4. Enabling lifelong learning of teaching professionals through in-service opportunities

The importance of learning and training opportunities for teachers underpins the focus of the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) on teaching as a profession. It enhances teachers’ and school leaders’ knowledge and skills as they apply it in their everyday work, therefore augmenting their learning with work experience (Ainley and Carstens, 2018[1]).

In-service learning is imperative for both early career and more experienced professionals. For early career teachers, it builds on recently learnt skills and knowledge base acquired from their teacher preparation programme and responds to the everyday, on-the-ground challenges teachers face in their work. For teachers and school leaders who have spent many years in the profession, in-service learning keeps them abreast of innovations in education and the allows them to meet new demands of the changing educational landscape, for example, more inclusive and diverse classrooms. It also prepares them for new roles as leaders, experts or mentors that they may assume in the course of their careers (OECD, 2005[2]; Villegas-Reimers, 2003[3]).

Research identifies teacher training and development opportunities as having a great potential positive impact on students’ educational outcomes because it can directly improve teaching quality (Desimone, 2009[4]; Hattie and Timperley, 2007[5]). However, its impact depends on the content of the training programme and the amount of time spent on it. The mode of learning is also key: for example, if there are opportunities for teachers to practice and reflect on what they are learning.

The impact of in-service learning lies in its responsiveness to the needs and challenges teachers face in their everyday work. Therefore, it is important to examine in this thematic report, teacher in-service training while considering the different instructional and curricular demands put forth to teachers at each education level and the social-emotional context of students of different age groups.

This chapter looks at the in-service training opportunities for teachers in primary and upper secondary education. The first section of the chapter describes induction and mentoring activities as an in-service learning opportunity for teachers in new working environments. The next section examines teachers’ and school leaders’ participation in professional development activities as well as the areas of high need for professional development. The third section of the chapter describes feedback for teachers as an in-service learning opportunity, the different ways in which teachers receive feedback as well as their perceptions about the impact of feedback on their work.

While the data presented in this chapter and report was collected in the 2018 survey cycle, it also presents some reflections on the emerging challenges faced by education systems in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. A great number of teachers found themselves working in virtual environments, grappling with new instructional methods dependent on technology and virtual modes of communication with their students. This chapter also reflects on how induction and mentoring, continuous professional development and feedback can help teachers navigate these new working environments, especially as few teacher preparation programmes prepared teachers to teach in a virtual environment (Archambault, 2011[6]; Giffin, 2020[7]; Rice and Dawley, 2009[8]).

Induction activities are designed to support new teachers’ introduction to the teaching profession and supplement the initial education or training they enter the profession with. They also support experienced teachers who are new to a school. Induction is either organised in formal, structured programmes or informally arranged as separate activities. TALIS provides information on whether a teacher participated in a formal programme or informal activities as well as whether their induction took place during their first employment and/or at the school they were currently teaching at the time of the survey in 2018. In addition to this, TALIS also asked teachers what kind of induction activities they participated in.

Volume I of TALIS 2018 results (OECD, 2019[9]) noted that informal induction activities at teachers’ current schools were more common than formal activities among the target population of TALIS, i.e. lower secondary teachers. However, induction as a formal arrangement was more common compared to informal activities when teachers were asked about their first employment.

Induction activities are a key learning opportunity for teachers during their practice. One of the most important advantages of induction activities for beginning teachers based on evidence from the United States is early career retention, especially activities that allow teachers to collaborate with their colleagues and include a mentor in their induction (Ingersoll and Smith, 2004[10]). Having multiple forms of activities can also make induction programmes more comprehensive, which can be beneficial for teacher retention. Induction activities are also shown to have a positive impact on teaching quality and student achievement (Glazerman et al., 2010[11]; Helms-Lorenz, Slof and Van De Grift, 2013[12]; Ingersoll and Strong, 2011[13]).

Having an assigned mentor for teachers is also one of the support structures through which teachers can receive hands-on guidance towards improving their practices (Ainley and Carstens, 2018[1]). Mentoring opportunities for teachers can be a part of induction programmes for new teachers but not limited to it. Mentoring can also include need-based support for teachers struggling with some aspects of their work where an experienced or expect teacher provides guided support (Holloway, 2001[14]).

This section discusses induction activities and mentoring as learning opportunities for teachers, especially those new to teaching or a working environment.

Teachers in primary education’ participation in induction activities is limited. On average across the participating countries and economies from primary education, about 42% of teachers took part in induction during their first employment and 34% of teachers at their current school of employment at the time of survey administration. In contrast, 41% of teachers, on average participated in neither of these activities (Table 4.4). In six countries and economies, half or more of the teaching workforce did not participate in induction: the Flemish Community of Belgium (69%), Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires (henceforth CABA [Argentina]) (63%), Spain (59%), Sweden (59%), France (55%) and Denmark (54%). Taking part in induction activities is the most prevalent in England (United Kingdom), Japan and the United Arab Emirates, as more than 85% of teachers participated in induction either in their first employment or at their current school (Figure 4.1).

The provision of induction activities can be targeted to specific teachers and TALIS data show that teachers in some contexts and situations reported higher participation in induction activities. Novice teachers i.e. teachers with fewer than five years of experience are more exposed to induction activities in primary education in several countries and economies (Figure 4.1). This is true for primary education in ten participating countries and economies, with the largest differences (more than 20 percentage points) in England (United Kingdom), Japan, and Korea. The only exception to this pattern is seen in Viet Nam where more teachers with more than five years of experience participated in induction activities in their current school (52%) than novice teachers (46%) (Figure 4.1 and Table 4.5). These results indicate that education systems who must allocate their limited resources may offer induction programmes especially to novice teachers as they will most benefit from them. Research indicates that there is a greater risk of novice teachers leaving the profession in their early years and induction could potentially minimise these risks given the positive association with teacher retention (European Union, 2013[15]; Sutcher, Darling-Hammond and Carver-Thomas, 2016[16]). However, induction programmes may also be relevant and much needed for experienced teachers who are new to a school so as to better deal with the challenges of a new working environment (Ainley and Carstens, 2018[1]). Induction may help all teachers to get familiar with the school’s working environment as well as to collaborate with their new colleagues, including the school leader, etc.

In a handful of countries, participation in induction programmes in primary education is more common among full-time teachers than among their part-time colleagues. This is true for England (United Kingdom) (21 percentage points), the Flemish Community of Belgium (9 percentage points), Japan and the United Arab Emirates (6 percentage points for both). (Table 4.5). These results are concerning as part-time teachers already have less direct contact with their colleagues and other students in school, and spend less time teaching (Ryan and Graham, 2013[17]). Part-time teachers may also face time constraints and high teaching workload, which might prevent their participation in induction in these countries. Nevertheless, induction programmes may be particularly beneficial for part-time teachers to help their integration into the new work environment and enhance their efficiency at work. An exception to this pattern is observed in Korea: part-time teachers reported a higher participation in induction activities than their full-time colleagues (37% versus 21%).1

TALIS data also show that support to teachers in the form of induction activities may be limited in primary schools in rural areas. In seven countries and economies, the share of teachers in primary education who participated in induction programmes at their current school in rural areas is lower than that of teachers in urban schools (Figure 4.1 and Table 4.5). The difference ranges from 7 percentage points in Viet Nam to 14-15 percentage points in England (United Kingdom) and the United Arab Emirates respectively. Rural schools often have fewer resources especially in terms of personnel staff. Therefore, teachers may have additional workload which may prevent their participation in induction activities (Hayes, Lachlan-Haché and Williams, 2019[18]; Peltola et al., 2017[19]).

TALIS findings indicate that some countries may also use induction programmes as a specialised support for teachers working in more challenging school environments, such as those with a high share of students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. This is true for England (United Kingdom), the Flemish Community of Belgium and Viet Nam where a higher share of teachers reported participation in induction programmes in schools with more than 30% of students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds than teachers in schools with less than or equal to 30% of students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds (about 7 percentage points) (Table 4.5). While education systems may especially target induction programmes in these schools to support teachers and work towards achieving their equity goals (Bettini and Park, 2021[22]), these results could simply indicate the availability of induction programmes for less experienced teachers who are more likely to teach in schools with a high share of students from disadvantaged backgrounds (see Chapter 2).

