The Role of Video in Teacher Learning

Investigators: Elizabeth van Es (with Miriam Gamoran Sherin, Northwestern University)

Funding: National Science Foundation (July 1, 2003 - June 30, 2009)

This research project investigated the ways in which mathematics teachers learn as they interact with video in a variety of professional development contexts. We sought to understand both what teachers learned as they viewed video excerpts of classrooms, as well as how this learning took place. A central focus of the study was to characterize how video influenced teachers' professional vision. More specifically, we examined the ways in which teachers learned to notice and interpret classroom interactions in new ways through analyzing video records of teaching.

Results of this research indicate that video can be a productive tool for developing teachers' professional vision. Our research identified particular ways that groups of teachers who participated in video-based professional development shifted both in what they attended to when they observed teaching and how they analyzed what stood out to them (Sherin & van Es, 2009; van Es & Sherin, 2006, 2008). In two video-based professional development programs focused on learning to notice student thinking, for example, we found that both groups of teachers shifted from general observations and evaluations of teaching to more specific analyses of student thinking and learning. Furthermore, not only did the teachers shift in their noticing, but they also adopted new ways of participating in professional development (van Es, 2009), taking on active roles that enabled them to accomplish the goals of the professional development program. We also identified features of video clips that help teachers engage in substantive analysis of classroom interactions (Sherin, Linsenmeier, & van Es, in press). Finally, preliminary analysis of the role of the facilitator considers how the facilitator helps teachers learn to analyze teaching in new ways over time (van Es, 2009). Future research will compare teacher learning across video-based professional development programs, as well as examine the relationship between participants, facilitators, and the video-based tools used for teacher development.

For more information about this project, email Elizabeth van Es ( or visit: