National Science Foundation
LessonLab Platform Introduces Teaching Analysis to Pre-Service Teacher Preparation

To increase high-quality teaching in mathematics classrooms, teacher preparation programs must ensure that graduates possess the competencies and dispositions needed to continue learning from their practice over time. There is no other way for beginning teachers to become expert practitioners. As part of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Mathematics Teaching and Learning (CMTL), faculty and doctoral fellows at the University of Delaware (UD) are testing a model that proposes careful analysis of teaching as an essential competency for continued learning. To study how pre-service teachers develop teaching analysis skills, a strategy needed to be created that would allow pre-service teachers to analyze classroom teaching and researchers to examine pre-service teachers work.

Video provides an excellent forum for analyzing teaching and for observing such analyses. This “LessonLab” platform allows viewers to study videotaped teaching episodes online; search and review segments as needed; mark critical learning moments and record analyses of them; and share and discuss with other viewers observations about strengths, weaknesses, and proposed lesson improvements.

The LessonLab platform has allowed the Mid-Atlantic Center to introduce special teaching analysis projects into the mathematics content and methods courses in the UD program. Each semester, 300+ elementary and middle school pre-service teachers analyze selected segments of mathematics teaching at relevant grade levels; engage in threaded discussions with their peers about the teaching segment(s); and propose revisions to the lesson that would improve students’ learning.

Because of the unexpectedly high-quality of responses of pre-service teachers on some of these tasks, the project launched a series of studies to examine entering pre-service teachers analytic skills. Based on the results of two separate studies, it appears that, under certain conditions, beginning pre-service teachers can identify important links between an instructional activity and students learning and can point to evidence from students responses to justify their claims. Although not fully developed, these are significant capabilities that will affect the design of teacher preparation programs. Interestingly, the condition under which pre-service teachers demonstrate these skills is created when they are told that the lesson they are about to watch was not very effective. If pre-service teachers simply are asked to judge the lessons effectiveness and provide evidence for their claims, they often make the classic mistake of assuming students learn what the teacher demonstrates or explains.

Future studies will explore the features of the teaching-analysis projects that build upon and extend pre-service teachers entry competencies. Of particular interest are the effects of these projects on the development of both teaching analysis skills and mathematics knowledge for teaching. The LessonLab platform holds promise for strengthening the manner in which pre-service teachers are prepared.

  Web Policies and Important Links | Privacy | FOIA | Help | Contact NSF | Contact Web Master | SiteMap