Compared to lower secondary education, teachers’ participation in induction programmes (either during their first employment or at their current school) in primary education is lower by 3-4 percentage points on average across the 13 countries and economies with available and comparable data for these two levels (Table 4.4). In six countries and economies, fewer teachers in primary education participated in induction than teachers in lower secondary education with the largest gaps in the Flemish Community of Belgium (27 percentage points) and France (13 percentage points). The other countries where this is true include England (United Kingdom), Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam. These differences are primarily driven by less participation in induction at the teachers’ current school. However, Japan and Korea are exceptions to this pattern where teachers in primary education’ participation in induction is higher than that of lower secondary teachers (3-4 percentage points).

One hypothesis for why there is less induction in primary education is that, in practice, they are often designed with the goal of improving the teaching practices of new teachers, i.e. their systemic goal is to provide instructional support, subject-specific and pedagogical training (Paine et al., 2003[23]). These could be priorities that are identified more often at higher levels of education (Jensen et al., 2016[24]). The goal of providing personal support to new teachers to help them adjust to their new working environment is less focused in practice, which might limit their offering in primary education. Teachers in primary education face a range of issues related to classroom management and student discipline, and generally spend more time engaging with students (see Chapter 3). It is concerning that they have less support through induction to manage their students.

Induction involves a wide range of activities that may be designed formally under a systemic framework or initiated by school leaders and teachers themselves. The type of induction activities are shaped by the skills and competencies the particular education system has identified for new teachers need to learn (Paine et al., 2003[23]). TALIS asked teachers which one of the ten elements were a part of their induction programme. While TALIS only provides information on the type of induction activities that teachers engaged in, research also points to the importance of time spent in these activities in order for teachers to benefit the most from these learning opportunities (Paine et al., 2003[23]).

Among the teachers who participated in induction activities in their current school: 82% cited participating in planned meetings with principals and/or experienced teachers; 75% said that their induction involved supervision by principal and/or experienced teachers; 71% reported participating in courses/seminars attended in person; 66% said that their induction included networking or collaboration with other new teachers; 60% said that their induction included a general administrative introduction; 56% reported that their induction included team teaching with experienced teachers; and 49% of teachers reported that their induction included portfolios, diaries or journals (Table 4.7). Induction more rarely included online courses, seminars and online activities, and a reduced teaching load: less than 30% of teachers who participated in induction activities reported that these elements were included in their induction.

Participation in induction activities that allow teachers to collaborate with each other (such as networking with other colleagues or team-teach with experienced teachers) could help teachers build inter-personal relationships with their peers and lay foundations for a collaborative school culture (Fulton, Yoon and Lee, 2005[25]). Some countries and economies where a high share of teachers (more than 85% of teachers who participated in induction) participated in networking and collaboration with other colleagues as a part of their induction include Japan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam (Figure 4.2 and Table 4.7). Team teaching with experienced colleagues is a common feature of induction in CABA (Argentina), Japan, Spain, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam where it was included for more than 60% of teachers who participated in induction.

Considering that inducting teachers into their new working environments could be daunting for education systems in the 2021/21 school year as many new teachers would have to start their roles in a virtual working environment, it is worth reflecting on online courses, seminars and other online activities as an element of induction, based on teachers’ reports in 2018. Countries where these activities in induction are used relatively more are Korea, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam where about 40-50% of teachers who participate in induction reported these elements to be included in their induction. On the contrary, these activities were quite rare in Denmark, the Flemish Community of Belgium, Japan and Sweden (less than 15% of teachers who participated in induction reported so in the 2018 survey). Indeed, the pandemic has created impetus for education systems to introduce more provisions suited to a virtual induction programme. While some countries may already have an infrastructure in place for executing induction activities on online platforms based on their use in the pre-COVID context, some countries may need more time and resources to make the transition to online forms of induction.

Even though the overall participation in induction activities is lower in primary education than in lower secondary education, some provisions of induction may be used more often in primary education (Table 4.7). For example, supervision by principal or experienced teachers is more common as an induction programme element in primary education than in lower secondary education in eight countries and economies (average difference of 2 percentage points); team teaching with experienced teachers is more common in primary education in six countries and economies (average difference of 7 percentage points); and, portfolios/ diaries and journals are more common in primary education in seven countries and economies (average difference of 8 percentage points). The presence of these modes of induction in primary education could signal a focus on developing the practical skills in the classroom for these teachers. The Flemish Community of Belgium stands out with respect to these differences as several induction provisions are far less common in primary education (online courses and seminars, online activities, planned meetings with principals and/or experienced teachers, supervision by principals or experienced teachers, networking and collaboration with other new teachers, and a general administrative introduction) with differences ranging between 4-24 percentage points.

Research evidence points to the effectiveness of induction for teachers when they combine a range of different activities for teachers (Ingersoll and Smith, 2004[10]), especially as teachers have different learning styles and may achieve different learning goals from each activity. However, the provision of induction opportunities for teachers is an expensive endeavour for education systems in addition to investment in professional development (Fulton, Yoon and Lee, 2005[25]); therefore, it is important to identify which induction features are most closely associated with positive teacher outcomes so that allocation of scarce resources may be best utilised.

Regression results based on TALIS 2018 data indicate that school-based induction activities that allow for greater interaction between teachers are especially important for education systems to consider. Five elements of induction, i.e. planned meetings with principals or experienced teachers; supervision by principals or teachers; networking and collaboration with other new teachers; team teaching with experienced teachers; and assigning mentors to teachers were regressed in a single model on teachers’ self-efficacy.

Teachers for whom team teaching with experienced teachers was a part of their induction activities reported higher levels of self-efficacy in five countries and economies in primary education – CABA (Argentina), England (United Kingdom), Spain, Sweden, and the United Arab Emirates, controlling for the other elements that were included in a teacher’s induction (planned meeting with principal or teacher; supervision by principal or teachers; networking/collaboration with other new teachers); having an assigned mentor), and other teacher characteristics (gender, age, and employment status) (Table 4.11). On the contrary, teachers who participated in a network or collaborated with other teachers as a part of their induction express higher levels of self-efficacy in CABA (Argentina), France, Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam. In Denmark, Flemish Community of Belgium, Japan, and Turkey, none of these induction elements are significantly associated with higher levels of self-efficacy.

Another learning opportunity for teachers is when they are assigned mentors, who can provide individualised support and guidance to novice teachers and teachers who may be struggling in specific areas in their practice. Mentoring programmes in schools are also an opportunity for teachers to collaborate on instructional issues and develop collegial relationships with other teachers in the school (OECD, 2019[9]).

TALIS data show that mentorship is not commonplace among teachers in primary education. On average across the participating countries and economies from primary education, 12% of teachers reported having an assigned mentor and 13% of teachers say that they are a mentor to one or more teachers (Table 4.8). The only exceptions to this overall pattern where at least 25% of the primary teaching workforce or more have an assigned mentor are the United Arab Emirates (43%) and Japan (25%). Among the subset of novice teachers, about 26% of teachers have an assigned mentor. The highest shares are seen in England (United Kingdom) (33%), Japan (47%), the United Arab Emirates (44%) and Viet Nam (33%) (Table 4.9).

The share of teachers who have an assigned mentor is mainly concentrated among teachers who have less than five years of experience. However, the United Arab Emirates stands out as a country that perhaps makes use of mentorship as a support for both experienced and novice teachers (Table 4.9). Being the country with the highest share of teachers who have an assigned mentor (43%), it is also the only country out of participating countries and economies from primary education where there is no significant difference between the share of novice and experienced teachers who have an assigned mentor. TALIS data indicate that some countries may also use mentorship as a special support for part-time teachers. In France, Spain and the United Arab Emirates, the share of part-time teachers in primary education who have an assigned mentor is significantly higher than their full-time colleagues. The share of full-time teachers in primary education who have an assigned mentor is higher than part-time teachers in their countries in England (United Kingdom) and the Flemish Community of Belgium.

