERC. Members of the Steering Committee are:

  • Judith Lyons  Chairperson, APO, ‎Teacher Education, ITE & Professional Development, DE‎
  • Brian Geraghty Secretary, EO, ‎Teacher Education, ITE & Professional Development, DE
  • Jude Cosgrove CEO, ‎Educational Research Centre (ERC)‎
  • Brendan Doody Assistant Chief Inspector, ‎DE Inspectorate
  • Mary Dunne Inspector, Primary, ‎Teacher Education, ITE & Professional Development, DE‎
  • Margaret Dunning Primary Divisional Inspector, ‎DE Inspectorate
  • Gráinne Egan APO, ‎Social Inclusion Unit, DE
  • Noreen Fitzpatrick  Manager,‎ National Innovation Unit, SOLAS
  • Lorraine Gilleece  Research Fellow,‎ Educational Research Centre (ERC)‎
  • Gabrielle Greene   Regional Director, ‎National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)‎
  • Madeline Hickey  Specialist Lead in Policy and Practice, ‎National Council for Special Education (NCSE)‎
  • Carmel Kearns  Head of Teachers’ Learning and Research, ‎Teaching Council
  • Pádraig Kirk Director, ‎Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT)‎
  • Seamus Knox Senior Inspector, Post-Primary, ‎Teacher Education, ITE & Professional Development, DE‎
  • Julie Lynch Inspector, Post-Primary, ‎Teacher Education, ITE & Professional Development, DE
  • Éadaoin McGovern Secretary, ‎Education Support Centres Ireland (ESCI)‎
  • Meabh McGuinness Education Project Manager, ‎Health Service Executive (HSE)‎
  • Eamonn Moran PO, Post-Primary, Curriculum and Assessment Policy Unit (CAP), DE
  • Jim Mulkerrins PO, ‎Teacher Education, ITE & Professional Development, DE ‎‎(until retirement in December 2019)‎
  • Mary Nihill   National Director, ‎Centre for School Leadership (CSL)‎
  • Éadaoin O’Brien Psychologist, ‎National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)‎
  • Mary O’Callaghan National Coordinator, ‎The National Induction Programme for Teachers (NIPT)‎
  • Evelyn O’Connor PO, Primary, ‎Curriculum and Assessment Policy Unit (CAP), DE
  • Ciara O’Donnell  National Director, ‎Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST)‎
  • Caroline Rawdon*  Research Associate, ‎Educational Research Centre (ERC)‎
  • Joan Russell Education Research Officer,‎ Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) ‎‎(joined in July 2020)‎


Current and planned work

The overarching aim of this project is to develop a framework for the evaluation of TPL which can be applied to TPL in any subject area. However, for the purpose of this project, specific TPL programmes in the area of student wellbeing are chosen as applied examples during the development of the evaluation framework. The project consists of a number of phases which are outlined in further detail below and data gathered at each phase will inform the development of the framework for the evaluation of TPL.

Phase 1 – Literature review

The report from Phase 1 is available here

A review of the literature covering:

  • Existing TPL frameworks
  • Identification of both challenges and enablers of TPL
  • Identification of best practices for process evaluation and impact assessment of TPL
  • A description of the broader school and policy context for student wellbeing
  • A profile of student wellbeing in the Irish context
  • A description of TPL in the area of student wellbeing that has taken place in Ireland over the past 5 years.

Phase 2 – Survey of principals and teachers on TPL and student wellbeing

A survey was implemented with a representative sample of principals and teachers in early 2020. The survey aims to explore principals’ and teachers’ views on TPL activities with a particular focus on the area of student wellbeing. The survey addressed four key areas:

  • Their thoughts on TPL in general
  • Their recent participation in TPL activities
  • Their understanding of ‘student wellbeing’
  • Their needs in relation to TPL in the area of student wellbeing.

PDF copies of survey questionnaires can be found here.

Phase 3 – In-depth study of TPL and student wellbeing

Following the survey of principals and teachers, further in-depth study will take place. The methodology for this stage of the project will be determined once survey results are available.

Timeframe and deliverables

This project runs over a three year period (2018-2021). Project outputs and milestones are outlined below.

2019 – The initial literature review commenced. A nationally representative sample of schools was selected for further study and survey instruments for a large scale survey of principals and teachers were developed.

2020 – The survey of principals and teachers was piloted and administered. The literature review report was published.

2021 – The findings from the survey of principals and teachers will be published. Further in-depth study will take place leading to the development of the final framework for the evaluation of TPL.