Reflecting on Others Before Reflecting on Self: Using Video Evidence to Guide Teacher Candidates’ Reflective Practices

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Published: 
September 1, 2020

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, v71 n4 p420-433

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This convergent parallel mixed methods research study (see Creswell & Clark, 2017) seeks to investigate one promising practice for systematically guiding video analysis by directing teacher candidates to focus on others before focusing on self and teaching about a reflection continuum using an instructional framework to build prerequisite skills and ultimately improve candidates’ reflective ability.

This investigation aimed to answer three research questions using quantitative and qualitative approaches:
Research Question 1: Will candidates’ reflective ability as measured by a written reflection checklist change over time?
Research Question 2: How do candidates perceive guided video analysis activities within their clinical field experience?
Research Question 3: Is there an association between candidates’ reflective ability as measured by the reflection checklists (quantitative data) and candidates’ perceptions of guided video analysis during their clinical field experience (qualitative data)?

Method
Setting and Participants
Thirteen teacher candidates were included in this investigation. They were completing their clinical field experience during summer while enrolled in a mild/moderate disabilities teacher licensure program within one MidAtlantic university. The 13 participants included six elementary and seven secondary special education candidates.
The clinical field experience was paired with four seminar classes.
The seminar instructor (author) was directly involved in the data collection.
 

Investigation Procedures
Candidates completed a 10-week clinical field experience as part of a semester long seminar.
Specific to this investigation, candidates completed two video analysis sessions where they video-recorded two complete lessons and watched their video evidence back to write two reflections.
The first video analysis session (pre-assessment) took place after the first seminar class where candidates were taught prerequisite skills for reflection activities.
During the first seminar class, a reflection checklist with a continuum of four reflection dimensions (describe, analyze, judge, and apply) and five teaching elements (communication, questioning, engagement, assessment, and flexibility) was introduced.

During each of the three remaining seminar classes, candidates watched a different unedited video-recorded lesson of a veteran teacher and were required to
(a) identify the five focus teaching elements,
(b) describe teaching choices,
(c) analyze why teaching choices may have been made,
(d) judge the teaching strengths and weaknesses, and
(e) make suggestions for possible future lessons.

The purpose of reflecting on video evidence of others during class was to support candidates’
(a) ability to identify critical classroom events,
(b) comfort viewing video evidence, and
(c) practice using a reflection continuum all before being asked to engage in the second video analysis session at the end of the semester.
After the final seminar class, candidates completed their second video analysis session (post-assessment) by once again recording themselves teaching a complete lesson, watching the video evidence back, and writing a reflection.
Candidates were aware of the expectation to write about all five teaching elements using all four dimensions of reflection when reviewing their video evidence.
They were given the flexibility to record any complete lesson (i.e., a lesson with a beginning, middle, and end) in an attempt to account for potential restrictions placed on teaching opportunities by their cooperating teachers.

Measures

Written reflection checklist - Reflective ability was measured using the same written reflection checklist candidates used to guide their reflection activities.
The researcher-created checklist was designed to capture both the continuum of reflection statements and specific teaching elements.
The continuum of reflection statements was measured as four dimensions of reflection (describe, analyze, judge, and apply).
In addition, five teaching elements (communication, questioning, engagement, assessment, and flexibility) were pulled from Domain 3, Instruction, of the Danielson Framework (Danielson, 2013) and used in the checklist.

Structured interview - The interview was given at the end of the semester and was intended to capture each candidate’s perspectives regarding reflection activities within the student teacher field experience and corresponding seminar.
Candidates answered 10 open-ended questions intended to capture the strengths and weaknesses of the teacher preparation approach employed during this investigation.

Social validity survey - A five-item, 5-point Likert-type scale survey was administered during the final seminar class.
Candidates rated how helpful to their professional development was focusing class discussions on reflection activities. The discussions on reflection included specific teaching elements using the continuum of reflection practices, where higher scores equated to more helpful.

