Constructing Videocases to Help Novices Learn to Facilitate Discussions in Science and English: How Does Subject Matter Matter?

Aug. 15, 2010

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 16, No. 4, August 2010, 507–524.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this study, the authors explored preservice teacher’s beliefs about conducting discussions and the potential of videocase construction for supporting teacher learning by investigating the following question: ‘To what extent and how does making a videocase help preservice teachers investigate their facilitation of a subject‐specific discussion?’

More specifically, the authors investigated the following subsidiary questions:
What does each teacher notice about their enactment as they construct a videocase and reflect on their teaching?
How does the teachers’ thinking about discussions align or not with the discipline‐based views of effective discussion?
What is each teacher’s conception of a good discussion in science or English? How does the metaphorical language they use to talk about discussions guide their thinking and actions? What are similarities and differences in English and science?

Research methods
This exploratory case study (Yin, 2003) focused on five preservice teachers’ experiences constructing a videocase of their teaching in science or English.

The participants in the study were five preservice student teachers were completing a year‐long student teaching internship at a Midwestern university in the USA to earn initial teacher certification for teaching at the middle school and high school level.
Two males were science teachers and three females were English teachers. At the time of the study, the interns were in the second‐half of their internship during which they taught daily except for the times their university courses met.

Discussion and implications

This study revealed that all five interns gained insights about how they lead discussions by constructing and discussing their videocase. Studying video excerpts and articulating what they saw in them provided a context for reflecting on their own roles and student roles within their discussion. Interns also recognized the complexities of leading discussions and acknowledged areas to improve.

This study also suggests several areas that require further attention in preparing preservice teachers to lead discussions in subject matter contexts. Although interns expressed views of discussion that aligned broadly with disciplinary views in English or science, their language lacked specificity in what it means to develop varied interpretations of texts in English or consensus based on argument and evidence in science. Interns articulated more specific ideas about the conversational elements involved in discussions than about their exact instructional goals for their lesson.

The authors conclude with some suggestions for pedagogical approaches that may better support preservice teacher learning.

Yin, R.K. 2003. Case study research: Design and methods , (3rd ed.)., Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Updated: Aug. 23, 2011