Looking in the Heads of Experienced Teachers – Do they use the Wide Range of Principles of Effective Teaching when Analysing Lessons?
Looking in the Heads of Experienced Teachers - Do they use the Wide Range of Principles of Effective Teaching when Analysing Lessons?
Wilfried Pl?ger 0
0 University of Cologne
Looking in the Heads of Experienced Teachers ?
Do They Use the Wide Range of Principles of Effective Teaching when
University of Cologne, Germany
University of Vechta, Germany
University of Paderborn, Germany
Abstract: This study aimed to examine whether principles of effective
teaching constitute essential criteria for a systematic and successful
analysis of lessons. After watching a video of a complete lesson, the
participants (each of nine experienced and pre-service teachers) were
asked to analyse this lesson in terms of effectiveness for pupils?
learning in the form of an open dialogue. Their comments were
analysed by means of a qualitative content analysis and revealed that
the experienced teachers independently used the wide range of
principles of effective teaching and differed significantly from the
preservice teachers in this regard. Particularly striking were the large
differences in the activation of knowledge about these five principles:
goal orientation, relating cognitive activities to prior knowledge,
classroom climate/learning atmosphere, clarity, and using appropriate
examples. These differences point to specific development tasks, in
order to improve the analytical skills of student teachers within teacher
In order to facilitate the learning of students and to maximize their achievements, the core
activities of teachers (planning, implementing and analysing lessons) must be oriented towards
principles of effective teaching (e.g., goal orientation, feedback, cognitive activation etc.), which
are positively connected to students? outcomes. Literature reports and meta-studies, in which
several hundred of individual studies have been combined, support the empirical evidence for the
effectiveness of these principles
(e.g., Brophy, 2000; Hattie, 2009; Muijs et al., 2014)
it is to be important that teachers should have sufficient knowledge on principles of effective
teaching. This applies not only to planning and implementing a lesson, but also for its subsequent
(Hiebert, Morris, Berk, & Jansen, 2007)
, because these principles constitute important
criteria for a systematic analysis in order to identify the factors that have determined the
effectiveness of the pedagogical interactions.
The significance of some of these principles for an appropriate analysis of lessons has
already been verified in various studies
(e.g., Jamil, Sabol, Hamre, & Pianta, 2015; Krull, Oras, &
Pikksaar, 2010; Wiens, Hessberg, Lo-Casale-Crouch, & DeCoster, 2013)
, in which videos were
used as stimulus and the participants were asked to assess the observed teaching behaviour. The
clips were of short duration (often only 3?5 min.) and selected in such a way that they represented
a limited number of principles. This procedure has two crucial advantages: Short videos show
a small cutout of the whole teaching process and, therefore, limit the observers? cognitive load.
Additionally, predetermined observation instructions channel the attention to few selected
However, videos that are of short duration and only focused on a few principles have the
disadvantage that they do not represent the complexity of the whole teaching process. Therefore,
the participants will not be given sufficient opportunity to show that they know the wide range of
these principles and can apply them to concrete teaching scenarios. This disadvantage can be
compensated, if videos of a complete lesson are chosen and if the participants have the
opportunity to independently activate their knowledge on principles of effective teaching in the
form of an open dialogue.
Until now there are no studies following this option (complete videotaped lesson as
stimulus combined with the analysis in the form of an open dialogue regarding the wide range of
principles of effective teaching). The study reported here addresses this desideratum. The
participants were shown a video of a complete lesson on optics in which the Snell?s law of
refraction was being studied. In a subsequent interview they were asked to analyse this lesson in
terms of effectiveness for learning. This special stimulus and the open dialogue encouraged the
participants to give detailed statements, which were analysed by means of a qualitative content
In order to examine whether principles of effective teaching constitute essential criteria for
a systematic and successful analysis of lessons, it seems suitable to compare well-known groups
(Cronbach & Mehl, 1955)
that are expected to differ in their analytical performances. Therefore,
our sampling comprised two groups, experienced teachers and pre-service teachers as novices.
The analysis of lessons is a challenge for pre-service teachers, because they have great difficulties
to distinguish between important and unimportant information
. Additionally, they
perceive lessons as a chronological but disconnected sequence of events
(Star & Strickland,
. As a result, they cannot recognize and assess the functions of lesson elements for the
whole teaching process. In contrast, experienced teachers consider elements of lessons not in
isolation, but think systematically about their interrelations
(Rosaen, Carlisle, Mihocko,
Melnick, & Johnson, 2013)
. They identify single events as meaningful sub-activities within a
. Therefore, they are able to link various single situations and actions
to broader didactic units and to evaluate the effectiveness of such units against the background of
the whole teaching process.
Such differences in analytical performances might be traced back to differences in the
content and extent of knowledge regarding the principles of effective teaching, because these
principles allow to recognise what is important or unimportant, why single actions have an impact
on others, or which alternative actions would have been more effective. Against the background
of this assumption, the study at hand was guided by two research questions. (1) Do the
experienced teachers independently use the wide range of principles of effective teaching? (2) Do
the experienced teachers differ significantly from the pre-service teachers in this regard?
Principles of Effective Teaching as Criteria for Assessing Teaching Quality and as a Tool for
In order to examine whether teachers use the wide range of principles of effective teaching
when analysing lessons, one needs a language to capture these principles. Such principles have
been discussed in educational research for more than three decades. In this section, we give an
overview of some influential conceptualizations used in video studies for identifying and
promoting teachers? observational skills. Despite the minor or major differences between these
conceptualizations, the overview will show that there is a certain degree of conformity regarding
principles of teaching linked to positive students outcomes. Based on this consensus, we
established a category system (s. Table 1). The categories contained therein are used to determine
whether the statements of the interviewed participants can be seen as indicators for an
independent activation of their knowledge on principles of effective teaching.
First, we refer to the prominent work of
. He developed a theory of teacher
actions and characteristics, which was centered on the idea of supporting students? learning
processes. As criteria for the assessment of the quality of instruction, Gagn? proposed nine
features of teaching behaviour: gaining attention, informing learners of the learning objectives,
stimulating recall of prior learning, presenting material for learning, providing learning guidance,
eliciting performance, providing feedback, assessing performance, and enhancing retention and
The thorough review of process-product research by
Brophy and Good (1986)
very influential. They emphasized a set of 12 principles describing generic patterns of successful
teaching behaviour (supportive classroom climate, opportunity to learn and time on task,
curricular alignment, establishing learning orientations, coherent content, thoughtful discourse,
practice and application activities, scaffolding students? task engagement, strategy teaching,
co-operative learning, goal-oriented assessment, and achievement expectations).
The conceptualizations of effective teaching behaviour developed by Gagn? and Brophy
and Good serve until today as theoretical frameworks for the implementation of video studies. For
Krull et al. (2010)
conducted a study for promoting pre-service teachers? lesson analysis
and observational skills. Contrary to the control group, the experimental group was provided with
special training on Gagn??s nine principles. The effects of this training (measured by pre- and
post-test) showed that the experimental group progressed more than the control group, especially
regarding the two principles providing learning guidance and feedback.
More recent conceptualizations of teaching quality rely on these former approaches, but
set the focus less on elements of concrete teaching behaviour rather than on providing
opportunities to foster pupils? meaningful (versus rote) learning. For example,
developed the Teaching for Robust Understanding (TRU) Framework, which supports teachers
and coaches in planning, conducting and reflecting on classroom observations. TRU comprises
five dimensions: (1) content (the extent to which central disciplinary ideas are present in
instruction), (2) cognitive demand (the extent to which classroom activities initiate and maintain
an environment of intellectual challenge), (3) equitable access to content (the extent to which
a teacher supports all students taking in consideration their diverse abilities), (4) agency,
ownership, and identity (the extent to which students are the source of ideas and discussions),
(5) and uses of assessments (the extent to which feedback and assessments ensure pupil?s current
state of understanding).
Based on these dimensions, Schoenfeld and co-workers developed a rubric for classroom
observations. ?Using the rubric involves parsing classroom activities into a sequence of episodes
of no more than 5 minutes each in duration, assigning scores to each episode using the relevant
(Schoenfeld, 2014, p. 406)
The rubric was primarily developed as a research tool in
order to measure and validate the dimensions of ?powerful classrooms?. This tool is also used to
facilitate the professional development of teachers by engaging them in productive activities and
discussions regarding the five dimensions. For this purpose, observation guides were developed
and are available in mathematics-specific and domain-general versions.
While the focus in TRU is on observing how teachers foster students? meaningful learning,
the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) is a framework for the observation of
effective teacher-child interactions
(Pianta & Hamre, 2009)
. CLASS comprises three domains
(subdivided in dimensions): (1) emotional support (positive/negative climate, teacher sensitivity,
regard for student perspectives), (2) classroom organization (behaviour management,
productivity, instructional learning formats, and (3) instructional support (concept development,
quality of feedback, language modelling, literacy focus).
A concrete application of CLASS is the Video Assessment of Interaction and Learning
(VAIL) aimed at assessing teachers? skills in detecting and identifying effective interactions in the
(Jamil et al., 2015)
. VAIL targets three components of the third dimension
?instructional support?; instructional learning formats (providing interesting materials,
instructional clarity, describing objectives), quality of feedback (promoting development of
metacognitive skills, asking students to explain their thinking), and language and literacy
interactions (engaging in frequent conversations, asking open-ended questions, using advanced
VAIL provides a sound psychometrical measure of teachers? observation skills. In order to
identify such skills, teachers were shown two short videos and had to respond to two prompts
asking them to identify strategies the teacher in the video is using for facilitating effective
instructional interaction. For example, a prompt regarding the feature feedback was: ?Name up to
five specific, observed behaviors that the teacher uses to effectively provide feedback and extend
students? learning, skills, and persistence?. (Jamil et al., 2015, p. 415)
Such prompts were also used in the study of
Wiens et al. (2013)
. They used VAIL as
video-based assessment in a university teacher education program to examine pre-service
teachers? knowledge related to effective teaching. The participants watched three videos (2?
3 min.) which ?each focused on one dimension of the CLASS framework: quality of feedback,
instructional learning formats, and regard for student perspectives?. (p. 27) The results showed
that the instrument provided standardized measures and a basis for evaluating respective
components in pre-service teacher education programs aiming at improving observational skills.
The Observer Research Tool developed by
St?rmer and Seidel (2017)
is a further example
of a standardized instrument for measuring prospective teachers? ability to notice and interpret
classroom events relevant for students? learning. Based on a meta-analysis
(Seidel & Shavelson,
, St?rmer and Seidel focused on three generic teaching and learning (TL) components (goal
clarity, teacher support, and learning climate) as principles of effective teaching. In order to test
the tool, 12 videos were selected (each of 2?4 min.) covering the three TL components and five
different subjects. As a result the instrument has been proven to measure prospective teachers
ability to analyse the videotaped scenarios in a reliable and valid way. Additionally, St?rmer and
Seidel could show in a pre- and post-test design that the acquisition of knowledge on the three
Short definition of this principle
(1) opportunity to The time a teacher actively engages
learn and time on students in learning during lesson
(2) goal orientation Throughout the teaching process
teachers must concentrate on the
intended goals so that the students
can take on these intentions as the
goals of their own learning
(3) structuring To avoid cognitive overload teachers
have to structure the entire learning
process, i.e. to arrange it into several
sub-processes or phases.
(4) clarity Teachers have to communicate in a
way that is characterised by precise
language, whole but not too
complicated sentences and with an
appropriate level of information.
