Using evidence in the classroom for professional learning

by Helen Timperley


This 10-page article from Professor Helen Timperley is based around research into teacher professional learning. It will make a useful contribution to professional conversations in both primary and secondary schools.

Timperley shows how important it is to make the connections from students’ needs to teachers being able to identify those needs and then working on their practice to meet them. She reminds us that evidence is not about categorising or credentialing students, its purpose is to inform teaching and learning.

To be effective evidence should be gathered and used in certain ways.

  • It should be collected from multiple sources.
  • With the help of experts, teachers work out what skills and knowledge they need to address the students’ learning.
  • Teachers make sure that their classroom practices or activities make a difference for students.
  • Effective changes are dependent on context: these students, these teachers, this school.
  • School leaders make opportunities for teachers to synthesis their new learning in order to develop it fully.

Timperley pays attention to the complexity of improving teacher practice. The role of school leaders is crucial in this. She suggests that school leaders’ educational responsibility for their teachers’ learning is similar to the responsibility of teachers for their students’ outcomes.

Using evidence to improve teachers practice does take time. Professionally it is demanding on teachers. It requires engaged and involved school leaders, and trusting relationships so that the whole professional community can work together.

Reflective questions

These reflective questions might guide you in your reading of this article:

  • Look at what you currently do with evidence of student outcomes in your school. To what extent does it categorise, or credential students? To what extent is it providing teachers with information to make their teaching more effective?
  • Examine the provision of professional learning for the teachers in your school. What implications does the article have for changes you might make in order to improve the effectiveness of your approach to professional learning? In particular, what roles do you and other school leaders need to play in the process?
  • Use the three diagrams presented in this article as a basis for a strategy in your school to use evidence to improve students’ learning. If possible work on this with other school leaders.


Timperley, H. (2010). Using Evidence in the Classroom for Professional Learning. Paper presented to the Ontario Research Symposium.

Download the article from the top of this page. Added with permission from the author.

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