Objective and theoretical framework
Recently, Norwegian policy documents have increasingly focused on the teacher's role in classroom processes related to student learning and development (e.g., Ministry of Education, 2009; 2011). In 2012, a five-year national initiative to make lower secondary school education more practical and varied was implemented (Ministry of Education, 2011). A majority of the schools choose school-based professional training in classroom management. Participation provided teachers in these schools with research-based knowledge on classroom interactions e.g. through seminars and workshops at school.
Prominent theoretical models of instructional quality describe the most important aspects of instructionally quality (e.g. Kunter & Baumert, 2006; Pianta, Hamre, & Allen, 2012; Wubbels et al., 2015). In this study instructional support is understood as a key dimension of classroom interaction and a key element of a teachers’ instructional skills (Pianta, Hamre, & Allen, 2012; Ertesvåg & Havik, 2017). The national initiative provided an oportunity to investigate teachers’ improvement in instructional support, an area that, despite strong emphasis on classroom processes, has not been strongly elaborted on in policy documents.
The aim of this study is to investigate teachers’ improvement in instructional support, and explore what improving teachers do in the classroom to facilitate deep learning.
Methods and preliminary results
A mixed methods design was applied with survey (three waves of data), quantitative and qualitative video observations from four lessons. The sample was a purposeful sample of 227 teachers at 10 schools participating in the national initiative. Growth mixture modelling indicated two trajectories of change, a normative group and an improving group. A subsample of 8 teachers were further investigated through qualitative analysis of observation data to explore how improving teachers perform instructional support and what they actually do in their classroom. Results from Classroom Assessment Scoring System Secondary (CLASS-S) (Pianta, Hamre & Allen, 2012) were utilized to identify 4 teachers that were improving both by self-reports and by observations. Additionally, 4 teachers from the normative group identified as high on instructional support on CLASS-S scores were selected. The qualitative analysis will be finalized before the conference and investigate what improving teachers do in their classroom to facilitate deep learning.
The results indicate that although most teachers reported a weak, but significant, improvement of instructional support skills throughout the national initiative, there were a group of teachers reporting substantial improvement in instructional support. Preliminary qualitative analysis of the classroom observations indicate that good instructional support seems grounded in a solid base of emotional support and organizational management. The climate and culture of the classroom seems thereby to influence the amount and quality of deep learning.
Implications for practice, as well as pre-service and in-service training will be discussed. In particular we will discuss how development in instructional support may be part of a systematic development of professional capital at both individual, school and national level.
The paper connects with the strand of the conference Converging Pathways for Policy, Research and Practice. It is also relevant for the strand Measuring and Evaluating School Change.
Text: Professor Sigrun K. Ertesvåg and Associate professor Randi Myklebust Sølvik
Ertesvåg, S. K., & Havik, T. (2017). Student ratings of classroom interaction. Submitted.
Kunter, M., & Baumert, J. (2006). Who is the expert? Construct and criteria validity of students and teacher ratings of instruction. Learning Environments Research, 9, 231–251.
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