(5) cognitive The teacher must create a learning
activation/ environment to foster the cognitive
motivation activities students need to build their
(6) relating In addition to prior knowledge, new
cognitive information always needs to be
activities to absorbed, processed and integrated
prior knowledge with the existing prior knowledge in
an appropriate way.
(7) feedback/ In order to establish whether and to
evaluation/ what extent the intended goals have
assessment already been achieved, teachers and
pupils need feedback in the form of
(8) adapting/ Teachers have to take into account
differentiating the individual abilities and
sociocultural backgrounds of
students by adopting appropriate
(9) application/ Teachers have to provide
transfer opportunities in which the newly
acquired cognitive structures can be
applied as a mental tool that enables
future situations to be understood.
(10) classroom Teachers should show respect
climate/ towards children and transmit their
learning positive expectations to their
Seidel & Shavelson, 2007
Muijs et al., 2014)
Day, & Regan, 2011
Scheerens & Bosker, 1997
Baumert & Kunter, 2013
Seidel & Shavelson, 2007
Ausubel et al., 1980;
Haertel, & Walberg, 1993
Walberg, Welch, & Hattie,
; Hattie, 2009
Day, & Regan, 2011
Walberg & Paik, 2000
Waxman, Wang, &
Chi & VanLehn, 2012
Oppezzo, & Chin, 2011
Seidel & Shavelson, 2007;
Muijs & Reynolds, 2011
principles of teaching in university seminars led to positive changes in pre-service teachers?
Note: 1 = Gagn?, 1985; 2 = Brophy & Good, 1986; 3 = Schoenfeld, 2013 [TRU]); 4 = Hamre et al., 2012 [CLASS]; 5 =
Jamil et al., 2015 [VAIL]; 6 = St?rmer & Seidel, 2017 [Observer]
In view of our research questions and regarding the necessity to determine a wide range of
principles of effective teaching as tool for lesson analysis, we summarize the overview of the
conceptualizations reported and the video studies based on them as follows. The
conceptualizations represent a great variety in terms of methodology and content, each of which is
aligned to a central perspective (e.g., teaching behaviour in Gagn??s approach, fostering
meaningful learning in TRU, effective teacher-child interactions in CLASS). In order to
concretize the chosen perspective, several dimensions and subdimensions were determined and
operationalized by specific indicators.
Notwithstanding this variety (especially in the operationalization of the subdimensions),
one can identify a certain degree of conformity: Taken together, all six approaches cover a wide
range of principles of effective teaching as shown in Table 1: (1) opportunity to learn and time on
task; (2) goal orientation; (3) structuring; (4) clarity; (5) cognitive activation/motivation;
(6) relating cognitive activities to prior knowledge; (7) feedback/evaluation/assessment;
(8) adapting/differentiating instruction; (9) application/transfer; (10) classroom climate/learning
atmosphere. However, the table also shows that each of the unique approach focuses on a limited
number of these ten principles and, therefore, does not include the others. Additionally, we
provide corresponding references to relevant meta-analyses and literature reports in the last table
column, which consistently support the empirical evidence and theoretical plausibility of these
The sampling comprised nine experienced and nine pre-service teachers who would be or
were already teaching in gymnasium schools (academic track). In Germany there are three
different types of secondary schools: Gymnasium, Realschule and Hauptschule. Students at
Gymnasium graduate after grade 12 with the Abitur, the highest school-leaving certificate, which
is also required to enter the university-based teacher education. Students at Realschule and
Hauptschule graduate after grade 10 and then they usually undergo a 3-year apprenticeship
program combined with instruction in a part-time vocational school. Teachers at gymnasium
schools are specialised in two subjects that can be combined differently.
