Source: The New Educator, 17:2, 141-156
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study investigates the benefits of using video case analysis activities in a teacher education preparation program, including peer group reflections and discussions, while focusing particularly on the teacher candidates’ awareness of effective instructional strategies related to questioning and the nature of the teacher candidates’ process of creating and revising questions.
Context of the study
This study is situated in a large university in the southeastern portion of the United States.
The teacher education preparation program at this university requires undergraduate teacher candidates to complete a minor in education if they seek a license to teach K-12 art, music, or physical education or 7–12 agriculture, English, history, math, or science.
Teacher candidates enroll in a clinical-based course called “Residency I” prior to student teaching, which is termed Residency II.
As a part of the Residency I requirements, candidates visit local public schools one to two days a week (hours depend on requirements for their major area of study).
Each Residency I teacher candidate is assigned a mentor teacher in a public school, who they observe and with whom they collaborate in order to plan and teach lesson(s).
Candidates also observe teachers of various content areas in their school placement.
Residency I facilitators typically lead discussions prompting candidates to reflect on observations conducted in the local schools, and before the semester of this study, facilitators had only encouraged candidates to use Accomplished Teaching, Learning and Schools (ATLAS) online resources for additional opportunities to observe accomplished teachers in practice.
These ATLAS resources include videos of K-12 classroom instruction, written commentaries, teacher notes, and instructional materials all provided by National Board Certified Teachers.
The ATLAS video clips and commentaries have been tagged with evidence linked to edTPA rubrics, Common Core State Standards, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards.
During the semester of this study, the researcher and a graduate student used ATLAS video materials to create video case analysis activities in an effort to provide teacher candidates with opportunities to observe and reflect on teaching in a shared context.
The researcher sought to answer the following research questions:
(1) In what ways do video case analysis activities including written commentaries, guided reflections, and peer group discussions serve as a means for teacher candidates to increase their awareness of effective instructional strategies related to questioning?
(2) What is the nature of the teacher candidates’ process of creating and revising questions when they participate in video case analysis activities?
All teacher candidates enrolled in Residency I, as a requirement for the minor in education (K-12 art, music, and physical education and 7–12 agriculture, English, history, math, and science), completed video case analysis activities during three separate sessions as part of required, regularly scheduled weekly Residency I seminars.
Each video case analysis session lasted approximately one hour.
The third session, Analyzing Effective Questioning Techniques, was the focus session for this research study.
Prior to this session, candidates practiced writing questions as part of the lesson planning process and in preparation for teaching a learning segment of three to five lesson plans in local, public schools (with the approval of their mentor teachers).
At the beginning of the seminar for this focus session, candidates read over a summary of the lesson to be viewed and collaborated with their peers to write three questions that they felt would promote student discussion and higher-level thinking for the learning goals/lesson objectives.
Then, candidates discussed the questions and types of student responses that these questions might elicit.
While watching the video, candidates paused the video to write down the questions asked by the observed teacher.
After viewing the student responses, candidates categorized each question by using a reflection document as a guide:
a) received thoughtful, insightful, critical responses from students;
b) received convergent, one-word responses;
c) further probed student understanding (requested students to justify or extend an original response);
d) helped to identify and respond to student misconceptions;
e) intentionally guided the discussion and kept students on track to reach the lesson objective- (s);
f) led to student-to-student discussion; and g) promoted student use of academic language, new vocabulary, syntax, and discourse.
After spending some time with this exercise, candidates reconsidered their original questions developed at the beginning of the session, and if necessary, revised or added to the questions to make them more effective.
Finally, they finished completing the reflection questions for the Analyzing Effective Questioning Techniques session.
The researcher invited all teacher candidates who were enrolled in Residency I during the fall semester to participate in the study.
The research participants who voluntarily signed consent forms agreeing to participate included 26 undergraduate teacher candidates minoring in education and seeking a license to teach grades K-12 (two art, five music, and four physical education) and 7–12 (three agriculture, two English, two history, three math, and five science).
Data were collected from the third video case analysis session, Analyzing Effective Questioning Techniques.
The researcher audio-recorded the peer group discussions as the participants completed the video case analysis activities during a regularly scheduled Residency I seminar during the fall semester.
