Teacher Learning and Professional Development

Professional development (PD) is a virtually universal experience for teachers, who participate in conferences and workshops, professional learning communities, and coaching and mentoring programs, among other endeavors aimed at improving their practice. On average, a full 99% of teachers are involved in PD every year, supported by billions in annual PD-related school expenditures and state requirements that all teachers earn PD credit for recertification.

We use quantitative and qualitative techniques to study the systems and practices shaping music and arts teacher engagement with PD as well as the evolving theoretical and operational understandings of quality in PD. Specifically, we have leveraged nationally representative surveys to document trends in PD participation over time; case study methods to explore how models of effective PD are applied in real-world contexts; and policy analysis to scrutinize the regulation and provision of PD at the school and district levels.


Doctoral Students

Lab Alumni (Current Positions)

Other Collaborators


West, J. J., & Bautista, A. (2022). Global perspectives on teacher professional development: Navigating the pandemic. International Journal for Research in Education, 46(1), 1–27. [pdf

West, J. J., Stanley, A. M., & Appova, A. K. (2022). Exogenous shocks and teachers’ motivation to learn: Pandemic and professional development in the United States. International Journal for Research in Education, 46(1), 261–308. [pdf]

West, J. J., Stanley, A. M., Bowers, J. P., & Isbell, D. S. (2021). Attrition, (de)motivation, and “effective” music teacher professional development: An instrumental case study. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 229, 7–28. [pdf]

West, J. J., & Bautista, A. (2021). Greater than the sum of its parts: Promoting systemness in music and arts teacher professional development. Arts Education Policy Review 22(1), 54–64. [pdf]

West, J. J. (2021). Is music teacher professional development becoming more effective? Evaluating practice and policy in the U.S., 1993–2012. Journal of Research in Music Education, 69(3), 321–342. [pdf]

West, J. J. (2020). Understanding the process of proximate change following music teachers’ participation in large-scale conferences: A grounded theory. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 225, 67–94. [pdf]

West, J. J. (2019). From the conference to the classroom: Elevating short-term professional development for lifelong learning. General Music Today, 31(1), 24–28. [pdf]

West, J. J., & Frey-Clark, M. L. (2019). Traditional versus alternative pathways to certification: Assessing differences in music teacher self-efficacy. Journal of Music Teacher Education, 28(2), 98–111. [pdf]

West, J. J. (2019). Social capital and music teacher professional development: Principle, policy, and practice. Arts Education Policy Review, 120(1), 33–44. [pdf]