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Ask A REL Response

April 2019


What research has been conducted on the effect of the instructional walkthrough on teachers' instructional practices?


Following an established REL Southeast research protocol, we conducted a search for research reports as well as descriptive study articles on the effect of the instructional walkthrough on teachers' instructional practices. We focused on identifying resources that specifically addressed the effect of the instructional walkthrough on teachers' instructional practices. The sources included ERIC and other federally funded databases and organizations, research institutions, academic research databases, and general Internet search engines (For details, please see the methods section at the end of this memo.)

We have not evaluated the quality of references and the resources provided in this response. We offer them only for your reference. These references are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. Also, we searched the references in the response from the most commonly used resources of research, but they are not comprehensive and other relevant references and resources may exist.

Research References

  1. Harmon, H. L., Gordanier, J., Henry, L., George, A. (2007). Changing teaching practices in rural schools. Rural Educator 28(2), 8-12.
    From the abstract: "This article describes the approach of a five-year initiative, funded by the National Science Foundation, to improve the teaching of mathematics and science in 10 rural school districts of Missouri. Traditional challenges of improving the professional practice of teachers are addressed through a regional partnership. External project evaluation results reveal specific teacher challenges, the change strategy of the Ozark Rural Systemic Initiative (ORSI), and what teachers value most. Continuous, regional content-specific professional development; follow-up technical assistance to schools; administrative walk-throughs; assistance of lead teachers; and external evaluation reinforce that what counts most are effective teaching practices in classrooms with students. School district leadership and regional partners will be the key to continued success and long-term sustainability of the evolving learning communities and new teaching practices in schools. (Contains 1 figure.)"
  2. Manning, R. J. (2018). The practical use of qualitative research software in the analysis of teacher observation documents in the school improvement process. Journal for Leadership and Instruction, 17(2), 25-30.
    From the abstract: "It is well documented that classroom observation reports are used by school leaders as just one piece of the clinical supervision process of teachers (Cohen and Goldhaber, 2016). While the frequency of classroom observations might vary between school districts, recent regulations on Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) have added more consistency to this process in New York State (USDOE, 2014). The challenge for school leaders has been to gain actionable data from observation reports in the school improvement process. Until recently, observation documents were filed as they occurred providing difficulty for school leaders to make connections between observations of individual teachers. Likewise, school district leaders were unable to elicit trends across classrooms without intentional, time consuming review of observation documents. The increasingly ubiquitous use of computer based software in the classroom observation process presents an opportunity for this analysis (Goldring et al., 2015). While most programs allow for quantitative analysis of observation scores and individual component ratings, none provide for the qualitative analysis of evidence collected by school administrators in the observation process. This paper attempts to initiate a process by which data from classroom observation reports can be systematically and efficiently analyzed through the use of available qualitative research software. The power of the qualitative research software to organize the data and allow the user to perform queries reveals limitless possibilities of analysis. School district leaders can use this information to develop instructional goals, train administrators how to document the occurrence of the instructional goals within classrooms, and then monitor progress on the implementation of those goals. Unlike other initiatives, this program of analysis capitalizes on a process that currently exists across all schools in New York State."
  3. Rissman, L. M., Miller, D. H., & Torgesen, J. K. (2009). Adolescent literacy walk-through for principals: A guide for instructional leaders. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.
    From the abstract: "The purpose of this "Adolescent Literacy Walk-Through for Principals" ("ALWP") is to help principals monitor and support adolescent literacy instruction in their schools more effectively. To meet the goals of improving adolescent literacy in grades four through twelve, principals must be familiar with what literacy instruction should include and how to assess the quality of classroom literacy instruction quickly and effectively. The "ALWP" can be used to build a secondary school leader's literacy knowledge and to provide guidelines for structuring schoolwide professional development. As they work with teachers to improve instruction, school leaders could use this guide to help monitor literacy instruction in (1) late elementary school, (2) content-area classes in middle and high school, and (3) intervention groups or classes. The information gathered may be useful in planning and implementing ongoing professional development to support effective literacy instruction in individual classrooms and across grade levels and subject areas. This document assumes more than a beginning level of knowledge of reading and reading instruction. It summarizes research in adolescent literacy instruction and provides a resource to help convey the messages of state policy and research-based reading instruction through templates that principals may use. This "ALWP" is offered as a scaffold to build principals' understanding of scientifically based reading instruction, both as a means for gathering information about the quality of literacy and reading intervention instruction in a school, and as a data collection guide for planning targeted professional development and resource allocation. Policies and materials to support policies can influence classroom implementation when (1) teachers have opportunity to learn what the policy means for their practice, (2) there is coherent interpretation within the state framework of policies, but also from the classroom to the state level, and (3) support is available for innovation, even when it requires considerable effort (Cohen & Hill, 2001). (Contains 2 tables.) [For related report, "Eight Scenarios Illustrating the Adolescent Literacy Walk-Through for Principals," see ED521605.]"
  4. Ziegler, C. (2006). Walk-throughs provide stepped-up support: Edmonton builds a framework of support for teaching and learning to increase high school completion rate. Journal of Staff Development, 27(4), 53-56.
    From the abstract: "Edmonton Public Schools district implemented a framework of support for teaching and learning, and a key element supporting the framework is instructional walk-throughs, which provide staff opportunities to learn from one another. Instructional walk-throughs help move the staff from a culture of isolation to a culture of collaboration and support. They provide teachers and leaders with the opportunity to take an honest look at the level and the type of instruction in the classroom (Davidson-Taylor, 2000) and provide schools with data about their progress in achieving identified goals. This article presents one instructional walk-through model and shows how it enhances student achievement and provides job-embedded professional learning."


Keywords and Search Strings
The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • classroom walkthroughs, impact on instructional practices
  • instructional walkthroughs, teachers' instructional practices
  • informal observations, classroom walkthroughs, educational improvement

Databases and Resources
We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of over 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences. Additionally, we searched Google Scholar and PsychInfo.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published for last 15 years, from 2003 to present, were include in the search and review.
  • Search Priorities of Reference Sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations, academic databases, including ERIC, EBSCO databases, JSTOR database, PsychInfo, PsychArticle, and Google Scholar.
  • Methodology: Following methodological priorities/considerations were given in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types - randomized control trials,, quasi experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, etc., generally in this order (b) target population, samples (representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected, etc.), study duration, etc. (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, etc.

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Southeast Region (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast at Florida State University. This memorandum was prepared by REL Southeast under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0011, administered by Florida State University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.