The most recent ministerial guidelines stipulate that teachers should view their professional practice in terms of continuous improvement and apply the necessary means to develop and update their professional skills. However, this commitment to lifelong learning is sometimes hampered by serious obstacles related, in particular, to logistics (methods, cost, time, duration, location) and the professional context (lack of time and resources due to lack of manpower). ).
At the same time, the management of diverse needs and, in particular, the destructive behavior of some students is a serious problem that causes an urgent need for training for many teachers. Indeed, disruptive student behavior can lead to stress for teachers and is even considered the single most important cause of burnout.
Considering that professional development is associated with the implementation of best professional practices, with an improved sense of personal effectiveness and, therefore, with well-being at work, it is advisable to consider professional development paths taking into account the realities of the teaching profession.
By investing in research into the implementation of practices that promote student success, we are interested in the potential of mass online education (Massive Open Online Course – MOOC) to improve the skills of teachers.
What is a MOOC?
MOOCs are free online learning that can reach an unlimited number of learners, with no entry requirements, and whose content is designed and structured by experts, usually academics, in the field. Participants are invested in a learning process that takes into account their pace, their need for commitment and aims to update their knowledge using a variety of methods: videos, readings, questionnaires, discussions, experiments, etc.
MOOCs with teachers as their target audience are few and relatively new. Certainly, given their innovative aspect, which allows students to receive quality education for free and at their own time, they promise to support the professional development of teachers. In this direction, and in response to the need for training in the field of intervention with students with behavioral difficulties, the Laval University has developed the MOOC “Point ADHD: Understanding, Supporting and Accompanying Young People”.
Based on good practices recognized by research in the field of professional development and interventions with young people with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), this MOOC aims to train school staff working with young people aged 5 to 17 years with ADHD to implement effective practices of intervention with them. This training also aims to encourage participants to reflect on their practice in order to make changes deemed necessary to be able to support the educational success of students with ADHD.
Hyperactivity, inattention and opposition
In school, students with ADHD may have difficulty maintaining attention, organizing themselves, regulating verbal and motor activity levels, controlling and restraining their behavior, and establishing quality relationships with peers and teachers. In addition to hindering the educational success of students with ADHD, these manifestations can have a negative impact on the well-being of teachers. In fact, behaviors associated with hyperactivity and inattention, as well as behaviors associated with opposition, cause teachers the most stress. Thus, compared to other students with special needs, children with ADHD cause teachers more doubts and a greater need for support.
In light of these findings, this training, divided into four modules, first offers an overview of ADHD based on the latest scientific literature to enable educational stakeholders to better understand its symptoms and manifestations. It then looks at various intervention approaches and strategies that can help school staff intervene more effectively with students with ADHD and better support them in their development and learning in school.
This particular MOOC is a set of tools containing many effective strategies. Also presented are specific interventions related, in particular, to schooling (success in reading, writing and mathematics), development of social skills, emotional regulation, anxiety and oppositional behavior.
Teachers with the best equipment
This MOOC has just completed its fourth edition. To date, it has already attracted more than 35,000 participants. The results of the study conducted during its 2nd edition (Winter 2020) highlight the satisfaction of the participants (86% overall satisfaction rate). In addition, 90% of respondents believe that their participation in MOOCs has enabled them to expand their knowledge, change attitudes, and interact more effectively with students with ADHD. In addition, the results of this study demonstrate an improved sense of self-efficacy in teaching students with ADHD between the start and end of a MOOC. Thus, after MOOCs, the vast majority of participating teachers consider themselves more competent and prepared to work with these students.
The results of this study encourage to consider MOOCs as a promising professional development activity to support the implementation of effective practices among students and improve the well-being of teachers. Indeed, this is a scenario that allows us to believe in the potential of MOOCs to meet the learning needs of teachers. The use of this innovative technology is an important step forward in education and has social significance, as it contributes to the availability of quality education at the university.
Those responsible for the professional development of teachers in collaboration with higher education institutions should consider the potential of MOOCs to meet teacher training needs.