Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 107–125 | Cite as

Learning to observe: using video to improve preservice mathematics teachers’ ability to notice

  • Jon R. StarEmail author
  • Sharon K. Strickland


Video has assumed an increasingly prominent role in teacher education, particularly in the form of the viewing of videotaped class lessons by preservice teachers. Yet there is little research that confirms whether preservice teachers attend to the aspects of the video(s) that teacher educators anticipate or desire. This article explores this issue and reports on the impact of video viewing as a means to improve teachers’ ability to be observers of classroom practice. We utilized a pre- and post-test design to measure the quantity and type of classroom events that preservice mathematics teachers noticed before and after a teaching methods course where improving observation skills was an explicit goal. The results of the pre-assessment suggest that preservice teachers generally do not enter teaching methods courses with well-developed observation skills. The post-assessment indicates that the course led to significant increases in preservice teachers’ observation skills, particularly in teachers’ ability to notice features of the classroom environment, mathematical content of a lesson, and teacher and student communication during a lesson.


Preservice teacher education Secondary mathematics education Video recording Observation skills 


  1. Abell, S. K., & Cennamo, K. S. (2004). Videocases in elementary science teacher preparation. In J. Brophy (Ed.), Using video in teacher education (pp. 103–130). Amsterdam: Elsevier Ltd.Google Scholar
  2. Artzt, A. F. (1999). A structure to enable preservice teachers of mathematics to reflect on their teaching. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 2, 143–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Battista, M. T., Clements, D. H., Arnoff, J., Battista, K., & Borrow, C. V. A. (1998). Students’ spatial structuring of 2D arrays of squares. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 29(5), 503–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berliner, D. C., Stein, P., Sabers, D. S., Clarridge, P. B., Cushing, K. S., & Pinnegar, S. (1988). Implications of research on pedagogical expertise and experience in mathematics teaching. In D. A. Grouws & T. J. Cooney (Eds.), Perspectives on research on effective mathematics teaching (pp. 67–95). Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.Google Scholar
  5. Bliss, T., & Reynolds, A. (2004). Quality visions and focused imagination. In J. Brophy (Ed.), Using video in teacher education (pp. 29–52). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  6. Brophy, J. (Ed.) (2004). Using video in teacher education. Amsterdam: Elsevier Ltd.Google Scholar
  7. Carter, K., Cushing, K. S., Sabers, D. S., Stein, P., & Berliner, D. C. (1988). Expert-novice differences in perceiving and processing visual classroom information. Journal of Teacher Education, 39(3), 25–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Frederiksen, J., Sipusic, M., Sherin, M. G., & Wolfe, E. (1998). Video portfolio assessment: Creating a framework for viewing the functions of teaching. Educational Assessment, 5(4), 225–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Grant, T. J., Hiebert, J., & Wearne, D. (1998). Observing and teaching reform-oriented lessons: What do teachers see?. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 1, 217–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lampert, M., & Ball, D. L. (1998). Teaching, multimedia, and mathematics: Investigations of real practice. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  11. Lortie, D. C. (1975). Schoolteacher: A sociological study. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  12. Masingila, J. O., & Doerr, H. M. (2002). Understanding pre-service teachers’ emerging practices through their analyses of a multmedia case study of practice. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 5, 235–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Mason, J. (1996). Expressing generality and roots of algebra. In N. Bednarz, C. Kieran, & L. Lee (Eds.), Approaches to algebra: Perspectives for research and teaching (pp. 65–86). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  14. Sabers, D. S., Cushing, K. S., & Berliner, D. C. (1991). Differences among teachers in a task characterized by simultaneity, multidimensionality, and immediacy. American Educational Research Journal, 28(1), 63–88.Google Scholar
  15. Sherin, M. G. (2004). New perspectives on the role of video in teacher education. In J. Brophy (Ed.), Using video in teacher education (pp. 1–28). Oxford: Elsevier Ltd.Google Scholar
  16. Sherin, M. G., & Han, S. Y. (2004). Teacher learning in the context of a video club. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20, 163–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Sherin, M. G., & van Es, E. A. (2005). Using video to support teachers’ ability to interpret classroom interactions. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 13(3), 475–491.Google Scholar
  18. Stein, M. K., Grover, B. W., & Henningsen, M. (1996). Building student capacity for mathematical thinking and reasoning: An analysis of mathematical tasks used in reform classrooms. American Educational Research Journal, 33(2), 455–488.Google Scholar
  19. van Es, E. A., & Sherin, M. G. (2002). Learning to notice: Scaffolding new teachers’ interpretations of classroom interactions. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 10(4), 571–596.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of EducationHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.College of EducationMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

Personalised recommendations