At one level, the study investigates the use of video recording and feedback to teachers as a tool for instructional improvement in lower secondary language arts. At another level, the study develops and tests a model for long-term sustainable collaboration on improvement research between universities and school owners. The study thus combines professional development with improvement research and is a signed cooperation between Karlstad University, the Regional Professional Development Centre in Värmland and the municipalities of Eda, Karlskoga, Karlstad and Kil.
Recent studies indicate that quality of instruction is the single most important school-based factor to predict student achievement, and that teachers’ contribution to student learning vary significantly. This motivates systematic investigation to identify features of instruction that are critical to valued outcomes such as student learning and motivation. The QUINT project represent an ambitious endeavor to contribute an increased understanding of what teaching quality is and how it can be recognized and improved in various settings and content areas.
Over the past decade, increased attention has also been paid to the need for collaborative, practice-based research in order to encourage the development of evidence-based methods and, ultimately, to improve education. In Sweden in 2017, the government commissioned a national pilot project (ULF) to develop and test models for collaboration between academia and school regarding practice-based research. Together, researchers and teachers are expected to produce new knowledge and evidence-based methods for teaching and analysis of teaching in order to increase the quality of education and raise the level of educational achievement.
LISA-PLOT draws on the experiences and findings from the LISA project and uses The Protocol for Language Arts Teaching Observation (PLATO; Grossman, 2015) as a theoretical lens for observation of teaching and feedback to teachers. The projects relies on a joint initiative from municipalities in Värmland, the Regional Development Centre and Karlstad University, and a shared ambition to improve the quality of reading instruction in middle and lower secondary grades. More specifically, the aim of the study is
- to determine whether observations and video recordings of teaching followed by feedback to teachers, based on a selection of PLATO variables, can be used to support the improvement of middle and lower secondary reading instruction, and
- to investigate the structural potential of a regionally based improvement network focused on reading didactics to support long-term cooperation between schools and the university and to improve the quality of teaching.
The project is designed as a collaborative and longitudinal intervention, or action research project (Bruce, Flynn, & Stagg-Peterson, 2011; Rönnerman, 2012) in which teachers and teacher coaches are trained to use PLATO as a lens for observation and evaluation of teaching. Principals of participating schools form a sub network aimed at providing organizational support for teachers’ professional development. Researchers work as project leaders to provide PLATO training, to support teacher coaches in their feedback to teachers, and to scaffold the teachers’ learning process.
In order to answer the research questions, the study collects data of both the process and the product of teachers’ development. That means that we collect data to reveal the nature of teachers’ learning process and the changes in practice as well as data to understand the quality of cooperation and its structural potentials and pitfalls. These data take the form of video records of teaching, audio samples from feedback sessions and group discussions, individual interview data with teachers, coaches, and principles as well as survey data from teachers and their students.
LISA-PLOT is part of Theme 3: Videos to support teachers' professional learning. The study is financed by the Swedish government research initiative for practice-based research (ULF) in 2020–2021.
Bruce, C. D., Flynn, T., & Stagg-Peterson, S. (2011). Examining what we mean by collaboration in collaborative action research: a cross-case analysis. Educational Action Research, 19(4), 433–452.
Grossman, P. (2015). Protocol for Language Arts Teaching Observations (PLATO 5.0). Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University.
Rönnerman, K. (2012). Aktionsforskning i praktiken: förskola och skola på vetenskaplig grund. Lund: Studentlitteratur.