Professional knowledge and task instruction specificity as influencing factors of prospective teachers' professional vision

From Section:
Professional Development
Jan. 03, 2022
January 2022

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 109

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The present study - based on video vignettes - explores at first, whether expertise-dependent performance can already be found using a knowledge test as an economic indicator of expertise.
At second, it investigates whether prospective teachers with less expertise in classroom management can be supported in the perception of relevant aspects through a minimal intervention in the form of a specific task instruction in comparison with a general task instruction that activates the necessary knowledge schemata to foster top-down processes and facilitate both the noticing and reasoning process of professional vision.
At first, the authors aim to examine whether students' professional vision is dependent on their knowledge.
Furthermore, they want to assess whether students' professional vision can be supported by task instructional intervention.

Hypotheses for the relation between knowledge and professional vision
(1a) Noticing (accuracy):
Prospective teachers with more knowledge detect more events related to classroom management accurately.
(1b) Noticing (velocity):
Prospective teachers with more knowledge detect events related to classroom management faster.
(1c) Reasoning:
Knowledge predicts the depth of analysis of professional vision among prospective teachers.
1. Description:
Those with less knowledge use relatively more descriptive statements.
2. Explanation:
Those with less knowledge use relatively fewer explanatory statements.
3. Guidance:
Those with less knowledge use relatively fewer statements regarding lesson modifications.
The authors want to examine if solely a specific, compared to more general task instruction, helps prospective teachers.
Thereby, the general task instruction prompts to observe the video carefully, while the specific task instruction is directing attention and thereby professional vision on teaching disruption.
The aim is to analyze whether, by activating particular schemata depending on the task instruction and varying the specificity of task instruction, recognizing potentially relevant events can be facilitated by directing attention to single, essential aspects of the classroom environment through higher specificity (cf. Rosenshine et al., 1996).
Hypotheses related to the impact of a task instructional intervention on professional vision
(2a) More specific task instruction leads to a greater accurate professional perception of (potential) teaching disorders compared to general task instruction.
(2b) More specific task instruction leads to a faster professional perception of (potential) teaching disorders than general task.
(2c) More specific task instruction leads to a more in-depth analysis of (potential) teaching disruptions compared to general task instruction.
The proportional share of descriptive statements, explanatory statements, and those statements with integrated modification suggestions should be significantly higher in specific task instruction than in general task instruction.


Prospective teachers (N= 85) with a maximum of 40 h of teaching experience were recruited from German universities via email lists and social networks responsible for educational institutions. They study at 13 different universities from nine federal states and have an average teaching experience (e.g., through internships) of 23.12 h (SD = 52.28).

The study consisted of two parts, presented online.
The participants processed the second part at mean 1.24 days after the first.
In the first part, the participants had to fill in questionnaires on demographic data and pedagogical-psychological knowledge.
The second part consisted of seven different video vignettes of varying classroom situations to assess professional vision.
The participants were randomly assigned to one of six video sequences, which differed in the order of the videos presented.
At first, the participants identified relevant elements in each video.
Thereafter, the participants answered open questions to assess the reasoning process.
For each recognized event, the participants were asked what they noticed exactly, why they noticed it, and to what extent the event can be classified as relevant for teaching.
After each video, participants filled out an adapted version of the Cognitive Load Questionnaire by Klepsch et al. (2017) and questions about the videos' quality and authenticity.

Results and discussion
This study addressed whether expertise differences can already be found as a function of prospective teachers' knowledge of classroom management and whether task instructional support can enhance prospective teachers' perception processes of relevant events.

Relation between knowledge and professional vision
The results suggest that knowledge is a significant predictor of accuracy and the velocity of professional vision among prospective teachers, as more knowledge contributes to greater accurate professional vision and earlier recognition of (potential) teaching disruptions.
Hence, the results of Hypotheses 1a and 1b support previous research of professional vision (cf. Gegenfurtner et al., 2020), which reveals that there seem to be differences in the perception of relevant events depending on expertise.
Through increased knowledge, potential teaching disruptions can be identified better and more quickly.
These results could even be replicated in a sample consisting only of students, which is generally considered homogeneous.
However, the results also show that students' knowledge cannot significantly predict the depth of analysis for the proportion of descriptive, explanatory, or guiding statements.
Those with little knowledge do not have a substantially higher proportion of descriptive or explanatory statements than those with more knowledge.
Besides, those with more knowledge do not have a considerably higher proportion of guiding statements than those with limited knowledge.
These results suggest that students describe and discuss events similarly regardless of their knowledge level.
Competence and knowledge acquisition depend not only on the situation or specifications but also on the respective use (Kunina-Habenicht et al., 2013).

Effects of specific task instruction on professional vision
Results suggest that more detailed task instruction does not lead to a more accurate professional perception of (potential) teaching disorders compared with general task instruction. However, a significant effect by video sequence emerges, suggesting that - despite the random assignment of subjects to video sequence - there may have been differences in performance.
Besides, more specific task instruction does not lead to a faster professional perception of (potential) teaching disorders compared to general instruction.
Although descriptive statistics show that consistent with the hypothesis, specific task instruction leads to faster perception.
This non-significant effect may be due to the small sample and/or the variable's relatively large variance.
Compared to general task instruction, more specific task instruction does not lead to a more in-depth analysis of (potential) disturbances nor descriptive, explanatory, or guiding statements.
The task instruction effect for the proportion of guiding statements becomes significant but conversely to the hypothesis.
In summary, the authors found that expertise operationalized by an economic knowledge test (performance-based measure) is a relevant factor for (prospective) teachers' professional vision.
The more pedagogical-psychological knowledge a prospective teacher can provide, the more effective they are regarding noticing relevant events in the classroom, which can be recognized more accurately and faster.
The results reveal - despite the small effect sizes - that it is crucial to reinforce the transfer of knowledge on relevant aspects of classroom management in university, as this facilitates the initial steps of prospective teachers in the process of teaching-learning skills, which is often perceived as particularly challenging.
Pedagogical knowledge seems to have less effect on verbalizing relevant events and on the depth of analyzing (reasoning).
However, due to the fact that reasoning processes may be based more on implicit or tacit knowledge, this should be further explored in future research.
The given task instructional intervention “specific task instruction” does not affect professional vision for prospective teachers.
Research with process-based methods is necessary to get a more comprehensive insight into (prospective) teachers noticing and the effects of expertise and task instructional support.

Gegenfurtner, A., Lewalter, D., Lehtinen, E., Schmidt, M., & Gruber, H. (2020). Teacher expertise and professional vision: Examining knowledge-based reasoning of pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, and school principals. Front. Educ., 5, 59.
Klepsch, M., Schmitz, F., & Seufert, T. (2017). Development and validation of two instruments measuring intrinsic, extraneous, and germane cognitive load. Frontiers in Psychology, 8.
Kunina-Habenicht, O., Schulze-Stocker, F., Kunter, M., Baumert, J., Leutner, D., Forster, D., Lohse-Bossenz, H., & Terhart, E. (2013). Die Bedeutung der Lernge- € legenheuten im Lehramtsstudium und deren individuelle Nutzung für den Aufbau des bildungswissenschaftlichen Wissens [The importance of learning opportunities in the teacher education program and their individual use in building knowledge of educational science]. Zeitschrift für Padagogik, 59, 1-23.
Rosenshine, B., Meister, C., & Chapman, S. (1996). Teaching students to generate questions: A review of the intervention studies. Review of Educational Research, 66(2) 

Updated: May. 08, 2022
Classroom management | Knowledge | Teaching as a profession | Teacher candidates