Despite the low prevalence of mentorship in primary education, it seems that mentorship as a support for teachers is still used more in primary schools compared to lower secondary schools across several countries and economies – such as in CABA (Argentina), Japan, Korea and Viet Nam (3-5 percentage points) (Table 4.8). However, in the Flemish Community of Belgium and Turkey, a slightly lower share of teachers in primary education have an assigned mentor than their lower secondary counterparts (up to 5 percentage points).

Induction activities could be a valuable learning experience for teachers at all educational levels considering their benefits related to transition into new working environments for teachers. TALIS data on upper secondary education shows that teachers at this level may have more induction opportunities.

About two-thirds of the teaching workforce in upper secondary schools attended an induction programme (either in their first employment or at their current school), on average across the 11 participating countries and economies (Figure 4.3 and Table 4.4). However, 33% of the workforce at this level reported no induction activities at all.

Among the teachers who participated in an induction activity in upper secondary education, 39% participated in induction during their first employment and 50% at their current school (Table 4.4). The lowest shares of induction are observed in Brazil, Portugal and Sweden where almost half of the teaching workforce did not participate in any induction programme. A majority of teachers participated in induction during their first employment in Turkey (63%), the United Arab Emirates (56%) and Alberta (Canada) (55%). Countries where a large majority of teachers reported participating in induction activities at their current school include Croatia, Denmark and the United Arab Emirates (more than 60% in each country). While induction in teachers’ first employment may be a part of the education system’s mandate, the high shares of teachers’ induction in their current school in these countries could indicate the presence of school-led or principal-led initiatives for teachers to be inducted into the working context of respective schools (European Commission, 2010[26]).

The share of novice teachers in upper secondary education who participated in induction at their current school is higher than that of experienced teachers in Alberta (Canada) (21 percentage points), Denmark (17 percentage points), Sweden (16 percentage points) and Turkey (6 percentage points) (Table 4.6). However, no significant difference is observed between novice and experienced teachers’ participation in induction activities in Brazil, Portugal, Slovenia, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam. Exceptionally, the share of experienced teachers who participated in induction at their current school is higher than their novice colleagues in Croatia (13 percentage points difference). These results indicate that teachers’ access to induction activities is not only higher in upper secondary education but also less unequally distributed between experienced and novice teachers.

Overall, there are no differences in the share of teachers participating in induction activities between schools with a vocational education and training (VET) programme and those without a VET programme. Yet, there are two exceptions to that: in the United Arab Emirates induction among teachers is higher in schools offering vocational education programmes than in those without one (12 percentage points difference) and, in Denmark, induction among teachers is lower in VET schools compared to those without a VET programme (10 percentage points difference) (Table 4.6 ).

On average across TALIS participating countries in upper secondary education, the share of teachers who participated in induction at their first employment or current school is higher than the share of lower secondary teachers. This difference is primarily driven by the higher prevalence of induction at teachers’ current school in upper secondary education. In 7 out of the 11 countries with available data there is a higher share of teachers in upper than lower secondary education who participated in induction at their school. Both induction during first employment and at teachers’ current school are significantly more prevalent in upper secondary education than in lower secondary education in Denmark (by 12 and 24 percentage points respectively) and Viet Nam (4 and 7 percentage points) (Table 4.4). Other countries where induction in upper secondary education is higher than that in lower secondary education include Croatia, Sweden and Turkey.

The most common form of induction activities for teachers in upper secondary education are planned meetings with the principal and/or experienced teachers – reported by 82% of the teachers who participated in any formal or informal induction activity in their current school (Table 4.7). The participation ranges from 69% to 95% of teachers among those who participated in induction across the 11 countries and economies. Planned meetings with principals or experienced teachers are a core element of all induction programmes (Ingersoll and Smith, 2004[10]). Other common forms of induction in upper secondary education are supervision by principal and/or experienced teachers. This was reported by 74% of teachers on average among those who participated in induction.

As is the case at other education levels, induction for teachers in upper secondary education rarely included a reduced teaching load (26%) or online courses/seminars and activities (28-32%) (Table 4.7). Even though a reduced teaching load is relatively uncommon as an induction provision, almost half of the teachers who participated induction cited that it was included in their induction in Viet Nam (49%). The use of online platforms in induction activities stands out in Brazil, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam where it was included in the induction for 45-50% of teachers in upper secondary education. These online opportunities for induction of new teachers amid the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are crucial as they could ensure some learning continuity for new teachers.

There are few noteworthy differences in the type of induction activities for teachers in upper secondary education compared to their lower secondary colleagues. The most visible differences can be seen in Denmark where several elements of induction such as planned meetings and supervision with the principal and experienced teachers, team teaching with experienced colleagues, portfolio/diaries and journals are more prominent in upper secondary education (6-15 percentage points differences) whereas induction elements that are less prominent in upper secondary education are courses and seminars attended in person and a reduced teaching load (11 and 5 percentage points difference, respectively) (Table 4.7). In Slovenia, seven out of the ten listed induction elements were less prominent in upper secondary education even though there was no significant difference in the overall levels of teacher induction in the country between the two education levels. This indicates that induction in Slovenia could be less comprehensive, i.e. involve fewer elements for teacher induction at the upper secondary level. Another notable difference is the prominence of a reduced teaching workload in Croatia, which is higher in upper secondary education by 21 percentage points.

Teachers in upper secondary education work in a different context with an older age group of students and different instructional demands. Induction activities in upper secondary education need to serve the needs of these teachers. Therefore, it is important to re-examine the relationship between different elements of induction and teachers’ self-efficacy at this level.

Regression results based on TALIS 2018 on upper secondary education once again assert the importance of school-based and collaborative elements in induction activities. Teachers for whom team teaching with experienced teachers was a part of their induction show higher levels of self-efficacy controlling for other induction activities they participated in and their gender, age and working status (Table 4.12). This is true for Alberta (Canada), Brazil, Croatia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Teachers for whom induction included networking and collaboration with other teachers reported higher levels of self-efficacy in four countries and economies – Slovenia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam – when controlling for other elements that were included in their induction and teacher characteristics (gender, age and working status). On the contrary, planned meetings with principals and/or other teachers, which is a common element of induction across educational levels, is rarely associated with teachers’ self-efficacy across the participating countries and economies in upper secondary education.

Teachers’ reports on mentoring activities as a part of formal school arrangements show that this form of in-service learning opportunity is very limited. On average across the participating countries and economies from upper secondary education, only 11% of teachers reported that they had an assigned mentor and only 14% reported that they were an assigned mentor to one or more teachers (Table 4.8). The prevalence of mentoring ranges from less than 5% of teachers having an assigned mentor in Croatia, Slovenia and Turkey to 21% in Brazil and 43% in the United Arab Emirates. Looking at these low shares of engagement in mentoring activities raises the question of whether education systems find this a relevant form of support for teachers or not. Is the individualised support model of mentoring too time consuming for teachers? Or can the benefits of mentoring for teachers be achieved through other professional development avenues such as peer feedback, etc.?

Continuous professional development (CPD) or in-service professional development includes formal learning opportunities or training that teachers and school leaders undergo during the course of their employment and teaching practice. Teachers participate in different activities in order to build on their existing skills and knowledge, keep themselves updated on changing learning environments and overcome the challenges that emerge in their instructional roles.

Continuous professional development is based on the understanding of teaching professionals as “lifelong learners” (OECD, 2019[9]; OECD, 2005[2]). This comprises lectures, seminars, courses and qualifications but also more interactive formats such as peer observations and coaching, professional development networks or forums for teachers. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals have identified the importance of universal access to teacher training through continuous professional development to improve the qualifications of the teaching workforce in order to meet its education targets by 2030 (OECD, 2019[9]; UNESCO, 2016[27]).

Taking part in continuous professional development requires an additional time commitment for teaching professionals outside of their core teaching and planning tasks. As teachers and school leaders already grapple with heavy workloads (OECD, 2020[28]; OECD, 2019[9]), it is imperative that continuous professional development is relevant, effective and engaging. If teachers and school leaders feel that their limited time has been well spent, they will be more motivated to seek further professional development.

Participation in at least some form of in-service professional development over the school year is almost universal for teachers in primary education. On average across countries and economies participating in the primary education module of the survey, 96% of teachers said they participated in at least one professional development activity in the 12 months prior to the survey (Table 4.13). The share of teachers from primary education that participated in any form of professional development is more than 90% in all the participating countries and economies, ranging from 91% in Denmark to 99% in Korea. Teachers’ widespread participation in continuous professional development is similar in primary and lower secondary education. France, however, is a notable exception where the participation of teachers in primary education in CPD activities (96%) is significantly higher than their lower secondary peers (83%).

Participation in professional development activities in primary education seems to be related to the location of the schools where teachers teach in some countries and economies. Participation in continuous professional development activities is more prevalent among teachers in primary education in rural schools than teachers teaching in cities in Turkey (6 percentage points), the Flemish Community of Belgium (3 percentage points) and the United Arab Emirates (2 percentage points) (Table 4.14). Although these differences are rather small, they do signal that access to professional development could be further improved for teachers working in cities.

Participation in professional development in primary education also differs between experienced and novice teachers in four countries and economies. Experienced teachers’ participation in professional development was higher than novice teachers in CABA (Argentina), Sweden (4 percentage points each), and the United Arab Emirates (2 percentage points). However, in Turkey, the participation of novice teachers in continuous professional development was higher compared to that of their experienced colleagues in primary education (3 percentage points).

In addition to these overall patterns, countries where continuous professional development may be less than universal for teachers in primary education include Japan (where only 73% of part-time teachers participated in at least one professional development activity compared to 95% of full-time teachers) and Viet Nam (where a slightly lower share of part-time teachers participated in continuous professional development than their full-time counterparts) (Table 4.14). These results are noteworthy in light of monitoring progress towards United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4(c), which emphasises access to professional development for all teachers (UNESCO, 2016[27]). These results highlight areas in which access and participation in CPD are limited and which need to be monitored and improved.

With respect to principals in primary education, as is the case for teachers, professional development in at least one activity in the 12 months prior to the survey is almost universal with 97% of principals reporting so on average across the countries and economies participating from primary education (Table 4.16). Principals’ participation in professional development is above 95% in all the countries and economies participating in primary education. However, France stands out as an exception where only 71% of principals reported participation in any professional development activity. This is also notably lower than principals’ participation in professional development in lower secondary schools in France (94%). This can be explained by principals in primary education in France having a particularly heavy workload as they often hold their leadership positions in addition to teaching duties. They may be less willing to voluntarily participate in professional development activities, which are not mandatory at this level.

Research indicates that what matters for teachers’ continuous learning is the format, amount of time spent and variety of training activities (Darling-Hammond, Hyler and Gardner, 2017[29]). Professional development programmes that include an element of personal coaching for teachers are related to positive effects on instruction, especially at lower levels of instruction (Kraft, Blazar and Hogan, 2018[30]). However, it may be challenging to implement these tailored, personalised programmes at a large scale.

Teachers in primary education participated in multiple professional development activities in the 12 months prior to the survey. The average number of activities that a teacher participated in ranges from about three different types in France and Denmark to about six activities in Korea over a typical year – see Table I.5.8 in Volume I of the TALIS 2018 results (OECD, 2019[9]). The most common type of professional development activity among teachers in primary education is courses and seminars attended in person, reported by 78% of teachers on average across the participating countries and economies from primary. Courses and seminars are the most common form of professional development in eight countries and economies (Table 4.17). However, Japan is one exception where less than half of the primary teaching workforce participated in courses and seminars.

TALIS data show that online courses and seminars, which may be particularly relevant for teachers working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, were reported by 40% of teachers in primary education on average across the participating countries and economies in the 12 months prior to the TALIS 2018 survey. Interestingly, online courses and seminars were the most common form of professional development among teachers in Korea, as reported in the 2018 survey responses (95%). Other countries and economies where professional development through online courses and seminars was widely cited include France (55%), England (United Kingdom), Spain, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (44-47%). However, in Denmark, the Flemish Community of Belgium and Japan, less than 10% of teachers reported participating in online courses and seminars in the 12 months prior to the survey. Countries and economies may have an infrastructure in place for online professional development and some of them may have been better equipped to provide CPD when in-person training was disrupted in the 2020/21 school year. Additionally, the use of these online platforms may have been further expanded for teachers during the pandemic.

There are significant differences in the prevalence of different types of professional development between primary and lower secondary education. That said, the most common forms of professional development are similar. For example, courses and seminars attended in person are more frequent in primary education than in lower secondary education in eight countries and economies (a difference of 7 percentage points on average across the participating countries and economies) (Table 4.17). Education conferences as a form of CPD are more common in primary education in seven countries and economies (an average difference of 6 percentage points). Similarly, observation visits to others schools as a part of teachers’ in-service training is more common in primary education across seven countries and economies (an average difference of 5 percentage points). Only professional development in the form of observation visits to business premises, public organisations and non-governmental organisations is less common in primary education than in lower secondary education but this difference is quite small (2 percentage points, and not across all the participating countries and economies. A lower share of teachers in primary education than their lower secondary counterparts participated in online courses and seminars in Denmark, England (United Kingdom), the Flemish Community of Belgium, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam (4-8 percentage points). However, the opposite pattern is observed in France (38 percentage points) and Korea (9 percentage points).

Looking at the forms of continuous professional development in specific countries, the biggest differences between primary and lower secondary education can be observed in France where a larger share of teachers in primary education participated in online courses and seminars (38 percentage points), educational conferences (37 percentage points) and in-person courses and seminars (21 percentage points) as well as reading professional literature (10 percentage points). A smaller share of teachers in primary education than their lower secondary counterparts in France participated in a network of formed specially for their professional development, peer/self-observation as a part of a formal school arrangement, observation visits to business premises, public organisations and NGOs and formal qualification programmes (a difference of 3-5 percentage points in each).

It is imperative that professional development help teachers feel more supported, confident and better at their tasks. TALIS has captured teachers’ perceptions of whether the professional development activities they participated in in the 12 months prior to the survey improved their practices or not. Positive experiences with continuous professional development motivate teachers to spend more time on it in the future (Ravhuhali, Kutame and Mutshaeni, 2015[32]). Knowing whether teachers found CPD useful or not also helps education systems understand which aspects of professional development stand out the most for teachers, which can help them in planning for relevant professional development activities for teachers.

On average across the participating countries and economies from primary education, 84% of teachers who participated in any sort of professional development said it had a positive impact on their teaching practice (Table 4.27). More than 90% of teachers in CABA (Argentina), England (United Kingdom), Japan and Korea found it impactful. However, only 62% of teachers in primary education in France found their professional development impactful towards their teaching practice. In Denmark and Turkey, 73% of teachers found their professional development impactful.

Most teachers in primary education point out that one of the key characteristics of impactful professional development for them was that it built on their prior knowledge. This was reported by 92% of teachers on average across the participating countries and economies (Table 4.25). 78% of teachers on average, found their impactful professional development appropriately focused on content needed to teach their subjects. Both these features highlight the importance of content training in in-service professional development of teachers in primary education. In France, however, one of the limitations in making professional development impactful for teachers in primary education could be related to learning content, as a smaller share of teachers noted that effective professional development for them built on their prior knowledge (68%) and appropriately focused on the content needed to teach their subjects (61%).

Impactful professional development as the one that adapted to teachers’ personal development needs indicates the presence of need-based and responsive learning opportunities for teachers. It is reported to be a characteristic of impactful professional development by 82% of teachers on average across the participating countries and economies in primary education. However, this was noted by a smaller share of teachers in Sweden (64%), England (United Kingdom) (70%), Denmark (71%), and Japan (74%).

In seven countries and economies, a higher share of teachers in primary education than their lower secondary counterparts found their professional development impactful (3 percentage points on average). These differences range from 4 percentage points in Japan to 9 percentage points in England (United Kingdom) and Sweden. However, one exception to this pattern is France where the share of teachers in primary education who reported that their CPD was impactful is 9 percentage points lower than that of their lower secondary counterparts.

Regarding the characteristics of impactful professional development, a higher share of teachers in primary education noted that impactful professional development appropriately focused on content required to teach their subject (eight countries and economies), had a coherent structure (nine countries and economies), was adapted to their personal development needs (eight countries and economies) and built on their prior knowledge (seven countries and economies) (Table 4.25). These differences could simply mean that there were more of these elements in professional development in primary education; it could also mean that these factors matter more to teachers in primary education for their professional development to be impactful.

Teachers’ self-efficacy and how often they use cognitive activation practices in the classroom are both signals of the quality of teaching gauged by TALIS (Ainley and Carstens, 2018[1]).

Teachers’ self-efficacy is important not only for its positive relationship with their pedagogical practices (Holzberger, Philipp and Kunter, 2013[33]) but also relates to job satisfaction, commitment and less likelihood of burnout (Avanzi et al., 2013[34]; Chesnut and Burley, 2015[35]). Regression results indicate that teachers in primary education who participated in educational conferences where teachers and/or researchers present their research or discuss educational issues tend to have higher levels of self-efficacy in eight countries and economies – Denmark, England (United Kingdom), the Flemish Community of Belgium, France, Japan, Korea, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, controlling for other forms of CPD that a teacher participated in and teachers’ gender, age and employment status. Another form of professional development that stands out as significantly associated with higher levels of self-efficacy among teachers in primary education is peer or self-observation and coaching as part of a formal arrangement in five countries and economies – Canada (Alberta), Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam (Table 4.18).

Cognitive activation practices consist of instructional activities that require students to evaluate, integrate, and apply knowledge in the context of problem solving (Lipowsky et al., 2009[36]). It is perhaps the most demanding and complex dimension in teaching practices (see Chapter 3) in terms of operationalisation. Regression results indicate that certain professional development activities are positively associated with teachers in primary school using cognitive activation practices in the classroom in different countries. Teachers in primary education who participated in educational conferences where teachers and/or researchers present their research or discuss educational issues tend to use cognitive activation practices in their instruction more often in five countries and economies (England [United Kingdom], the Flemish Community of Belgium, Korea, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates), controlling for other forms of CPD that a teacher participated in, teachers’ gender, age and employment status (Table 4.20).

Online courses and seminars are associated with primary teaches using cognitive activation practices more often in five countries and economies – the Flemish Community of Belgium, France, Spain, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates. Formal qualification programmes are associated with more frequent use of cognitive activation practices in the Flemish Community of Belgium, France, Korea and the United Arab Emirates even though this form of professional development is relatively uncommon among teachers in primary education. Reading professional literature is positively associated with cognitive activation practices in Denmark, France, Korea and Spain.

Notably, when teachers attend courses and seminars in person there is a positive association with higher levels of teachers’ self-efficacy and frequent use of cognitive activation practices only in CABA (Argentina). It is negatively associated with self-efficacy in France and with cognitive activation in Korea. While teachers in primary education attending courses and seminars in person is one of the most prevalent forms of CPD (78% on average), these findings call into question the time and resources spent on this form of professional development and their relevance for teachers in primary education.

In upper secondary education, participation in at least some kind of professional development activity in a typical year is widespread. On average across the 11 participating countries and economies, 95% of teachers participated in at least one professional development activity in the 12 months prior to the survey. More than 90% of teachers reported so Denmark, Sweden and Turkey and more than 95% in Alberta (Canada), Croatia, Slovenia, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam (Table 4.13). However, participation in continuous professional development among teachers in upper secondary education is not as widespread in Brazil (87%) and Portugal (88%).

Fewer part-time teachers participate in continuous professional development in upper secondary education compared to their full-time colleagues in Sweden (11 percentage points), Brazil (7 percentage points), Portugal and Turkey (4 and 3 percentage points) (Table 4.15). Part-time teachers’ participation in continuous professional development may not necessarily be a problem of access to CPD opportunities. Instead, their lower rate of participation in such activities may be voluntary – teachers who chose to work part-time may not prioritise CPD and may not be willing to increase their working hours to allow for additional training commitments. However, policy efforts can be focused on motivating part-time teachers to participate in at least some form of professional development during the year so they can update their skills and find CPD more relevant to their work.

Teachers with more than five years of teaching experience reported higher participation in continuous professional development than novice teachers in Portugal (11 percentage points), Sweden (4 percentage points), Croatia and the United Arab Emirates (2-3 percentage points). As novice teachers are likely to have recently graduated from teacher education programmes and gone through induction, they may not participate as much in continuous professional development as experienced teachers. Consequently, engaging in some form of continuous professional development is be a requirement for experienced teachers in some countries in order to maintain their jobs or progress to higher ranks (see Annex A for country background information).

In Sweden, participation in at least some form of continuous professional development is higher among teachers working in schools with a vocational education and training (VET) programme (96%) than teachers in schools without any VET programme (91%) (Table 4.15).

Just as in primary and lower secondary education, courses and seminars attended in person are the most reported form of professional development for teachers in upper secondary schools in 8 out of 11 participating countries and economies (78% on average across teachers in upper secondary education) (Figure 4.5 and Table 4.17). The second most common form of professional development is reading professional literature (77% on average across participating countries and economies). It is the most reported type of CPD by teachers in Croatia, Denmark and Viet Nam. Participation in education conferences where teachers and/or researchers present their research or discuss educational issues is reported by 57% of teachers in upper secondary education on average across the 11 participating countries and economies.

Professional development can also take a collaborative form when teachers closely work together on instructional processes. This includes peer and/or self-observation, and coaching as part of a formal school arrangement as well as participation in a network of teachers formed specifically for teachers’ professional development. An average of 44% and 46% of teachers, respectively, reported these types of professional development. Countries with the highest shares of teachers participating in peer/self-observation include the United Arab Emirates (87%) and Viet Nam (56%). Participation in a network of teachers formed especially for professional development is widespread in Viet Nam (75%), the United Arab Emirates (73%) and Alberta (Canada) (66%).

The biggest differences between upper secondary and lower secondary education in terms of prevalence of professional development programmes are in observation visits to business premises, public organisations or non-governmental organisations (an average difference of 9 percentage points). There are nine countries and economies where this form of CPD is higher among upper secondary teacher, with the largest differences seen in Sweden (19 percentage points), Croatia (16 percentage points) and Slovenia (14 percentage points).

Observation visits to other schools are more common among teachers in upper secondary education compared to their lower secondary counterparts in Croatia, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates. They are less common among teachers in upper secondary education in Slovenia, Turkey and Viet Nam. Peer/self-observations and coaching as a part of formal school arrangement is less common among teachers in upper secondary education compared to their colleagues in lower secondary education in Portugal (7 percentage points) and Slovenia (18 percentage points). Participation in a network of teachers formed especially for their professional development is less common among teachers in upper secondary education in Croatia, Slovenia, Sweden and Turkey (differences ranging from 4-13 percentage points).

On average across the participating countries and economies in upper secondary education, 83% of teachers cited that the professional development they received in the 12 months prior to the survey had a positive impact on their teaching practices. Countries and economies where a lower share of teachers reported this include Denmark, Sweden and Turkey (73-75%). On the contrary, the highest share of teachers in upper secondary education who found their professional development impactful towards their teaching practices was in Alberta (Canada) (92%). These results signal that most teachers in Alberta (Canada) have access to high-quality and relevant professional development and that they also have a positive attitude towards these learning opportunities.

The characteristics of impactful professional development for teachers remain similar across education levels. Professional development to build on teachers’ prior knowledge is the most cited characteristic of impactful CPD, as noted by 92% of teachers on average across the participating countries and economies in upper secondary education. On average, 77-79% of teachers felt that professional development was impactful when it was adapted to their professional development needs, had a coherent structure and appropriately focussed on the content needed to teach their subjects.

A slightly smaller share of teachers in upper secondary education in Croatia (3 percentage points) and Slovenia (6 percentage points) found their professional development impactful compared to their lower secondary counterparts. However, the opposite is observed for teachers in upper secondary education in Denmark and Viet Nam (4 percentage points).

Even in upper secondary education, professional development through educational conferences where teachers and/or researchers present their research or discuss educational issues stands out as positively associated with higher levels of teacher self-efficacy in six countries and economies (Brazil, Sweden, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam) (Table 4.19), controlling for other forms of continuous professional development that a teacher participated in, and teachers’ demographic characteristics (gender, age and employment status, i.e. full-time or part-time). Professional development in the form of peer and/or self-observation and coaching as part of a formal school arrangement is positively associated with teachers in upper secondary education’ self-efficacy in five countries and economies – Alberta (Canada), Croatia, Portugal, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam.

