Classroom observations by video just as effective as in-person examinations?
An interesting study released by the Best Foot Forward Project, a part of the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University, examines how effective classroom observations may be if conducted by video.
In what the project described as a controlled experiment, 400 teachers from California, Colorado, Delaware, and Georgia participated in the project in an effort to analyze if “video technology can make the classroom observation process easier to implement, less costly, and more valid and reliable.”
The study was conducted over two years and yielded interesting and positive results.
After reviewing the video, teachers were more “self-critical” and “rated their own instruction lower than comparison teachers, particularly in terms of time management and their ability to assess student mastery during class.”
A result of teachers being so open to criticizing their own performance was their willingness to be videotaped. Close to 100 percent of the teachers who participated turned over video of their classroom observations to administrators.
But maybe two of the biggest wins from the study were found in the interaction between teachers and their supervisors as well as teachers finding ways to improve.
According to results of the experiment, “nearly two-thirds of treatment teachers (63 percent) reported that video was “quite helpful” or “extremely helpful” in identifying areas where they need to improve.”
Regarding teachers and supervisor interaction, the project found that there were “fewer disagreements on the ratings they received and were more likely to describe a specific change in their practice resulting from their post-observation conference.”
Overall, this study was loaded with good and useful information regarding how teachers are observed and the wins received when video is used instead of an in-person observation.