The experienced teachers were required to meet two criteria: extensive teaching
experience in gymnasium schools (at least 15 years), and qualification recognized by the school
administration through promotion to teacher training personnel. These persons work in special
institutions, called teacher-training seminars, in which future teachers undergo an internship as
trainee teachers over a period of 18 months. The tasks of teacher training personnel include the
analysis of show case lessons of future teachers and the advice on how they could optimize the
effectiveness of their teaching. Contact with these people was made through the institutions at
which they worked. Ultimately, nine experienced teachers agreed (three female, six male) to
voluntarily take part in an interview. Three of them were teaching physics and three other science
subjects (chemistry or biology). The further three persons were teaching neither physics nor other
In addition to these experienced teachers, the sample included a similar-sized group of
preservice teachers. We found nine teacher candidates who were studying in their fourth semester at
our own university and participated voluntarily. The selection of these nine candidates (five
female, four male) was made in analogy with the distribution of the subjects of the experienced
teachers (physics, another science subject, none of these subjects). Their teaching experience
comprised a maximum of 15 hours.
Videotaped Lesson as Stimulus for Conducting Interviews
The stimulus used to conduct interviews with the participants was a recording that showed
a complete physics lesson (45 min.) on optics in which the Snell?s law of refraction was being
studied. The overarching aim of this physics lesson was to rediscover the law of refraction. For
this purpose, the teacher showed phenomena of refraction (via pictures) in the introduction phase
and requested the pupils to construct an experiment in order to discover the law of refraction.
Later, the experiment was performed and the obtained data were analysed. After the Snell?s law
had been formulated, the pupils performed an example calculation (calculating the refraction
index from given angles). In the final phase of the lesson the teacher explained the function of a
Fresnel lens as an application of the law of refraction.
In terms of form, this lesson comprised several crucial elements of teaching. But the actual
implementation of the lesson showed a number of serious shortcomings. First of all, the lesson
was entirely overloaded by too many subgoals that cannot be reached in the given amount of time
(45 min.). Thus, the discourse and the activities ran hastily. Secondly, the teachers? behaviour
corresponded only to a limited extent to: engaging students in investigations, facilitating
classroom discourse, eliciting student thinking, providing feedback, constructing models or
connecting new concepts to application. Regarding the poor implementation of such core teaching
practices, we assumed that the participants had enough opportunities to use the wide range of
principles of effective teaching (s. Table 1).
In the subsequent interview, subjects were asked to comment on the lesson they had
observed. In order to encourage the comments to be as open as possible, the definition of
conversation?s structure in terms of both time and content was kept to a minimum. After the video
was shown, the interview was initiated with an open question (e.g., ?What did you observe in this
section of the lesson??). If the conversation came to a halt, further encouragement for discussion
was given (e.g., ?How could the teacher?s behaviour that you just described affect the pupils??).
At the end of the interview the participants were asked to once again summarise what they
believed the most important aspects of the lesson observed were.
All 18 interviews were recorded, fully transcribed, and then analysed using the qualitative
content analysis method
. This method allowed extensive text material to be
reduced down to essential structures and statements. A first trial run-through made it clear that the
ten characteristics of effective teacher behaviour described above (see Table 1) could be used as
meaningful categories for the analysis of the transcripts.
The first and ninth categories referred to in Table 1 (time on task; application/transfer)
were hardly mentioned, so we decided these two categories should not be used. However, in the
first trial run-through, several statements were identified that could not be coded within the
remaining eight categories. These statements were related on the one hand to the conciseness of
examples and illustrations selected by the teacher to demonstrate the refraction of light and on the
other hand to the need to use concrete contexts from the pupils? known environment as a starting
point for learning processes and then to reach general findings inductively.
This led us to take two further categories into account: (a) using appropriate examples and
(b) situated and inductive learning. These two characteristics were not taken into account in the
prominent studies as in the meta studies reported above, but in the literature evidence can be
found for the effectiveness of learning through using suitable examples
(see Durkin &
RittleJohnson, 2012; Renkl, Atkinson, Maier, & Stanley, 2002)
and through using situated and
inductive learning (Lave & Wenger, 1991).