When it comes to the use of cognitive activation practices in the classroom, regression results indicate that teachers who participated in online courses for professional development, educational conferences, peer or self-observations and coaching etc. use cognitive activation practices in the classroom more often. This is the case for several countries and economies when controlling for other forms of professional development that a teacher participated in and teachers’ demographic characteristics (Tables 4.2 and 4.21).

These results highlight the significant association of specific professional development activities with important indicators of teacher quality (self-efficacy and use of cognitive activation practices). They also show that more than one type of professional development activity can be important and beneficial for teachers. The elements of professional development activities that stand out in the regression results are also those that research has found to be effective – i.e. involving active learning, collaboration, coaching and expert support (Darling-Hammond, Hyler and Gardner, 2017[29]).

Understanding teachers’ professional development needs at each level of education is paramount for the efficient distribution of training resources. It is also important for ensuring professional development is relevant, timely and impactful so that teaching professionals will see it as supporting their work.

A range of factors shape teachers’ professional development needs in primary and upper secondary schools– these include students’ age groups; schools’ working environments; the instructional and social-emotional demands of their positions; and teachers’ pre-service training and qualifications at a particular level etc. For this analysis, teachers’ professional development needs were organised into three overarching categories:

  • Subject matter and pedagogy-related CPD need – knowledge and understanding of teachers’ subject field(s), pedagogical competencies in teaching their subject field(s), knowledge of the curriculum, student assessment practices, analysis and use of student assessments

  • Skills and management-related CPD need – including ICT skills for teaching, student behaviour and classroom management, school management and administration, teaching cross-curricular skills and teacher-parent/guardian co-operation

  • Teaching for diversity-related CPD need – approaches to individualised learning, teaching students with special needs, teaching in a multicultural or multilingual setting, and communicating with people from different cultures or countries.

Teaching for diversity is an area for policy intervention for providing teachers with relevant continuous professional development opportunities. The largest share of teachers in primary education identified teaching students with special needs as an area of high need for professional development on average across the participating countries and economies (28%) (Figure 4.6 and Table 4.24). This area is the most frequently cited for high need of professional development among teachers in primary education in seven countries and economies – Japan (61%), France (47%), CABA (Argentina) (41%), Denmark (29%), Spain (27%), the Flemish community of Belgium (24%) and the United Arab Emirates (20%).

Teachers in primary education also expressed a high need for training in approaches for individualised learning (20%, on average), teaching in a multicultural or multilingual setting (17%) and communicating with people from different cultures or countries (13%). In Turkey, the most frequently cited area of high need for professional development is communicating with people from different cultures (23%).

Training in ICT skills is also in high demand. An average of 23% of teachers in primary school reported a high need for training in this area (Figure 4.6 and Table 4.23). Compared to other areas of CPD, it was the most cited by teachers in primary education in England (United Kingdom) (8%) and Sweden (25%). About 56% of teachers in primary education reported a high need for professional development in ICT skills for teaching in Viet Nam, 35-39% in France and Japan, and at least one-fifth of the primary teaching workforce (more than 20%) in CABA (Argentina), Korea, Spain and Sweden. These results show that teachers’ ICT training is not only inadequate but that teachers are realising they can use ICT to create meaningful learning experiences for their students. Indeed, these results reflect teachers’ pre-pandemic ICT training needs, and these needs may have been further augmented as digital technology became the primary mode of instruction in the new educational context.

A considerable share of teachers also express a high need for training in student behaviour and classroom management – 21% on average across participating countries and economies from primary education (Figure 4.6 and Table 4.23). The largest shares of teachers express this in Viet Nam (72%), Japan (53%) and Korea (33%). These results indicate that teachers in primary education could be better supported to deal with behaviour management issues through training, especially as time spent on classroom management takes up a significant proportion of instructional time for teachers in primary education (see Chapter 3), and can also be a cause of stress for teachers (see Chapter 6).

There is a greater need for professional development in teaching for diversity in primary than in lower secondary education. Teachers’ reporting a high need for professional development in teaching students with special needs is higher among teachers in primary education in seven countries and economies, and 6 percentage points higher compared to lower secondary teachers’ on average across the participating countries and economies (Table 4.24). The largest differences are in Denmark, the Flemish Community of Belgium, France, Japan and Viet Nam (10-15 percentage points). Similarly, a high need of training in approaches to individualised learning and teaching in a multicultural or multilingual setting was reported by a larger share of teachers in primary than in lower secondary education (2-3 percentage points, on average).

Teachers’ professional development need in specific skills and management is also higher in primary education in several countries and economies. The share of teachers in primary education who expressed a high need of training in ICT is bigger than that for their lower secondary counterparts in seven countries and economies, with the largest difference in France (12 percentage points) (Table 4.23). The share of teachers in primary education who expressed a high need for professional development in student behaviour and classroom management is higher in eight countries and economies, with the largest differences in Japan (9 percentage points) and France (7 percentage points).

With respect to teachers’ need for training in subject matter and pedagogy, there are some differences between primary and lower secondary teachers, especially related to assessments (Table 4.22). Notable differences can be seen in Viet Nam where a higher share of teachers in primary education than lower secondary teachers expressed a high need for training in student assessment practices, their use and analyses (a difference of 6 percentage points). There are slightly smaller differences in the same area in Spain, Sweden and Japan. As for exceptions, a less share of teachers in primary education than lower secondary teachers expressed a high need for training in knowledge and understanding of their subject in England (United Kingdom), Japan, Sweden and Viet Nam (up to 5 percentage points differences).

Identifying the professional development needs of principals is equally important for education systems to be able to support their leadership and for leadership to support teachers. Overall, the professional development needs of school leaders in primary education mirror that of their counterparts in lower secondary education.

On average across participating countries and economies, principals in primary schools prioritised training in developing collaboration among teachers (28%), using data to improve the quality of the school (27%), and designing the school curriculum (26%) (Tables 4.28 and 4.29). The largest share of principals reported a high need for training in developing collaboration among teachers in Viet Nam (78%), Japan (51%) and Korea (43%).

Another area related to school leaders’ support towards teachers is designing professional development for/with teachers, where on average about a quarter of school leaders (26%) express a high need of training on average across the participating countries and economies. Principals cited this most often among all other areas of CPD need in Sweden (14%) and Turkey (22%) and the largest share of principals expressed a high need for training in this area in Viet Nam (56%), Korea (41%) and Japan (38%) and the Flemish Community of Belgium (34%) (Table 4.29).

Using data to improve the quality of school is the area of training principals cited most in Viet Nam (82%), the United Arab Emirates (27%), the Flemish Community of Belgium (39%) and Denmark (13%) (Table 4.28). TALIS data also indicate a growing share of principals demanding training in promoting equity and diversity in their schools (16% on average). The largest share of principals expressed a high need of training in this area in Viet Nam (56%), Korea (34%), Japan (23%) and Spain (23%).

Teaching for diversity is the area with the greatest need of professional development among teachers in upper secondary education. A high need for training in teaching students with special needs was reported by 21% of teachers on average across the 11 participating countries and economies (Table 4.24). It is the most cited area of training need in seven countries and economies, the highest being in Brazil where 61% of teachers reported a high need for continuous professional development in this area.

With respect to training in skills and management, teachers in upper secondary education express a high need for training in ICT skills for teaching as well as cross-curricular skills. This was reported by 17-18% of teachers on average across the participating countries and economies. Teachers’ need of professional development in these two areas go hand in hand, for example, the largest shares of teachers’ express a high need for professional development in both these areas in Viet Nam (51% and 60%), Brazil (27% and 19%) and Croatia (21% and 22%) whereas the share is quite small in Alberta (Canada) (8-9%), Denmark (8% and 6%), the United Arab Emirates (9% and 8%) (Table 4.23 and Figure 4.8).

Teachers’ need for training in areas related to subject matter and pedagogy lie between 12-14% of teachers on average for the five areas of professional development – knowledge and understanding of the subject, pedagogical competencies in teaching the subject, knowledge of the curriculum, student assessment practices and analysis and use of student assessments.

