Authors: Tara Barnhart, Elizabeth van Es
Presented at 2017 AERA
Abstract: NGSS requires teachers to design and enact tasks that promote students’ reasoning about phenomena (Reiser, 2013). This study explores how participation in a video club helped secondary science teachers analyze student thinking and supported them in enacting classroom tasks that made students’ reasoning visible. We drew on research on teacher noticing and design based research to frame the study (Authors, 2008a; Sandoval, 2014). Using conjecture mapping, we hypothesized that engaging teachers in professional development focused on students’ ideas using artifacts of practice would result in their experimentation with instructional tasks. This approach is consistent with research that highlights the mediating role of artifacts for supporting teacher learning and changes in practice (Authors, 2006; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Windschitl et al., 2012). Five secondary science teachers met monthly for a semester to collaboratively examine video clips and student work samples focused on students’ disciplinary reasoning. Facilitation focused on developing an interpretive stance toward students’ ideas to examine how task structure can afford or limit opportunities for students’ reasoning. Data consisted of meeting transcripts, pre-post interviews, classroom observation field notes, and artifacts of instruction. We developed a framework to capture what participants attended to in the artifacts, how they attended to it, and how they collaborated during the video club meetings (Authors, 2008b; Lincoln & Guba, 1985). We analyzed classroom data for evidence of teachers making space for, attending to, and using student ideas to inform instructional choices (Authors, 2014a). We constructed time ordered matrices to examine shifts in their thinking over the course of the video club (Miles et al., 2014) and used these to analyze similarities and differences in the changes in teachers’ analyses of instruction in the video club context and in their practice (Authors, 2008a). Analysis revealed two central findings. First, consistent with previous video club studies (e.g. Authors, 2008a), participants’ attention to student thinking became more sophisticated and evidence-based over time. In particular, the teachers came to use interpretations of student thinking grounded in artifacts to launch discussions that problemetized instructional challenges they faced in their own practice. Second, though all participants expressed value for and interest in making student thinking visible in instruction, not every participant experimented with these practices during instruction. Teachers identified several obstacles that limited experimentation, including curriculum, high-stakes tests, and lack of specificity in personal learning goals. Those who did experiment remarked that managing discourse around revised instructional tasks was challenging. Findings verify that the instructional moves needed to elicit student thinking are different from those needed to leverage student ideas to sustain discussions about disciplinary ideas in real time (Windschitl et al., 2012). Each are important elements of responsive teaching, but require different professional development activities to develop. Because a change in beliefs is tied to “second-order changes” in practice, further examination of what “counts” as teacher learning and how changes in practice are negotiated by teachers is warranted (Ertmer, 2005).