Overall, therefore, it was shown that these two categories together with the other eight
tested categories (s. Table 1) were suitable for answering our research questions. Each category
was precisely defined, as well as being made concrete by using a prototypical text passage
(anchor example). Such anchor examples show analogously how a text passage should be
formulated for it to be included in the appropriate category.
These definitions and anchor examples together formed a category system and specified
the guidelines for performing the content analysis. The performance of the content analysis, which
was carried out in part by the first author of this article and two students, required the proper and
precise handling of the individual categories. Therefore, it was necessary to prepare the two
students for this task with an intensive training course. After these two people had acquired
sufficient certainty in the use of the ten categories, the actual coding process began. Over a certain
period, each of the three people coded all 18 interviews separately. In the meantime, meetings
were held in order to determine where there were similarities or differences in the codings.
Ultimately, only the statements on which the three coders reached a consensus were accepted.
The category system used was not only an important prerequisite for the process of coding
itself, but also for the assessment of the stability and the reproducibility of the codings, which
needed to show an acceptable level of inter-coder reliability and intra-coder reliability. After the
coding process had finished two other people were involved in the process in order to determine
the inter-coder reliability. For this process to be carried out using the time as efficiently as
possible, these people did not code all the interviews, instead taking on just a selection of the text
passages. This selection covered 10% of the codings that had previously been identified per
consensus that was reached between the original three people. In accordance with
a kappa of between 0.60 and 0.75 was set as a sufficient level for the inter-coder
reliability. Five weeks later these two people once again coded the text passages that they alone
had worked on to see if they reproduced the same codings as the first time. This intra-coder
reliability was also allocated a Cohen?s kappa of between 0.60 and 0.75.
In addition to this qualitative content analysis, we used the Mann-Whitney test (because of
the small sample and the fact that the data were not normally distributed) to check whether the
experienced and pre-service teachers differed significantly in their analytical performance.
There were high values for the repeatability and stability of the codings. Indeed, the
intercoder reliability achieved a kappa of 0.73 and the intra-coder reliability was 0.77.
Table 2 shows the number of codings for each category calculated separately for the
experienced and pre-service teachers. Overall, 277 text passages representing the respondents?
independent statements were coded, 180 for the experienced and 97 for the pre-service teachers.
This high number of coded text passages provided us with a positive response to our first research
question: The experienced teachers independently activate the wide range of principles of
effective teaching when analysing the lesson. Additionally, it became clear that the pre-service
teachers are ?on their way?, because they also used these principles of effective teaching, albeit
relating cognitive activities to prior
situated and inductive learning
using appropriate examples
(number of codings)
There were approximately twice as many codings for the experienced teachers as there
were for the pre-service teachers. These differences proved to be significant (research question 2)
in the Mann-Whitney test (CK: U = 12.5, z = ?2.48, p = .011). As proposed by
Fritz, Morris and
), the effect size r of the Mann-Whitney test can be calculated from the z-values in
relation to the size of the sample (N = 18) by the formula: r = z/sqrt[N], whereby r is comparable
with the Pearson?s correlation coefficient. The calculated effect size was r = 0.58. The differences
between the experienced and pre-service teachers were therefore also of practical importance,
because according to
, p. 157) values of r ? 0.5 represent a large effect.
In order to make it clear what sort of statements were behind the bare figures given in
Table 2, we provide here a selection of concrete statements from various interviews regarding
those five principles the experienced and pre-service teachers differed considerably.
E: ?He seemed to me to be very vague in his whole approach to teaching. Personally, I had the
impression that the teacher himself did not have a structured approach in his head with which to
direct the pupils where he wanted them to go. He did actually verbalise a goal, but the
transparency of how the goal would be reached was not easily distinguishable for me.?
