Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 34 (August, 2013) 56-65
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
In this study, the authors investigated the impact of two instructional strategies for using classroom video in the context of university-based teacher education on pre-service teacher learning.
The authors developed two video-based modules, one using video to illustrate rules, the other using video to elicit preservice teachers’ knowledge, from which they then derived rules. The following three indicators of pre-service teacher learning derived from teacher research were used as dependent variables and assessed at the end of the three-month term:
(1) reproducing factual knowledge about principles of teaching and learning, (2) observing and evaluating video-taped classroom situations, and (3) mentally simulating instructional action by lesson planning.
Participants were 54 pre-service teachers (28 females, 28 males) in their second year of teacher education at a university in central Germany.
The findings revealed that learning environments based on the rule-example strategy fostered the reproduction of factual knowledge and its application to observe and evaluate authentic classroom sequences, whereas the example-rule strategy fostered the application of knowledge to plan a lesson and to identify challenges in a situative way.
Two of these findings are of particular interest for understanding the nature of initial teacher learning and especially the relationship between the instructional strategies used to integrate video in teacher education, on the one hand, and teacher learning, on the other.
The first relates to the relevance of acquiring basic factual and conceptual knowledge about principles of teaching and learning. The principles as addressed in this study referred to basic components of teaching and learning: the importance to clarifying learning goals and to orient learning towards goals, the relevance of teacher questions and feedback for guiding and scaffolding learning, as well as providing a positive learning climate for motivational and emotional processes of learning. Based on these principles, “rules” where derived in the sense to help preservice teachers identify those aspects and to reason about them.
Both treatment groups were able to reproduce factual knowledge about the three components at the end of the term, but the rule-example group significantly outperformed the example-rule group not only in reproducing that knowledge but also in successfully applying it to observe and evaluate video examples of classroom situations. Moreover, participants were also able to apply this knowledge to observing and evaluating authentic classroom situations, which is regarded as a relevant objective in initial teacher education.
The second key finding relates to the way of knowledge acquisition in the example-rule group. The example-rule group was assumed to acquire their knowledge based on a problem-oriented approach and to use heuristics and implicit knowledge in this process. Given this situated approach, the authors found that this group outperformed the rule-example group in applying their knowledge to plan lessons and to identify challenges in a situative way. Despite the fact that the example-rule group had difficulties in reproducing factual knowledge, they were better able to use this knowledge in planning a lesson and to be aware of possible challenges when encountering the teaching situation.
In this study, the authors systematically explored the impact of two instructional strategies for using video on three aspects of pre-service teachers’ general pedagogical knowledge: recall of factual knowledge, application to observe and evaluate authentic classroom situations, and application to plan a lesson and to identify challenges. They found the two instructional strategies to be differentially effective, making distinct contributions to initial pre-service teacher learning. The use of video in teacher education should therefore be adapted to the specific learning goals. These findings underline the importance of choosing an appropriate instructional approach when designing video-based learning environments.
This study has both theoretical and practical significance. Investigating what pre-service teachers learn in different learning environments can advance the scientific understanding of the nature of teacher learning and, in particular, of the relationship between instructional strategies and video-based learning.