Findings and discussion
Reflective ability is a skill that needs to be taught just like all other teaching skills (deBettencourt & Nagro, 2018).
The purpose of this investigation was to better understand one promising practice for systematically guiding video analysis by directing candidates to focus on others before focusing on self and teaching about a reflection continuum using an instructional framework to build prerequisite skills and ultimately improve candidates’ reflective ability.
The observable significant changes suggest candidates did improve their ability to reflect across four dimensions within a continuum while remaining on topics specific to their instruction.
What is unique to this study is demonstrating that a comprehensive approach to systematically guiding reflection activities improved candidates’ ability to identify and write about specific elements of instruction captured on video and move away from mainly simple description to reflect across deeper dimensions.
The current study does not make claims about the generalization of improved reflective ability to instructional skills, but does demonstrate that reflective ability can improve significantly through highly structured experiences without repeated exposure.
Research Question 2 was intended to help identify why candidates felt these changes occurred.
Candidates reported the learning experience was
(a) a systematic approach to authentic growth,
(b) a challenging approach to necessary self-confrontation, and
(c) allowed for connections between self and other. Similar to past work (Deniz, 2012; Seidel et al., 2011), candidates in this investigation expressed apprehension or discomfort in viewing themselves on video reinforcing the importance of preparing candidates for video-based self-reflection activities. Despite anxieties related to video analysis, candidates reported an improved understanding of how to identify effective teaching which made reflection activities more accessible and less abstract.
Taken together, this approach to guiding reflection activities was cost-effective and considered useful by candidates.
Research Question 3 was intended to assess the validity of the findings through methodological triangulation by testing the association between candidates’ reflective ability scores and the three central themes identified through qualitative analyses.
Candidates who had high reflective ability were more likely to view the experience as challenging but necessary.
Reflection activities are wide ranging in nature.
As designed, this investigation valued structured reflection activities over free write or spontaneous style reflection activities.
The rigidity of the reflection checklist may have prevented valuable learning experiences from being captured.
Candidates attributed their greater understanding of video analysis, including what teaching elements to look for and how to reflect on these elements, to the systematic guidance provided during this study, but external influential factors such as other field experience activities cannot be ruled out.
The lack of a control group makes it impossible to know how this approach to guiding video analysis compares to other approaches.
Reflection activities are integral to teacher preparation.
Given the rising popularity of the use of video analysis as a measure of candidates’ growth during their preparation (i.e., edTPA, Pearson Education, 2014), continued efforts in understanding how to guide reflective practices with video evidence remain important.
Candidates first need to be taught what reflective practice is, why it matters, and how to engage in reflection activities.
After these foundational steps, candidates can be expected to demonstrate growth in their ability to reflect across deeper dimensions beyond simple retellings.
Upon entering the workforce, candidates will be expected to demonstrate profession-readiness, which includes an emphasis on self-reflection (CEC, 2012). Comprehensive teacher preparation should include best practices for promoting reflective ability.
This study is one example of how being systematic in the approach to teaching professional aptitudes like reflective ability is necessary and beneficial.

References
Council for Exceptional Children. (2012). Initial preparation standards with elaborations. Retrieved from https://exceptionalchildren.org/standards
Danielson, C. (2013). The framework for teaching evaluation instrument (2013 ed.). Princeton, NJ: The Danielson Group.
deBettencourt, L. U., & Nagro, S. A. (2018). Tracking special education teacher candidates’ reflective practices over time to understand the role of theory in clinically-based teacher preparation. Remedial and Special Education. Advance online publication.
Deniz, J. (2012). Video recorded feedback for self regulation of prospective music teachers in piano lessons. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 39, 17-25.
Pearson Education. (2014). edTPA fact sheet. Retrieved from http://edtpa.aacte.org/about-edtpa
Seidel, T., Stürmer, K., Blomberg, G., Kobarg, M., & Schwindt, K. (2011). Teachers learning from analysis of videotaped classroom situations: Does it make a difference whether teachers observe their own teaching or that of others? Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 259-267. 

Updated: Oct. 26, 2020
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