N: ?It was not clear what he is driving at ? It is difficult to invent an experimental setup and to
find out the law of refraction if one does not know at all that the angles of incidence and refraction
of the rays and their connections are important. He could have said that. Then the students would
have been able to come up with it, but in this way it remained entirely unclear.?
E: ?This also relates to his conceptual impreciseness, which leads me to believe that he himself
does not have such profound expertise. Because someone who has really internalised that would
be much clearer and more precise with the terminology, and would also call for clarity on the part
of the pupils.?
N: ?He always jumps from one foreign word to another, since in one sentence, in which he
introduces a foreign word, he uses three new ones. I would have been entirely confused and
would not know exactly what he meant.?
Relating Cognitive Activities to Prior Knowledge
E: ?This creates frustration among the students, such that they have the feeling: we do not know
enough, we have forgotten a lot. And they are ashamed. This creates strange situations which
should be avoided at the outset by taking professional action, in the process creating clarity. And
that would be easy to arrange: Once again we need prior knowledge about optical phenomena,
here about refraction. Now you have three minutes as small groups, with your neighbours to find
out about this, and then we will present the prior knowledge again in the full group. This creates a
sound basis for further work. And the students know: We need prior knowledge and the teacher
works with what is there. He makes it unnecessarily difficult here.?
N: ?You have to be very careful with pupil?s misconceptions, ? you cannot simply ignore them
and then move on with what you deem to be correct, rather you must actually include these in the
lesson and in advance think about what ideas might already exist, and then use them.?
Classroom Climate/Learning Atmosphere
E: ?If I think again about the teacher-pupil interaction. I think that they do not have the
impression that they, as pupils, are really taken seriously with their level of knowledge. Everyday
knowledge will be ridiculed. We cannot actually use it, for science is an entirely different level.
This means: As a man he is very kind, but the pupils certainly do not feel competent, as far as the
subject is concerned.?
N: ?So, what bothered me the most, I would like to emphasize once again. I felt that the teacher
was making fun of the students? lack of knowledge. I was frightened by this. As a student, I would
have participated once, but then no longer. This is not very encouraging.?
Using Appropriate Examples
E: ?I feel that he uses too many examples, without discussing the particular example again and
clarifying the phenomenon. The pupils are easily overburdened because they see many
phenomena, but they are not worked on in a structured way.?
N: ?I think that this example is not comprehensible for the pupils. What has this got to do with
light refraction? Even though one can see, that there is something distorted, it is not yet clear what
this has to do with light refraction ? A layperson who does not know anything about this
concept, has no idea what to do with it.?
Summary and Discussion
In comparison to the above reported video studies, using videos of short duration and
focussing only on a few principles of effective teaching, the participants in our study had the
opportunity to analyse a complete lesson in form of an open dialogue without predetermined
instruction. Regarding our research questions, two key results can be taken from our study:
(1) The experienced teachers independently used the wide range of principles of effective
teaching. This suggests the assumption, that these principles together inform a homogeneous body
of knowledge necessary for the analysis of complete lessons. (2) The pre-service teachers
participating in our study also used these principles of effective teaching. However, they differed
significantly from the experienced teachers across the most categories.
Particularly striking were the large differences in the activation of knowledge about these
five principles: goal orientation, relating cognitive activities to prior knowledge, classroom
climate/learning atmosphere, clarity, and using appropriate examples (s. the quoted statements
above). While the first three principles refer rather to the overall teaching process, the last two
principles focus on important details.
