how us preservice teachers ‘read’ classroom performances

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Universitaetsbibliothek Giessen]On: 22 October 2014, At: 08:25Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Journal of Education for Teaching:International research andpedagogyPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cjet20

    How US Preservice Teachers ReadClassroom PerformancesDona M. Kagan a & Deborah J. Tippins ba University of Alabama , 207 Graves Hall, Box 870231,Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USAb Science Education Department , University of Georgia ,212 Aderhold Hall, Athens, GA 30602, USAPublished online: 03 Aug 2006.

    To cite this article: Dona M. Kagan & Deborah J. Tippins (1992) How US Preservice TeachersRead Classroom Performances, Journal of Education for Teaching: International research andpedagogy, 18:2, 149-158, DOI: 10.1080/0260747920180204

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0260747920180204

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    http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

  • Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 18, No. 2, 1992 149

    How US Preservice Teachers 'Read'Classroom PerformancesDONA M. KAGANUniversity of Alabama, 207 Graves Hall, Box 870231, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA

    DEBORAH J. TIPPINSScience Education Department, University of Georgia, 212 Aderhold Hall, Athens,GA 30602, USA

    ABSTRACT Thirty-seven preservice teachers viewed and evaluated three videotapes of actualclassroom lessons. To reveal macrostructures that may have guided perception, we asked thenovices to recall as much of a lesson as possible one week after evaluating a tape. Some of thenovices then evaluated a live classroom performance. As a comparative gauge, 19 inserviceteachers also evaluated the three videotaped lessons. Running notes (taken while viewing avideo) suggested that the inservice teachers were able to render spontaneous functionalinterpretations of teacher behavior (a 'deep' reading), while the preservice teachers invariablydescribed teacher behavior first, then only sometimes noted its function (a 'surface' reading).The preservice teachers defined good teaching from a student perspective in terms of fun andinvolvement, while the inservice teachers defined good teaching from a teacher perspective interms of clear lesson structure. The preservice teachers appeared to use major activity structuresas macrostructures to help interpret lessons. The task of evaluating a live classroom perform-ance appeared to be more difficult and ambiguous than that of evaluating a videotaped lesson.In sum, results contribute to a growing body of literature that documents differences in hownovice and experienced teachers process and interpret classroom stimuli.

    INTRODUCTION

    Educational psychologists have found that novices bring preconceptions to everylearning situation, and that those pre-existing beliefs serve as filters and buildingblocks of new knowledge (Posner et al., 1982). This appears to be equally true ofpreservice teachers, who enter their teaching programs with well-established beliefsabout students and classrooms (Book et al., 1983; Feiman-Nemser et al., 1988;Hollingsworth, 1989; Weinstein, 1989).

    By extension, one can assume that the pre-existing beliefs held by preserviceteachers probably shape their perceptions of the classroom performances theyobserve as part of the field components traditionally included in programs ofpreservice teacher education (Howey & Zimpher, 1989). This has led severalteacher educators to speculate that much of the unsupervised classroom observation

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  • 150 D. M. Kagan &> D. J. Tippins

    entailed in preservice programs could be described as miseducative, i.e. subject togross misinterpretation by novices (Zeichner, 1986; Feiman-Nemser & Buchmann,1987; Calderhead, 1988; Koehler, 1988).

    Beyerbach et al. (1989) recently conducted an experimental study that pro-vided direct evidence of the potentially counterproductive effect of unsupervisedobservation during preservice teacher education. In the context of a course on childdevelopment, the researchers asked students enrolled in a teacher education pro-gram to discuss and analyse video segments of two children playing in variouscontexts over a span of 18 months. Students were asked to describe the developmentof the children, noting strengths and weaknesses and speculating as to their familylives.

    Beyerbach et al. (1989) found concrete evidence of students' selective attentionand inappropriate inferences. Although these preservice candidates attempted toapply the course content to the task, they lacked finely tuned observational skillsand tended to draw unsupported inferences. With no corrective feedback, one canimagine how incorrect inferences would simply tend to confirm students' precon-ceptions.

    Our study was designed to explore the insights suggested by Beyerbach et al.(1989), by examining the ways in which preservice candidates interpret teachingperformances they are asked to evaluate. We chose to use three videotaped teachingepisodes as stimuli so that we could evaluate the variance in novices' interpretationsof the same performances.

    Since we expected to find considerable variance in their interpretations, we alsosampled a population of inservice teachers in order to have a comparative standard.We were also interested in examining the degree to which classroom experiencemight affect consensus among teachers about the nature of 'good' instruction. Onthe basis of data obtained from preservice and inservice teachers, we hoped to drawinferences concerning the utility of unsupervised, unstructured classroom observa-tion as a part of preservice teacher education.

    We also perceived this as a study of how novice and experienced teachersprocess classroom information. Here we assumed that the task of evaluating ateaching performance is analogous to that of comprehending a written text (Kagan,1989). That is, we assumed that teacher evaluators (a term we use generically)unconciously look for macrostructures: key components of a classroom lesson thatthey use to interpret incoming stimuli, just as readers use the components of storygrammar (or other macrostructures of connected discourse) to help them compre-hend narratives (Kagan, 1989). We used recall tasks to reveal the nature ofmacrostructures, since the structures individuals impose on sensory stimuli are usedto store, recall, and interpret events (Bransford et al., 1972).

    A variety of empirical research has shown that novice and experienced teachersprocess and interpret classroom stimuli differently, e.g. experienced teachers aremore selective and chunk information, (Berliner, 1986) and approach classroomdiscipline problems differently (Swanson et al., 1990). Other studies have docu-mented differences in the way problems are represented and solved (Housner &Griffey, 1985; Leinhardt & Greeno, 1986; Carter et al., 1988). We designed a task

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  • Classroom Performances 151

    that would allow us to examine several fundamental questions about the way noviceand experienced teachers may process and interpret a teaching performance:

    (1) What scheme(s) do teachers use when taking running notes on a teachingperformance they have been asked to evaluate? What do these schemes suggestabout their ability to assign organization and meaning on-line to the behaviorsthey view?

    (2) What elements of a lesson do teachers regard as good and poor teaching? Donovices and experienced teachers approach a performance with different as-sumptions? Is there consensus within either group?

    (3) What macrostructures appear to gui

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