Observing Classrooms Using Technology Heather C. Hill Harvard Graduate School of Education
Why use technology to capture classroom instruction? • Define “technology”… • 1970s, Cooley and Leinhardt videotaped classrooms for the Instructional Dimensions Study • Since then, many uses of recorded classroom observations to enrich / enlighten • Deborah Loewenberg Ball / Magdalene Lampert’s self-study of mathematics teaching • TIMSS video study (Stigler and Hiebert) • Video clubs (Sherin and colleagues); direct feedback on teaching (CLASS My Teaching Partner)
Advantages of technology (2010) • To understand instruction: • International comparisons • “Local” comparisons • Re-watching enables fine-grained analysis of what occurs in math classrooms
Unpacking instruction • Graciano • 8th grade • Students are supposed to find and interpret the slope of the line • Going over homework • Problem: Phone company charges $0.25 per minute. Graphthe cost per minute, find the slope of the line • Question: What do you “see” upon watching the tape once? What would you want to know if you saw it again?
Graciano • What did you see? • Do you want to see it again?
Advantages of technology (2010) • To understand: • International comparisons • “Local” comparisons • Re-watching enables fine-grained analysis of what occurs in math classrooms • To improve: • Take teachers “out of the moment” to reflect on their own teaching • Provide direct feedback to teachers for improvement • Major advantage: “Objective”
Advantages of technology: 2011? • To monitor, evaluate and reward? • Existing system of teacher evaluation is very, very broken • Most evaluations not done by content experts • Most teachers get positive evaluations (97% in Boston and LA) • Anecdotal evidence that many principals do not even observe teachers, or observe for very long • Yet we know from our studies and others that mathematics instruction in the U.S. is of variable quality • Some very, very poor
Advantages of technology: 2011? • Proposal: Use technology to monitor performance of beginning teachers of mathematics • Use information to… • Counsel some out of teaching, or teaching mathematics • Funnel teachers to professional development specifically targeted to weaknesses • Identify outstanding teachers for leadership/specialist positions
Challenges to this vision • Need a cheap but high-quality way to capture teaching • Graciano lesson: $800 • To scale this proposal, need captures at about $150/lesson • Need good-quality audio, also board capture • Need capacity to handle/process video • As it comes in • As it is coded by objective raters (capacity) • Need “wrap-around” data (teacher interviews, artifacts such as textbook materials)
Challenges to this vision • Need studies that show what video cannot capture • What does live observation afford that videotape does not? • Are we penalizing some teachers unfairly? • Instruments (!) • MQI, CLASS, PLATO, need others…. • Generalizability studies to determine teacher reliability, number of lessons required, best rater configurations… • Implementation • How do you use this with real teachers, real principals, real HR departments?
The Capacity to Support… (2010) • Lots of research projects experimenting with “homemade” solutions (Flips, laptops, iPhones) • Companies like thereNow, Teachscape have made inroads into cheap, remote
Trying this at home…issues • Operator vs. no operator camera • Former gives you much more flexibility, but is more expensive • Level of video detail required for the type of information you wish to gather • Do you need penstroke board capture? Do you need shots of student reactions? Just the teacher? • One vs. two camera solutions • The Make or Break: Audio
Conclusions • Is this technology’s time? • Certainly for small- & moderate-scale research projects, professional development • For evaluation? Hard to tell • History of reforms being “eaten by the system” • But strong need for better identification and accountability