Videotaped Classroom Situations as Representations of Practice

The use of video has become a popular tool for studying teachers’ learning as well as activating teachers’ knowledge (Brophy, 2004; Goldman, Pea, Barron, & Denny, 2007). Videotaped classroom situations are seen as representative examples of practice (Grossman et al., 2009). They are valued for capturing the complexity of classroom interactions in a situated and authentic way and, thus, for providing a lively second-hand experience of teaching (Goldman et al., 2007; Miller & Zhou, 2007). Many approaches to video-based teaching research investigate teachers’ reasoning as an indicator of the quality of teachers’ knowledge. Most of these studies are embedded in the context of in-service teachers’ professional development. Their focus is on describing individual changes in teachers’ knowledge or the development of teacher groups reasoning jointly about video, for example in “video clubs” (Borko et al., 2008; Sherin & van Es, 2009; van Es, 2009). Although these studies do measure teachers’ reasoning in a contextualized manner, the standardized conditions necessary for assessing individual teachers’ knowledge are rarely achieved. The qualitative approaches typically used in such research require considerable time and effort. This leads to the disadvantage that the results can only be used as feedback after a significant amount of time has lapsed. Quantitative instruments, on the other hand, allow for more efficient data analysis. Such quantitative measures can provide a first indicator regarding, for example, the current state of teacher competencies. These indicators can then be used promptly for feedback on teaching and formative assessment. A promising approach developed by Kersting (2008) has responded to this challenge using standardized videos as “item prompts.” These prompts are embedded in open questions that tap into teachers’ individual interpretations of classroom situations. Kersting’s (2008) findings show that the standardized use of videos to measure teachers’ skills in interpreting classroom situations represents a valid approach by which to assess their knowledge.

In the development of the Observer Research Tool, we followed Kersting’s (2008) approach by integrating videos that prompt teachers’ knowledge concerning the target TL components (goal clarity, teacher support, learning climate). With regard to validity, we acknowledge the requirement that the videos used have to constitute a representation of the practice element to which the assessment of the knowledge application refers (Grossman et al., 2009). In this respect, researchers have to follow clear criteria during the video selection process (Sherin et al., 2009; Borko et al., 2008; Brophy, 2004), in addition to proving whether the selection does indeed meet those criteria (Shavelson, 2012). In our work, we established three main criteria that we see as essential to ensuring the context validity of the videos in a standardized assessment approach. In the following, we detail how the selection process was guided by those criteria as well as how we ensured high validity regarding the indented context that the videos should present.

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