In upper secondary education, teachers’ need for professional development is less than that of their colleagues in lower secondary education in some areas – teaching students with special needs (3 percentage points), approaches to individualised learning (2 percentage points), student behaviour and classroom management (2 percentage points), and teacher-parent/guardian co-operation (2 percentage points) (Tables 4.23 and 4.24). Fewer teachers in upper secondary education express a high need for training in teaching students with special needs in 6 out of 11 countries and economies with the largest differences in Croatia and Denmark (10 percentage points).

Principals in upper secondary schools express a high need for training in using data for improving the quality of the school (29% on average across the 11 participating countries and economies), financial management (27%) and developing collaboration among teachers (27%) (Tables 4.28 and 4.29).

Results indicate that the administrative responsibilities of school leaders may be particularly daunting to their work in upper secondary schools. This is reflected in financial management as the most cited area of professional development need in Brazil (36%), Portugal (45%) and Turkey (15%). Training in human resource management also emerges as the most cited area for upper secondary principals in Viet Nam (73%) and Croatia (50%) (Table 4.29).

Developing collaboration among teachers is a high priority area for professional development. This indicates that principals recognise the need for teacher collaboration and may take actions to promote it given relevant training in this area (see Chapter 5 for more discussion on instructional leadership) (OECD, 2016[39]). More than one-third of principals in Croatia (40%), Portugal (37%) and Viet Nam (70%) reported this as an area of high need for professional development (Table 4.29). This is largely the same for principals in lower secondary education. Other areas of professional development need that reflect principals’ interest in supporting teachers and improving instruction instructional are designing professional development for/with teachers (23% of principals express a high need for training in this area), providing effective feedback (21%) and observing instruction in the classroom (18%). Together these areas point to principals’ need for training in exercising instructional leadership.

Feedback is key to teachers’ everyday practice. TALIS defines feedback as any form of information that teachers receive about their instructional practices based on some form of interaction with their work (e.g. observing teaching in the classroom, discussions on curriculum or student results). The use of feedback for teachers to improve their teaching practice and, ultimately, student achievement, has become an integral part of teacher evaluations (Isoré, 2009[40]). However, TALIS identifies a broader view on feedback for teachers as an important form of professional development and support, and one of the five pillars of teaching as a profession (Ainley and Carstens, 2018[1]). Feedback enables teachers to interact with their colleagues (both senior colleagues, e.g. school leaders and department heads, as well as peers). This constitutes an important form of teacher collaboration (OECD, 2020[28]).2

A new challenge for education systems posited by COVID-19 is ensuring teachers continue to receive feedback in their new virtual working environments. Even more important is that the feedback that teachers receive is relevant to their emerging needs in these times, and that it includes, for example, supporting teachers on social-emotional learning, relationship building and student engagement (Giffin, 2020[7]).

About 7% of teachers in primary education reported that they have never received any feedback in their school (Table 4.30). The largest share of teachers who have never received any feedback are in Spain (20%), Sweden and France (13%), and Turkey and Denmark (11-12%).

Feedback in primary education mainly comes from school-level sources – i.e. 76% of teachers, on average, received feedback from the school principal and/or members of the school management team and 57% of teachers received feedback from other colleagues within the school. However, a considerable share of teachers in primary education also received feedback from external individuals or bodies (39%). Feedback coming from school-level authorities or external bodies may be more evaluatory in nature whereas feedback from other colleagues within the school could be understood as peer feedback. The latter could be an important lever of support and inter-dependence for teachers in primary education.

In most countries and economies, the main source of feedback for teachers out of the above three is the school principal and/or school management team. However, peer-feedback, i.e. feedback cited by teachers received from other colleagues in their school is widely prevalent in Korea (88%), Viet Nam (79%) and Japan (70%).

Comparing these results to feedback in lower secondary education, the share of teachers who did not receive any feedback is significantly lower than the share of lower secondary teachers who reported that they have never received any feedback in CABA (Argentina), Denmark, the Flemish community of Belgium and Korea (Table 4.30). Teachers’ reports indicate that feedback from external sources or bodies as well as the school principal and/or members of the school management team is more common in primary education. However, peer-feedback is less common in primary education (3 percentage points difference on average) – seen in England (United Kingdom) (15 percentage points), Viet Nam (11 percentage points), CABA (Argentina) (9 percentage points), the Flemish community of Belgium and the United Arab Emirates (5 percentage points). Denmark and Sweden are exceptions to this pattern as peer-feedback is more common in primary education in these countries (differences of 8 and 6 percentage points, respectively).

Feedback, i.e. information that teachers receive about their teaching practice can be provided through several methods. TALIS asked teachers about which of the six methods were used in the feedback they received – observation of their classroom teaching; student survey responses related to their teaching; assessment of their content knowledge; external results of the students they taught; school and classroom-based results of students; and self-assessment of their work.

Feedback through multiple methods is common across all levels of education. On average across participating countries and economies from primary education, 56% of teachers reported receiving feedback based on at least four different methods (Table 4.31). The share of teachers in primary education who received feedback based on one method only is 9% on average across the participants. The largest shares of teachers in primary education who received feedback through at least four different methods are from Viet Nam (97%), the United Arab Emirates (82%), Korea (70%) and England (United Kingdom) (69%). On the contrary, teachers’ reliance on feedback through a single method is more common in France (19%) and Denmark (16%).

Teachers receiving feedback through multiple sources is unequally distributed between experienced and novice teachers. In eight countries and economies, a higher share of teachers with more than five years of experience reported that they received feedback through at least three different methods or more compared to those with less than five years of experience. The highest gaps were observed in CABA (Argentina), Denmark, the Flemish community of Belgium, France and Sweden (differences of 9-13 percentage points) (Table 4.32).

Observation of teachers’ classroom teaching is reported as one of the most common forms of feedback in primary education. On average across participating countries and economies, 85% of teachers reported that they have received feedback based on observations of their classroom teaching and it is the most common method of feedback in ten countries and economies (Table 4.34).3 The share of teachers who received feedback based on this method ranges from 71% in Denmark to 99% in England (United Kingdom) and Viet Nam. However, one exception to this pattern is Spain where the share of teachers who reported receiving feedback on this method is not as high (54%). While it is not clear to what extent feedback based on classroom observations is used for evaluation or training purposes or a combination of both (Tymms, 2003[41]), the advantage of this method is that it is closest to teachers’ actual practices and, therefore, evidence-based. Observation of teachers’ classroom teaching not only helps to provide feedback on teachers’ instructional practices but also captures teachers’ interactions with students and ways that student engagement can be improved and classroom disciplinary issues managed. However, this form of feedback is likely the most disrupted in virtual learning environments due to the pandemic (Giffin, 2020[7]).

Feedback based on school and classroom results is also common in primary education as reported by 73% of teachers on average (Table 4.34). It is the most common compared to other methods of feedback in CABA (Argentina) (83%) and Spain (66%). More than 90% of teachers received feedback based on this method in England (United Kingdom), the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam. Education systems usually use this form of feedback in order to combine training and development purposes for teachers with diagnostic or monitoring purposes such as teachers’ performance, appraisal or accountability (Muralidharan and Sundararaman, 2010[42]; OECD, 2014[43]; Tymms, 2003[41]). Teachers in primary education also receive feedback through their students’ external results as reported by 62% of teachers.

Another method that can be a crucial lever in helping teachers in primary education improve their practices is feedback based on assessment of their content knowledge. For teachers in primary education who often teach several subjects, developing content expertise on the job is much needed as their initial training may only provide an introduction to different content areas (Jensen et al., 2016[24]). On average across the participating countries and economies, 56% of teachers received feedback based on this method. While only 30% or less of teachers received feedback based on this method in Denmark, Spain and Sweden, it is most widely used in Viet Nam (98%) and the United Arab Emirates (84%) (Table 4.34).

Feedback through multiple methods is more commonly used in primary education than in lower secondary education in several countries and economies. The share of teachers who received feedback through three or four different methods is higher by more than 10 percentage points in primary education in CABA (Argentina) and the Flemish community of Belgium, and by smaller margins in four other countries – England (United Kingdom), France, Sweden and Viet Nam (Table 4.31).

