Can virtual replace in-person coaching? Experimental evidence on teacher professional development and student learning

Auteur(s) : Cilliers, Jacobus; Fleisch, Brahm; Kotzé, Janeli; Mohohlwane, Nompumelelo; Taylor, Stephen; Thulare, Tshegofatso

Date: 2021

Pages: 70 p.

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Virtual communication holds the promise of enabling low-cost professional development at scale, but the benefits of in-person interaction might be difficult to replicate. The authors report on an experiment in South Africa comparing on-site with virtual coaching of public primary school teachers. After three years, on-site coaching improved students' English oral language and reading proficiency (0.31 and 0.13 SD, respectively). Virtual coaching had a smaller impact on English oral language proficiency (0.12 SD), no impact on English reading proficiency, and an unintended negative effect on home language literacy. Classroom observations show that on-site coaching improved teaching practices, and virtual coaching led to larger crowding-out of home language teaching time. Implementation and survey data suggest technology itself was not a barrier to implementation, but rather that in-person contact enabled more accountability and support.

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