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Observation as a learning tool in pre-service teacher education

Observation as a learning tool in pre-service teacher education

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Observation as a learning tool in pre-service teacher education

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  1. Observation as a learning tool in pre-service teacher education Sanja Čurković Kalebić Faculty of Philosophy University of Split

  2. “There is no substitute for direct observation as a way of finding out about language classrooms” (Nunan, 1989:76)

  3. What is observation?

  4. Observation is a “non-judgmental description of classroom events that can be analyzed and given interpretation” (Gebhard & Oprandy, 1999:35)

  5. Why classroom observation?

  6. Classroom observation “opens up a range of experiences and processes which can become part of the raw material of a teacher’s professional growth?” (Wajnryb, 1992:1)

  7. Observingexperiencedsecondlanguageteachers student teacherscan • developanawarenessoftheprinciplesanddecisionmakingthatunderlieeffectiveteaching • distinguishbetweeneffectiveandineffectiveclassroompractices • identifytechniquesandpracticestheycanapply to their own teaching (Day, 1990:43) • refinetheability to observe, analyse, and interpret (Waynryb, 1992:7)

  8. How to observe?

  9. Approaches to observation (Day, 1990) • Qualitative approaches (include educational etnography, introduce student teachers to the complexity of the language classrooms and help them to see the multiple roles of the second language teacher) - Quantitative approaches (make use of observation techniques and instruments by means of which behaviours in the classroom are observed)

  10. Observation task • It is a “focussedactivity to work on whileobserving a lessonin progress”. (Wajnryb, 1992:7) • Observationtask • “limitsthescopeofwhat one is observingandallows one to focus on one or twoparticularaspects”, • “provides a convenientmeansofcollecting dana thatfreestheobserverfromforminganopinion or makingan on-the-spot evaluationduringthelesson. Thejudgmentalandinterpretative side comeslater, afterthelesson, andwillbebased on thecomplete data thathasbeencollected.” (Wajnryb, 1992:8)

  11. Study

  12. Aim • To gain an insight into the nature of student teachers’ learning about teaching through classroom observation

  13. Research questions • To identify the elements of teaching that draw student teachers’ attention while they observe mentors teach • To identify student teachers’ needs with respect to teaching strategies

  14. Database • 40 observationsheetsfilledinby40 student teachersofEnglishlanguageand literature at theUniversityof Split. • Observationtask: “Lessonplanning” (Wajnryb, 1992) • Objective: to determine- through a set offocussedandguidedquestions-whatdecisionstheteachermadeinplanningthelesson • Procedure: • Observe a lesson, make notes ofobservations, writedowninferencesconcerningtheteacher’s decisions, make a note ofquestionsthatyouwould like to asktheteacheraboutthevariousdecisionstakenaboutthelesson.

  15. Example (Waynryb, 1992:76)

  16. Data analysis – Part I • Inferences about the teacher’s decisons: • Ss noted down 262 inferences for 225 observations • Inferences were classified with respect to the guiding questions (Todd, 1997)

  17. Data analysis – Part II • 213 discussionquestionswerenoteddown. • Questionswereanalysedwithregards to thetypeofteachingstrategytheyreferto. • Classificationofteachingstrategieswasmade on thebasisofthe list offoreignlanguageteachingstrategiesthatmaybefoundin literature (e.g. Todd, 1997). • Thefollowingstrategieswereidentifiedinthedatabase: beginninglessons, presentingandexplaining, motivationalstrategies, code-switching (use ofmothertongue), questioning, classroom management, providingfeedback, correcting, checkingcomprehensionandlearning, timing, aids andmaterial use, endinglessons.

  18. For each question it was decided whether it refers to the choice, use or efficiency of a particular teaching strategy. • Examples from the database:

  19. Choiceofstrategy(examplefromthedatabase) • Observation: The teacher asks learners about their pets. • Inference: - Evidence of planning: The teacher wanted to set up an activity that promotes communication, to enable learners to improve their speaking skills. • Question for discussion: Should learners’ errors be corrected in this type of activity?

  20. Useofstrategy(examplefromthedatabase) • Observation: Thelearnersreadthetextofthe new lessonoutloud. Theyhavealreadyheardthetextfromthecassetteplayer. Some learnersmispronounce new words. • Inference: - Evidenceofplanning Theteacherswantsthelearners to masterpronuncationandintonation. • Question for discussion: Shouldlearnersbecorrectedimmediately or shoulderrorsbecorrectedwhenthelearnerfinishesreadingthetext?