Comparing results on different methods of feedback used for teachers in primary education with those in lower secondary education, it is promising to see that a higher share of teachers in primary education received feedback based on classroom observations in CABA (Argentina), Denmark, the Flemish Community of Belgium, France, Japan, Korea and Turkey (4-8 percentage points) (Table 4.34).

However, the largest differences between education levels are seen in feedback in the form of students’ external results of students that the teacher teaches. In the Flemish Community of Belgium (27 percentage points), France (17 percentage points), Spain and Sweden (4-5 percentage points), a higher share of teachers in primary education received feedback based on external results of students compared to their lower secondary counterparts. The opposite pattern is observed for this method of feedback in Korea and Turkey (differences of 14-15 percentage points), and Denmark and the United Arab Emirates (4-5 percentage points) (Table 4.34).

TALIS data indicate that most teachers in upper secondary education have had some exposure to feedback. However, about 8% of teachers on average in upper secondary education reported never receiving any feedback in their school (Table 4.30), with the highest share of teachers in Portugal (23%), Sweden and Turkey (12-13%). On the contrary, almost all teachers have received feedback of some kind in the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam where 99% of teachers have reported so.

The feedback that teachers received in upper secondary education also comes mainly from school-level sources. On average across the participating countries and economies, 80% of teachers reported that they received feedback from the school principal and/or members of the school management team. Further, 59% reported that they received feedback from other colleagues within their school, which signals the prevalence of peer feedback for more than a majority of teachers on average. The percentage of teachers who received feedback from their peers ranges from 32% in Brazil and Turkey to 92% in Viet Nam. Feedback from external individuals or bodies is also quite prevalent in upper secondary education as 34% of teachers reported so on average across the participating countries and economies (Table 4.30).

The overall prevalence of feedback for teachers in upper secondary education is largely similar to that in lower secondary education. Two exceptions to this pattern are Denmark where the share of teachers who reported receiving feedback is 7 percentage points higher in upper secondary education; and in Slovenia, the share of teachers who received feedback is 2 percentage points lower in upper secondary education (Table 4.30).

Similar to the results seen in primary education, more than half of the teaching workforce in upper secondary education (57%) received feedback based on at least four different methods on average across the 11 participating countries and economies while the share of teachers who received feedback through only one method is 8% (Table 4.31). TALIS results show that novice teachers received feedback through less number of methods compared to experienced teachers. While 67% of novice teachers (those with less than five years of experience) received feedback through at least three different methods, a higher share, 73% of experienced teachers received feedback through these many methods (Table 4.33). The largest gaps (more than 10 percentage points) are seen in Brazil, Denmark and Slovenia.

On average across the 11 participants from upper secondary education, 82% of teachers reported that they received feedback based on classroom observations (Table 4.34). The largest share of teachers in upper secondary education received feedback based on classroom observations of their teaching in 8 out of 11 participating countries and economies in upper secondary education. However, one exception to this widespread use of classroom observations for teacher feedback is Portugal where only half of the teaching workforce (49%) cited that they received feedback based on this method.

Feedback based on school and classroom-based results of students is also widespread in upper secondary education as cited by 74% of teachers on average across the 11 participating countries and economies. This form of feedback is the most common among teachers in Brazil (84%) and Portugal (60%) compared to other methods of feedback used in these countries. Feedback to teachers based on students’ external results are reported by 68% of teachers on average across the participating countries and economies, with the highest shares observed in Slovenia, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam (82-86%).

Feedback from students, for example, in the form of surveys can be a powerful stimulus for teacher reflection specially to understand students’ needs better (Mandouit, 2018[44]). On average across the 11 participating countries and economies in upper secondary education, 60% of teachers received feedback based on student survey responses related to their teaching (Figure 4.10). However, less than half of teachers received feedback based on this method in Alberta (Canada) (42%), Portugal (43%) and Turkey (37%). Research indicates that the efficacy of this method and, for that matter, any other feedback method, depends on the feedback model and guidance to teachers on how to reflect on and identify areas of improvement. However, its limited use can also mean that it is only used as a performance measure for evaluating teachers (Boudett, City and Murnane, 2013[45]; Mandouit, 2018[44]).

Differences between upper secondary and lower secondary education levels also indicate that in some countries and economies, teachers may be more likely to receive feedback through a variety of methods in upper secondary education. This is true for Croatia, Denmark, Slovenia and the United Arab Emirates where a higher share of teachers in upper secondary education reported receiving feedback based on at least four different methods compared to their lower secondary colleagues (2-11 percentage points difference) (Table 4.31).

Compared to lower secondary education, the largest differences in the use of different methods of feedback can be observed in students’ external results and student survey responses related to the teachers’ teaching (Table 4.34). For instance, feedback based on the external results of students is more common in upper secondary than in lower secondary education in Croatia (17 percentage points), Viet Nam (15 percentage points), Portugal (5 percentage points) and the United Arab Emirates (3 percentage points). But this method of feedback is less common in upper secondary education in Denmark and Sweden (13-14 percentage points), and Turkey and Slovenia (7 percentage points).

Considering that students in upper secondary education are older, the use of student surveys to provide feedback to teachers is made possible and used significantly more in upper secondary education compared to lower secondary education. The highest differences are observed in Denmark (28 percentage points), Slovenia (26 percentage points) and Sweden (20 percentage points) (Figure 4.10). Smaller differences (up to 10 percentage points) are observed in Croatia, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates.

The nature of TALIS data allows for education systems to identify how teachers perceive the use and relevance of feedback they receive. Understanding teachers’ attitudes towards feedback is important in ensuring that the aims of feedback to improve teachers’ practices and ultimately improve student achievement are achieved (Hattie and Timperley, 2007[5]).

The findings in this report on teachers’ perception of feedback mirror those of Volume II of the TALIS 2018 results. While a large majority of teachers finds that feedback helps them improve their practice, the impact of feedback for teachers could be further maximised (OECD, 2020[28]).

Among the teachers in primary education who received feedback, 76% of them on average noted that it had a positive impact on their teaching practice (Table 4.35). The lowest shares of teachers who find feedback impactful come from Denmark, France, Spain and Turkey (60-63%) while the largest shares of teachers who find feedback impactful are in Japan and Viet Nam (88% and 91%, respectively).

TALIS data show that the importance of feedback for teachers may be higher in primary education than in lower secondary education. A higher share of teachers in primary education reported that the feedback they received had a positive impact on their teaching practice (an average difference of 5 percentage points). This is reflected in ten countries and economies, with the largest differences in the Flemish community of Belgium (12 percentage points), CABA (Argentina) and England (United Kingdom) (8 percentage points). These findings could be shaped by several possibilities – teachers in primary education have a more positive attitude towards feedback because it helps them improve their instruction, or that the content of feedback is more suited to the needs of teachers in primary education.

In upper secondary education, 74% of teachers on average across the participating countries and economies find the feedback they received to have a positive impact on their teaching practice. The lowest share of teachers who find feedback impactful is in Denmark (55%) while the highest share is in Viet Nam (95%). These results are largely similar to teachers’ views on the impact of feedback in lower secondary education in these countries. The only exception is Slovenia where a smaller share of teachers in upper secondary education (78%) reported finding feedback impactful than their lower secondary counterparts (83%). These results signal that there is further scope for improving the relevance and utility of feedback for teachers in these countries. Initial results from TALIS 2018 noted that in countries in which the overall reported impact of feedback for teachers is low, there is also a significant difference between novice and experienced teachers’ utility value for feedback (OECD, 2020[28]).

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Notes

← 1. Part-time teachers working in national and public schools in Korea are employed on a permanent basis. Most part-time teachers have similar support and benefits as full-time ones because they are also permanently employed. In addition, they can choose to work as part-time temporarily for one year, which means their working status will change back to full-time.

← 2. See Chapter 5 for further discussion and results on teacher collaboration in primary and upper secondary education.

← 3. The percentage is estimated based on the subset of teachers who received feedback from one of the following sources: external individuals or bodies, school principals or members of the school management team, other colleagues within the school (not a part of the school management team).

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