, Volume 48, Issue 1–2, pp 153–165 | Cite as

The role of perception, interpretation, and decision making in the development of beginning teachers’ competence

  • Rossella Santagata
  • Cathery Yeh
Original Article


This study investigates beginning US elementary teachers’ competence for teaching mathematics and its development during teacher preparation and into the first 2 years of full-time teaching. Data are drawn from three longitudinal case studies and include the classroom video analysis survey, classroom observations and interviews about teachers’ instructional decisions, and whole-day shadowing. A multi-case study design was used to examine the processes of perception, interpretation, and decision making in participants’ comments on video clips of teaching episodes and in reflections about their own teaching. Findings support the central role of these processes in teacher competence and the generative power of reflections revolving around student thinking and tools, such as classroom discourse and visuals. Teachers’ communities also played an important role in teachers’ decision making. A model of teacher competence from a situated perspective is proposed and the classroom video assessment is discussed as a measure of teacher competence in context.


Teacher competence Video Video analysis Beginning teachers Longitudinal study Mathematics teaching 



This research was supported by the National Science Foundation [Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering (REESE) Program] under Grant DRL-0953038. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily express the views of the National Science Foundation. The authors thank the participating teachers for opening their classroom doors to us and for engaging in deep conversations about their practices and their professional lives.


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Copyright information

© FIZ Karlsruhe 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA

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