Source: Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, Volume 28, No. 1, p. 16-26. Fall, 2011.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
Teaching teachers how to conduct an observation is a vital step in the analysis of teaching that perhaps is often skipped.
To address this gap in teacher preparation, the researchers developed an online workshop for teacher trainees.
The research questions this study explored were:
1. In what ways did an online workshop affect teacher trainees’ ability to recognize and describe teaching behaviors in a video observation?
2. Do participants believe they will apply their newly acquired observation skills in their own teaching practice?
Design of the Online Workshop
To prepare a group of teacher trainees to interpret videos of their own teaching, the researchers developed a self-paced, online workshop to introduce micro-ethnographic techniques for observing and analyzing teaching through video.
A series of video tutorials and activities guides teacher trainees through the process of viewing the same video clip through different lenses.
They are asked to reflect on student response opportunities, teacher use of praise, and feedback to student error.
In Module 1, the participants watch an instructional video that defines “response opportunities” for new teachers in terms of who the teacher chooses to call on to respond to a prompt or question and whether it is the whole class, or a student seated near or far from the teacher.
The video shows viewers how to complete the observation worksheet for response opportunities and guides them through one example.
The teacher candidates repeat the process in Modules 2 and 3.
Each module has a unique explanation of the teacher behavior to observe and a video clip that shows an example.
The use of praise in the second module is defined as type of praise and purpose of praise. The third module centers on response to error, in which teacher candidates asked to look for what the teacher does when a student provides an incorrect answer.
The three modules are followed by a posttest , which parallels the pretest in involving participants in viewing the same video they had selected in the pretest, with similar questions about what they are seeing.
Participants in in this study were forty-seven teacher candidates enrolled in four sections of a master’s-level seminar in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) at a large, urban, northeastern college of education.
The participants completed the entire workshop, including the pretest, posttest, and all three training modules, and the Blackboard course captured the results.
For each of the three online modules, teacher candidates completed an observation worksheet and then responded to five open-ended questions about that module.
Data collected from teacher candidates’ observation worksheets and responses to open-ended questions after each of the three online modules indicated that they were able to see, code, and describe the behavior that they were being directed to observe.
Therefore, the results showed that this training led to an increased awareness of the teacher’s actions in terms of how they related to or created student involvement.
Furthermore, the participants at the end of the workshop echoed their perception that video was important for the teaching profession.
In addition, 53% of the participants pointed out that the training helped them reflect on their own teaching.
Approximately one-third felt that they learned classroom observation and analysis skills from the online workshop.
In addition, 28% stated that they learned teaching strategies from the training videos.
The results indicate that though these teacher trainees were relatively new to video observation of teaching, most of them were able to correctly label and provide evidence for the observable teaching behaviors targeted in each observation.
The online workshop met the specific goals of teachers recognizing common patterns in classroom interaction.
The findings suggest that the online format may be particularly conducive to activities involving observation in video, since the online environment affords students the time and space in which to explore and reach deeper understanding.