Researchers also collected written open-ended reflection questions at the end of the third session.
After completing all three video case analysis activities, the researcher requested interviews with the participants, and four teacher candidates volunteered to individually participate in audio-recorded semi-structured interviews with the researcher.
The researcher used the information from the written reflection questions and recorded group discussions to inform the follow-up interviews with the teacher candidates.
The researcher used a qualitative research design to analyze data collected through written open-ended reflection questions, audio-recordings of peer group discussions, and audio-recordings of semi-structured interviews.
The audio-recordings of the small group discussions and semi-structured interviews were transcribed.
The researcher triangulated the qualitative data through thematic analysis (Guest, MacQueen, & Namey, 2012) and looked for repetition across the data sources.
Results and discussion
Consistent with previous research, candidates were able to notice classroom environment features and teacher-student interactions during lessons (Star & Strickland, 2008).
The candidates analyzed student thinking through the observation of teacher questioning strategies and student responses and identified effective instructional approaches and teaching practices that they sought to imitate in their future classrooms.
Consistent with the findings of Cuthrell et al. (2016), candidates used videos to reflect on accomplished teachers’ instructional strategies which, in turn, led them to reflect on their own teaching practices.
Similar to the participants in Bergman’s studies (2015), teacher candidates in this study were able to identify types of questions that teachers used in the videos, and they noticed the importance of giving students wait time after asking questions (Bergman, 2015).
The ability to identify high-quality open-ended questions helps prepare candidates to develop their own effective questioning techniques (Weiland et al., 2014).
Through discussion, reflection questions, and interviews, candidates expressed the need to use different questioning techniques and to improve instructional strategies used in the past.
The peer and large group discussions served as models of how candidates should facilitate discussions in the classroom.
The organization of groups by content area allowed for more content relevant discussions when necessary.
While completing the video case analysis reflection questions, candidates questioned and sought reassurance from their peers.
Facilitators guided the discussions with reflection questions that focused on the accomplished teachers’ questioning techniques; and as indicated by Baecher et al. (2018), facilitators in this study also needed to frequently monitor and guide candidates during video discussions.
Sometimes, the peer group discussions drifted away from the purpose of the activities, and facilitators redirected the candidates to the video and reflection questions.
By the third set of video case analysis activities, candidates were more proficient in navigating the ATLAS videos and resources and using the edTPA rubric tags to understand how the lessons connected to the edTPA. Facilitators must utilize videos, written commentaries, guided reflection questions, and small group discussions several times for the process to run more smoothly.
Consistent with previous research, teacher candidates’ competence in noticing teachers use questioning techniques played a role in the quality of questions they were able to develop (Walkoe & Levin, 2018; Weiland et al., 2014); this was demonstrated by 19 out of 26 candidates refining their original, self-created questions after observing accomplished teachers in the videos using effective questioning strategies.
Through the revision process with their peers, some candidates created questions that they felt provoked more student discussion and extended discussions with additional questions. Candidates expressed the need to personalize the content of their questions to direct students to the lesson topic.
Baecher, L., Kung, S., Ward, S. L., & Kern, K. (2018). Facilitating video analysis for teacher development: A systematic review of the research. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 26(2), 185–216.
Bergman, D. (2015). Comparing the effects of classroom audio-recording and video-recording on preservice teachers’ reflection of practice. Teacher Educator, 50(2), 127–144.
Cuthrell, K., Steadman, S. C., Stapleton, J. S., & Hodge, E. (2016). Developing expertise: Using video to hone teacher candidates’ classroom observation skills. The New Educator, 12(1), 5–27.
Guest, G., MacQueen, K. M., & Namey, E. E. (2012). Applied thematic analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Star, J. R., & Strickland, S. K. (2008). Learning to observe: Using video to improve preservice mathematics teachers’ ability to notice. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 11(2), 107–125
Walkoe, J., & Levin, D. M. (2018). Using technology in representing practice to support preservice teachers’ quality questioning: The roles of noticing in improving practice. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 26(1), 127–147
Weiland, I. S., Hudson, R., & Amador, J. (2014). Preservice formative assessment interviews: The development of competent questioning. International Journal of Science & Mathematics Education, 12(2), 329–352