Preservice Teachers’ Skills to Identify Effective Teaching Interactions: Does It Relate to Their Ability to Implement Them?

March 1, 2021

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, Volume: 72 issue: 2, page(s): 180-194

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study examines the question, “Are there associations between preservice teachers’ skill to implement effective teaching interactions in a classroom and their skill to notice effective teaching interactions in a video?”
This article also asks, “How are teacher education programs within the same university associated with preservice teachers’ ability to identify effective teaching interactions in videos?”
Together, these research questions provide evidence of the connection between the skill of identifying effective teaching interactions and implementing these interactions.
Current in-service teaching evidence suggests that teacher–child interactions support children’s development (Cadima et al., 2010; Curby et al., 2009) and that teachers’ skill to identify such interactions relate to their skill to implement them (Jamil et al., 2015).
This study takes the knowledge gained from this line of research and applies it to preservice teachers.
Specifically, this study sought to investigate the following research questions:
1. What is the association between preservice teachers’ skill to identify effective teaching interactions and their skill to implement such interactions?
2. What is the association between preservice teachers’ program membership and individual characteristics to their skill to identify effective teaching interactions?

Data were collected at a mid-sized public university considered “most selective” (U.S. News, 2020) and located in a mid-Atlantic state over the course of three academic years as part of a larger data-gathering initiative (Wiens, 2014). Participants for the current study included 130 preservice teachers in the final year of their teacher education program.
All of the preservice teachers participate in at least two field placements prior to the student teaching experience examined in this study.
The field experiences begin with preservice teachers observing and working with small groups of students in the first placement.
In the second placement, they observe and teach in small group and whole class lessons which leads to the student teaching experience which is a full semester.

Data for this study were collected in the final year of the teacher education program.
Teaching observation data were taken from a one semester fall student teaching placement which occurred in the second to last semester in the program.
Preservice teachers in their final year complete a one-semester student teaching placement in the fall semester.
Field placement locations were in rural and small city public school settings.
Preservice teachers in their student teaching placement video-recorded themselves teaching an entire lesson during a 2-week period toward the end of their placement when they had taken on full teaching responsibilities.
The student teachers were given the freedom to record and upload a video from a lesson of their choice as long as the lesson occurred during the time period where the student teacher has assumed full-time teaching responsibilities.
The student teachers were not given specific instructions about what type of lesson to record.
These videos were uploaded to a website and coded using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) system by trained raters.
From the videos submitted by preservice teachers, two sets of CLASS codes from the same lesson were generated by a trained rater and then composited into one mean score.
The skill to identify effective teaching interactions was measured using the VAIL through an online portal.
Preservice teachers completed the VAIL assessment following the completion of their semester-long student teaching experience.
Participants had until the end of the spring semester following student teaching to complete the Video Assessment of Interactions and Learning (VAIL) assessment.
Trained raters then coded the responses used in this study.

Findings and discussion
This study brings forward three important findings.
First, there is an association between preservice teachers’ skill to identify effective teaching interactions and their skill to perform those same interactions.
Second, there is a relationship between teacher education programs and teaching interactions in student teaching.
Finally, this study demonstrates the potential for conducting research in teacher education settings using standardized measures.

The Relationship Between Implementing and Identifying Effective Teaching Interactions
This study shows an important link between the skill to enact effective teaching interactions in a student teaching experience and the skill to identify or notice those teaching interactions in classrooms.
This study found a significant relationship between participants’ skill to implement effective teaching interactions and their skill to detect effective interactions in videos of other teachers.
In the authors’ sample, preservice teachers’ skill to identify these interactions was positively correlated with the Emotional and Instructional Supports provided.
Their study with preservice teachers, however, did not find an association between identifying interactions on the VAIL and the Classroom Organization dimension of the CLASS.
Further examination of the content of the VAIL video addressing that domain as well as the prompt for participants is required to understand why this is the case.
In addition to Instructional Support, the authors also found a relationship between performance on the VAIL and Emotional Support.
It is interesting that their sample of preservice teachers showed an association between Emotional Support and the skill to identify effective teaching interactions as this was not found with in-service teachers.
It is possible that teachers who are more attuned to their students’ affective needs are also more observant of effective teaching interactions in videos.

The Relationship Between Program and Performance
The authors did not find a significant association between program characteristics and the skill to identify effective teaching interactions in videos.
They did, however, find that program variables were associated with preservice teachers’ observed teaching interactions in their student teaching experience.
Program characteristics showed a consistent relationship with teaching quality throughout the analysis.
Teaching specialty (elementary, secondary, special education) was associated with different scores in all three domains of the CLASS.

This may indicate that these different preparation programs focus on different teaching skills that lead to differences in how these individuals engage in classroom interactions.
A particularly interesting finding was that elementary teachers demonstrated higher quality interactions than secondary teachers in Instructional Support.
Future elementary teacher coursework at this university tends to focus more on teaching methodology while secondary program courses include a higher proportion of content courses.
These differences certainly need further investigation.

Building a Foundation for Understanding and Improving Teacher Education
The current work demonstrates the usefulness of using a general measure designed for all content areas and teaching levels and based on an empirical and theoretically supported framework for analyzing teaching interactions (Hamre et al., 2013) within preservice education.
This study shows how standardized measures of teaching interactions and preservice teachers’ ability to identify effective teaching interactions can provide systematic program data on critical skills that are a focus of training.
The VAIL can potentially detect changes in the levels of expertise in noticing and detecting effective teaching interactions over time as the VAIL has been shown to be reliably implemented at multiple points in a teacher education program (Wiens et al., 2013).
This study builds on previous work with the VAIL to directly link the ability to identify teaching interactions to what matters the most—the ability to implement these teaching interactions in real-world classrooms.

The authors conclude that since teachers are critical to student learning in K–12 classrooms, it is important that teacher education programs produce teachers who can positively impact their students.
This study demonstrates how two measures provide evidence of preservice teachers’ abilities to detect and implement effective teaching interactions.
The data presented in this study support the continued use of these measures in teacher education contexts as a way to understand the capabilities of preservice teachers.
Use of these measures in a broader range of teacher education programs could provide critical evidence of the success of teacher education programs and better inform program construction.

Cadima, J., Leal, T., & Burchinal, M. (2010). The quality of teacherstudent interactions: Associations with first graders’ academic and behavioral outcomes. Journal of School Psychology, 48, 457–482.
Curby, T. W., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., & Ponitz, C. C. (2009). Teacher-child interactions and children’s achievement trajectories across kindergarten and first grade. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(4), 912–925.
Hamre, B. K., Pianta, R. C., Downer, J. T., DeCoster, J., Mashburn, A. J., Jones, S. M., & Hamagami, A. (2013). Teaching through Interactions: Testing a developmental framework of teacher effectiveness in over 4,000 classrooms. The Elementary School Journal, 113(4), 461–487.
Jamil, F. M., Sabol, T. J., Hamre, B. K., & Pianta, R. C. (2015). Assessing teachers’ skills in detecting and identifying effective interactions in the classroom: Theory and measurement. The Elementary School Journal, 115(3), 407–432.
U.S. News. (2020). National university rankings [U.S. News and World Report].
Wiens, P. D. (2014). Using a participant pool to gather data in a teacher education program: The course of one school’s efforts. Issues in Teacher Education, 1(23), 177–206.
Wiens, P. D., Hessberg, K., LoCasale-Crouch, J., & DeCoster, J. (2013). Using a standardized video-based assessment in a university teacher education program to examine preservice teachers knowledge related to effective teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 33, 24–33. 

Updated: Jun. 06, 2021