Instructional Practices Inventory Overview
A Process for Profiling Student Engaged Learning for School Improvement Initiatives
The Instructional Practices Inventory evolved in 1995-1996 during the development of a school-based, comprehensive, systemic school improvement initiative called Project ASSIST. The acronym ASSIST stands for Achieving Success through School Improvement Site Teams, a phrase descriptive of the process used to initiate and support school improvement. The Project is based upon the belief that school-wide change can be fostered by creating within a team of teacher-leaders and the principal the capacity to lead school-wide change. This form of periodic support is relatively unique in school improvement models, but holds promise as a reform method. The Project is grounded in two “frameworks” for school improvement. One is a Student-Centered “content” framework and the other a Vision-Driven “process” framework. For more details about the design and research findings, see the Project ASSIST section of this website.
In the design stages of Project ASSIST, we (the Center’s graduate assistants, assistant director, and director) believed an outcome measure that represented observational data about student engaged learning was essential. Graduate assistant Bryan Painter conducted an extensive, yet unproductive, search for an observational tool or process that would codify and document student engagement data. We concluded that a process that would accomplish our desired goal did not exist so Bryan Painter and the Center director began the design of the Instructional Practices Inventory (IPI). During the early stages of use, they realized that the IPI met the need for an outcome measure and served as a valuable process for collaborative problem-solving. Serendipitously, it was a tool that created profiles for measuring instructional change and a process for using the profiles to promote professional community and organizational learning.
The creation of a set of observational categories complex enough to provide substantive data grounded in the knowledge of best practice (valid) yet easily understood and interpreted was a design goal. In addition to the importance of developing the right set of categories, a process for collecting the data had to be designed that would produce reliable data from observation to observation and observer to observer. Eventually a coder-training process had to be developed to ensure that the data collectors produced valid and reliable data.
The experiences of the Center director, a graduate research assistant, and a data collector for a McREL-funded, inquiry-based learning project at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln were valuable in the development of the IPI. The inquiry project used 34 categories to analyze teacher-student interaction in the learning setting. For his dissertation, the Director developed a 42-category observational system for analyzing principal, teacher, parent, and student interaction. From those experiences, he concluded that an observational process of only a few categories addressing the nature of how students were learning was more appropriate than an extensive, detailed set of categories and sub-categories. The director’s experiences as a leader for the development of performance-based evaluation and supervisory instruments for the states of Missouri and Kentucky and his service as an initial assessor for NASSP’s national Principal Assessment Center project reinforced the importance of category simplicity, protocols for data collection, and structured strategies for training data collectors.
After more than ten years of use, experiences and findings convince the developers that documenting and analyzing student learning behavior a vital component in the process of enhancing instruction throughout the school environment. Engaging teachers in the analysis and redesign of instruction is just as vital for change. The IPI process, when used properly, provides valid, reliable data for profiling student engaged learning and serves as the basis for the collaborative problem-solving faculty conversations necessary in a professional learning community.
Initial understanding of the IPI can be obtained by reading two documents posted on this website. The first paper was posted on the MLLC website in August, 2005. That document provides basic insight about the IPI process, its development, and some initial research. The second document was posted to the MLLC website in December, 2006. That second paper is very similar to the original document but provide more recent insight into the use and research associated with the IPI. The links to these basic explanatory reading about the IPI are below.