These quantitative differences could point to a different quality in the perception of
experienced and pre-service teachers. As shown in past and recent studies, it is a major challenge
for pre-service teachers to distinguish between important and unimportant details
(Barnhart & van
. Furthermore, they tend to notice classroom situations step by step and perceive lessons
as a chronological sequence of disconnected events
(Berliner, 2001; Star & Strickland, 2008)
a result, they cannot recognize and assess the functions of lesson elements for the whole teaching
process. On the contrary, experienced teachers are able to identify single situations and actions as
meaningful sub-activities of broader didactic units (phases) and to evaluate the learning
effectiveness of such units against the background of the whole teaching process
(Rosaen et al.,
2013; Wolff, van den Bogert, Jarodzka & Boshuizen, 2015)
In line with such studies it can be explained that the experienced teachers in our study
were, compared to the pre-service teachers, in a far better position to turn their attention both to
the overall teaching process (e.g., goal orientation, relating cognitive activities to prior
knowledge, classroom climate/learning atmosphere), as well as to the precise registering of
important details (e.g. confusing explanations, identifying inappropriate examples).
These significant differences between the experienced and pre-service teachers point to
specific development tasks, in order to improve the analytical skills of pre-service teachers within
teacher education. Because it remains a long way to become an experienced teacher with high
, the learning opportunities provided should aim at three
goals: (1) learning to notice what is significant, (2) increase of complexity of lesson events to be
analysed, (3) connecting theory (i.e., knowledge on principles of effective teaching) and
application (analysing videotaped lessons).
(1) In order to pick up pre-service teachers where they are, it is necessary to support them ?in
learning to first notice what is significant in a classroom interaction, than interpret that
event, and then use those interpretations to inform pedagogical decisions.?
(van Es &
Sherin, 2002, p. 575)
For this purpose, priority should be given to short videos in
combination with predetermined observation tasks focusing on a limited number of
principles of effective teaching in order to limit the observers? cognitive load. The
intervention studies mentioned above
(e.g., Krull et al., 2010; Wiens et al., 2013)
proved such measures to be effective.
(2) As the certainty has increased to identify and assess single events, more complex
situations should be chosen for making connections visible between single teaching
events. In this case, videos of longer duration are suitable, because they capture more
complex situations similar to real life teaching scenarios. The analysis of such situations
can then be arranged, for instance, in line with the model of the Lesson Analysis
(Santagata & Guarino, 2011; Hiebert et al., 2007)
characterised by the
following steps: identify lesson goals, assess whether the goals are being achieved,
construct hypotheses about cause?effect relationships between teaching and students?
learning, use analysis to propose improvements in teaching.
(3) Both goals (noticing what is important; increase of complexity of lesson events) can only
be achieved if pre-service teachers have the necessary theoretical knowledge about
principles of effective teaching (s. Table 1), because this knowledge enables them to
understand why the teaching behaviour must correspond to these principles. In order to
avoid this knowledge remaining idle or being lost when entering the profession, its
acquisition should be based on concrete contexts according to the theory of situated
and its application should be decontextualised through a
variety of applications (especially through analysing videotaped scenarios). These
procedures could strengthen the relationship between theory and practice
These proposals are formulated with caution, because we are aware that our study does not
allow generalisations to be made due to the small cohort of 18 participants. Additionally, the
video stimulus used was focused on a specific topic in a specific subject. Further studies have to
investigate, whether these generic principles of effective teaching are also a suitable tool for the
analysis of lessons in other subjects. Finally, it must be taken into account the fact that the number
of codings given in Table 2 is not produced through a standardised test procedure, but by means
of a qualitative content analysis with appropriate interpretive leeway.
Taking these limitations in consideration, we see our study as a useful addition to previous
studies reported above in which the participants had to watch video clips of only short duration
and their attention was channelled to just a few predetermined principles of effective teaching.
Our qualitative study provides evidence that experienced teachers use independently the wide
range of these principles as a homogeneous body of knowledge when analysing a complete
lesson. Therefore, in the course of teacher education these principles should be treated as
a coherent whole for an appropriate analysis of lessons. Teachers must be prepared to carry out
such analyses, because it is ?hard to imagine teachers becoming more effective over time without
being able to analyse teaching in terms of its effects on student learning.? (Hiebert et al., 2007,
This work was supported by the German Research Foundation (grant number PL 272/3-1).
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