Are Graded Lesson Observations the "Elephant" in Our Classrooms? An Exploration into the Views of In-Service Teacher Trainees on Lesson Observations

Abstract

The title of this article is inspired by a teacher trainee who used this expression to refer to teaching observations undertaken by Teacher Educators on teacher training courses. The expression is suggestive of a problematic view of lesson observations. This article seeks to examine the perspectives of in-service teacher trainees on this issue. Mixed research methods were used, focusing on real-life contexts and perspectives. The first research method involved a survey that aimed to determine trainees’ perspectives and identify a sample of their views. A key feature of this survey was that it required that trainees provide a commentary in which they were asked to provide a rationale for their answers. Some of the survey questions could be interpreted as leading questions, but these same questions were then totally re-framed during the focus groups using language indicative of an antithetical viewpoint to those asked during the survey. It was hoped that this would encourage a more dialectical debate and search for new perspectives and interpretations of the data. This is also a technique cited by Moore (2000) with regard to dialectical research and analysis. The use of a range of data collection methods and reasonable sample size (32) also helps to support the validity of the overall data. The rationale was to gain an insight into trainees’ perspectives on lesson observations. To do this, a survey was conducted, which was then followed up with two focus groups. The purpose of the focus groups was to open up a more exploratory discussion where contrasting opinions were encouraged. This research concluded with two in-depth interviews with teacher trainees to discuss their specific perspectives. The purpose of the interviews was to review a range of strategies, which might be used to help observers support staff and teacher trainees to create more effective teaching and learning observations. The findings from this research highlighted key issues with regard to graded teaching and learning observations. A range of recommendations is offered to help. Some changes to the approach of initial teaching providers are suggested, in addition to opening spaces for trainees and teacher trainers to explore these issues. The trainees surveyed welcomed these suggestions.

How to Cite

Brockway D. S. (2016) “Are Graded Lesson Observations the "Elephant" in Our Classrooms? An Exploration into the Views of In-Service Teacher Trainees on Lesson Observations”, Teaching in Lifelong Learning. 7(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.5920/till.2016.712

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Dominic Stephen Brockway

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