The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Using Evidence of Impact and Examples of Professional Learning Journeys

Your professional learning (PL) underpins the Professional Update process. Knowing and evidencing the impact of your learning on your thinking, professional actions and pupils and/ or colleagues is a critical part of the Professional Update process.

Planning and reviewing the impact of professional learning based on rigorous self evaluation processes is an integral part of the Professional Review and Development (PRD) process. This provides an opportunity for you to engage in critically reflective dialogue about your professional learning, drawing on evidence of impact.

Self-evaluation involves asking deep and searching questions about your professional knowledge, understanding, skills and practice. As part of this process your self-evaluation should be supported by evidence from a range of sources drawn from day-to-day learning and teaching. More information about the PRD process and the six key features of effective PRD can be found on the Education Scotland website at:

But, what do we mean by evidence? What can be considered as evidence? When and why is evidence important?

Here we provide some guidance and examples on gathering and using evidence of impact as part of your Professional Learning journeys. The three examples are from teachers who have engaged in the process of self evaluation, reflecting on professional learning and using evidence of impact to inform their thinking. The examples show how they have reflected on this in preparation for their PRD.

The diagram below captures the PL process and the place of evidence within it. When you engage in self evaluation and reflect on your practice, your professional learning (plans for or impact of), or your pupils' learning it should be informed by some form of evidence. The following questions are an important part of this process:

  • What you do (your behaviours)
  • Why you do it (your values, belief, assumptions, aspirations)
  • How your feel (use your emotional intelligence)
  • How you think
  • How do I know this is important/ worthwhile?
  • What difference is it making?
  • How do I know?

The professional learning process

PL wheel

Gathering evidence of impact of your professional learning helps to make explicit the processes of thinking and learning about practice. For Professional Update and the PL process, using evidence should not be about 'proving a competence' or gathering lots and lots of data - the 'keep everything' mentality.

Evidence of impact should:

  • help you develop knowledge and understanding of practice and pupils' learning.
  • be about a genuine reflection and analysis of your thinking, practice and professional actions.

This process should allow you to think about you and your learning, as well as your practice and pupil learning. A key part of this process is asking: "What have I learned?".

It is about moving from tacit reflections to a more explicit analytical process. Often this involves a shift from being reactive to a more proactive approach to PL. This might well involve you focusing on a one or two critical incidents as part of your learning process. You may find the book 'Critical Incidents in teaching' by David Tripp (2012) useful. This is available as an eBook via MyGTCS.

From data to evidence: the importance of analysis

Evidence should come from a wide range of sources and does not always need to be a written record. Data is everywhere but for it to be evidence it must:

  • Be relevant and meaningful for your purposes. What is it you need to know? Why is this the most useful/meaningful source of information for you?
  • Asking the 'right' questions of the data and being critical.
  • Be analysed and reflected on. What does the data tell you? What does that mean for you and your practice? How does it relate to other knowledge/ information (policy, other practice, literature, research)

You might find the book 'Putting together Professional Portfolios' by Christine Forde, Margery McMahon and Jenny Reeves (2009) a useful resource. This is available as an eBook via MyGTCS.

  • Reflections on professional dialogue with peers, parents, colleagues and learners
  • Individual critical reflections on practice, including reflective journals
  • Analysis of pupil work, individual or group focused
  • Analysed teacher talk (from audio and/ or video recording)
  • Analysed pupil talk (individual, group and pair)
  • Analysis of surveys taking account the views of children and young people, parents and colleagues
  • Reflection on and analysis of lessons and/ or discussions with learners
  • Analysis of visual data, artefacts
  • Analysed pupil interviews/ group discussion
  • Analysed quantitative or statistical data sets

The list below gives some suggestions of data/ information that could be collected

  • Professional Learning log
  • Professional Dialogue
  • What do I hear myself saying? (record myself?)
  • Observation of self (using technology)
  • Observation by peer
  • Learner experience
  • Learner motivation
  • Learner outcomes
  • Learner voice
  • Learner achievement
  • Learner engagement
  • Formative assessment
  • Survey of learners
  • Focus groups/ interviews
  • Summative assessments
  • Pastoral notes
  • Individual Education Plan (IEP)
  • Attendance data
  • Parent/ Carer support
  • Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation
  • Benchmark/ Insight data

Questions to ask yourself

  • What data/information will I collect?
  • Why is this the best method for collecting evidence?
  • Why is this data/ information important?
  • How do I plan to collect evidence?
  • How will this data/ information help me to answer my questions?
  • How do I plan to analyse my data/ information?
  • What questions will I ask of the data/ information?
  • What is my data/ information telling me?
  • How might I organise my data/ information?
  • What does the literature say about my questions/issue/provocation?
  • How might I check out my findings?
  • Who can I share my learning with?
  • How might I test assumptions?
  • What is missing from my data/ information?
  • Are there any patterns in my data/ information?
  • Does my data/ information agree or disagree with current thinking, policy, literature?
  • What are my next steps?
  • Gathering Evidence of Impact (PDF)
    • The following three examples show how individual teachers have engaged with this process and used evidence as part of their ongoing professional learning and practice. Each example captures the professional learning journey and reflections on impact. The teachers each draw on the GTCS Standards, professional reading and examples of extracts of evidence used to inform learning. These examples provide a synthesis of the journey and were used to prepare for the PRD discussion.

      The teachers did not bring to their PRD discussion a folder of 'stuff' or evidence to 'prove' engagement, competence or completion of work. Instead, they reflected on important aspects of their learning, teased out main areas from their self evaluation, and identified the key extracts of analysed evidence of impact they used to inform them.

      Karen is a teacher in Parkside Primary in the Scottish Borders. Parkside have adopted practitioner enquiry as a whole school approach to professional learning and her professional learning was centred on her practitioner enquiry work.

      Karen has presented her professional learning and summary of the evidence of impact she has used on a poster. When you view the poster you can click on active hyperlinks to view:

      • examples of her annotated and analysed evidence
      • her poster summarising the practitioner enquiry she completed
      • her notes for her PRD

      You can view Karen's evidence of impact below:

      Craig is a maths teacher in Hamilton Grammar, South Lanarkshire. He has captured his professional learning journey over the last year in a Prezi. He summarises and reflects on his professional learning and draws on key extracts from his analysed evidence of impact. It is a synthesis of his professional learning and professional actions. This year Craig focused his professional learning around the notion of the 'flipped classroom'. What started out as an initial interest and question has evolved into an enquiry. Craig used this to prepare for and inform the dialogue as part of his PRD.

      You can view Craig's learning journey and examples of evidence by accessing his Prezi. A Prezi is an online presentation tool. Use your keyboard arrows to navigate through the prezi:

      Lesley is a Depute Head Teacher at Blairgowrie High School. She has captured her professional learning journey using prezi. She provides a detailed reflective account of her professional learning as she tackled a complex timetabling project. She links her learning to her professional reading and considers the challenge of evidencing impact of professional learning in her management role.

      You can view Lesley's learning journey and examples of evidence by accessing her Prezi. A Prezi is an online presentation tool. Use your keyboard arrows to navigate through the prezi:


    For further information about Professional Update, contact:

    T: +44 (0)131 314 6000