  21. Efficiencyofstrategy(examplefromthedatabase) • Observation: Learners are retellingthetextusing “there is” and “there are”. Theteachercorrectserrorsintheir talk. • Inference: - Evidenceofplanning Inthiswaytheteacherwants to makelearners use the new vocabulary. • Question for discussion It is evidentthatthelearners do notunderstandthe use of “there is” and “there are”. Shouldn’t theteacherexplainthisstructureagaininsteadofcorrectinglearnererrors?

  22. Findings

  23. Inferences about teacher decisions-results of analysis

  24. The distribution of inferences concerning the teacher’s decisions • 1. Checking for comprehensionandlearning 19.08% • 2. Motivatingthestudents to thelesson 11.83% • 3. Providingsafecontext for practice 11.45% • 4. settingupactivitiesthatpromotecommunication 9.16% • 5. Helpingstudents to identifyrulesandorganise 8.01% new knowledge • 6. The aids to beusedinvariouspartsofthelesson 7.63% • 7. Establishing a certainclassroomatmosphere 6.10%

  25. The distribution of inferences concerning the teacher’s decisions- ctd 8.5 Involvingthestudents anddrawingoutpassiveknowledge 4.58% 8.5 Lexis:how much to teach?What? When? 4.58% And how? 8.5 Howinformation is to beorganisedandshared 4.48% 11.5 Establishing a frameworkinwhichstudents work withouttheteacher 3.81% 11.5 Endingthelessonandlinking it to previous/future ones 3.81% 13 Realisticallycontextualisingthelanguage 2.67% 14. Integratingskillsinvolvedinthelesson 1.52% 15 Shiftingthefocusandpatternsofinteraction 1.14%

  26. Questions about teacher decisions- results of analysis

  27. Table 2. Frequency of questions about teaching strategies in the sample

  28. ExamplesChoice: “What are other techniques for introducing new lexical items?”Use: “Should grammar be taught deductively (as is the case here) or inductively?”Efficency: “ Will comprehension be faciliated if learners are given an example?”

  29. Choice: “Should language practice be organised as a whole class activity?”Use: “Shall we try to invole all the learners to participate in discussion or only the strongest students?”Efficiency: “Is working in pairs efficient?”

  30. Choice: What are the criteria according to which questions are asked?”Use: How many questions are to be asked when revising the previous lesson?”Efficiency: Are pupils ready to answer the questions only after two reading of the text?”

  31. Choice: “How much time should be reserved for repetition?”Use: “Why did she give them homework in th emiddle of the lesson?”Efficiency: Does the teacher give them too much time (they finish early and get restless)?”

  32. Choice: “How to decide what kind of motivation to use before the lesson?”Use: “What to do if the learners are not interested in the topic of conversation?”Efficiency: “Is this kind of motivation a waste of time?”

  33. Choice:”Should the learners who memorised the words incorrectly be corrected?”Use: “Should we correct learners by interrupting them or wait till they finish reading?”Efficiency: “Should the teacher, instead of correcting learner errors, explain the structure again? It is evident that they have not understood)?”

  34. Choice:”What other aids could be used in the process of vocabulary acquisition?”Use: “Is it necessary to play the CD three times?”Efficiency: “Is the use of realia too childish for the learners of the 6th grade?”

  35. Choice: “How to decide how to end the lesson?”Use: “ What to repeat at the end of the lesson?”Efficiency: “Is this a good way to end the lesson?”

  36. Choice: “How to decide how to start a lesson?”Use: To what degree does informal discussion help in preparing learners for the lesson?”Efficiency: “Was there a better way to start a lesson?”

  37. Choice: “What is the best wayto organise comprehension practice?”Use: “How many questions to ask to check their comprehension of the text?”Efficiency: I”s this a good way to check their vocabulary knowledge?”

  38. Choice: “Should we introduce new vocabulary in the mother tongue or in a foreign language?

  39. Choice: “Should we always evaluate their (learners’)work?”Use: “How to grade their homework?”

  40. Distribution of student teachers’ interest for the types of knowledge about teaching strategies (first five strategies in ranking)

  41. Main conclusions • Findings from this study show that at the beginning of their teaching pratice student teachers possess high awareness about the necessity of gaining competence for making decisions about teaching strategies. • The results of the analyses indicate that student teachers are aware not only of the need to acquire a repertoire of teaching strategies but also to develop criteria for choosing appropriate strategies.

  42. Implications for theteachereducationandfurtherresearchinthearea • A systematicacquisitionofteachingstrategiesmightpromote more active student teacher’s role inobservingmentorsteachandincriticalconsiderationof own attitudes. • Furtherresearchinthisdomaincouldinvestigatethe nature ofdevelopingcompetenceswithrespect to student teachers’ decisionsaboutteachingstrategies.Suchresearchshouldbebased on student teacherwrittenfeedbackaboutthefactorsthat influence theirdecisions as wellastheexperiencesuponwhichtheymake/change theirdecisions.