Video to support excellence in teaching (VIST)
Video to support excellence in teaching (VIST) is an innovative, practice-based professional development (PD) effort, where secondary school teachers’ classroom practices are video recorded, analysed with specific focus on scaffolding practices and discussed in close collaboration between practitioners and VIST-mentors.
Recent studies indicate that teachers’ instructional quality and practices make a difference in students’ learning and that the impact of both teacher characteristics and instruction is stronger than previously assumed. A core element of instructional quality that has been found to improve student learning is scaffolding, understood as teaching strategies that enable students to gain greater proficiency in a task and strengthen students’ self-regulation and motivation. The main aim of the ongoing VIST PD is to expand teachers’ repertoire of scaffolding – by systematically focusing on teachers’ use of modelling, strategies and feedback in their classroom.
The focus on these three aspects of teachers’ instructional scaffolding is based on consistent evidence from international research. While there are numerous studies supporting the effectiveness of explicit teaching practices, international research has also repeatedly found that scaffolding is scarce in many classrooms. The large-scale Norwegian video study LISA (Linking Instruction and Student Achievement) in lower secondary school suggests that this is also the case in Norway. In other words: research on the one hand identifies scaffolding a a key aspect of teaching, on the other hand it is an aspect many teachers find difficult to enact. This challenging gap is an important backdrop for the VIST-effort.
The main idea behind VIST is to depart from teachers’ instructional practices and to orchestrate activities that support teachers’ individual and collective reflection about the ways they provide instructional scaffolding for their students. The participating teachers are video recorded in Mathematics, Language Arts and Social Science lessons. These video-recordings are analysed using the observation manual PLATO (Protocol for Language Art Teaching Observation), where a domain covers instructional scaffolding, targeting strategy use and instruction, modeling, and feedback.
A VIST mentor from QUINT with subject-specific and scaffolding expertise then guides participating teachers throughout the school year with both individualised feedback, observations and group discussions based on the video recorded practices in each participating school.
One of the things that separates VIST from many other PD efforts, is that it draws on analysis of clips from authentic videotaped classroom episodes and has a systematic way of analysing and reflecting upon these clips. The use of an observation manual provides a common language to discuss and evaluate observed scaffolding. Each clip can be viewed repeatedly and from multiple perspectives, enabling teachers and researchers to closely examine both classroom interactions and lesson content and to discuss ideas for improvement, a recommended approach for improving teaching practices. Thus, VIST brings together an explicit focus on core teaching practices, a widely acknowledged observation protocol with high validity that has been successfully used in other PD courses, and video data as powerful feedback to practitioners.
This project is part of Theme 3: Videos to support teachers' professional learning within QUINT.