Characteristics of Professional Development That Lead to Change in Instructional Practices

School districts need to provide teachers with professional development they find useful in helping to change their practices, especially during times of significant educational reform. This study aims to answer the question, “What characteristics of professional development lead to change in teacher practices?” Research based features of effective professional development along with identified barriers to change are used as the foundation for this mixed methods study. Results from a cluster sample of TK-fifth grade teachers from one elementary school were analyzed using a Likert Scale and coding analysis. The results of this study suggest that significant time for collaboration, a longer duration of PL experiences, and supportive environments for implementing new strategies will improve the usefulness of PL offered to teachers. Results from this study can be used by educational leaders to help design more effective PL opportunities and ultimately increase student achievement. Keywords: barriers, change, characteristics, collaboration, duration, effective, professional development, educational reform, supportive environments, strategies, student achievement