Of the 35 articles included in this literature review, 25 articles involved pre-service, eight in-service, and two both pre-service and in-service teachers (Sherin and van Es 2005; Star and Strickland 2008). These studies summarized a variety of programs that engaged teachers in viewing and analyzing videos of mathematics teaching in order to develop noticing competencies. Studies involving pre-service teachers were most frequently embedded in mathematics methods courses and focused on developing noticing of student thinking about a specific mathematics content (e.g., fraction concepts; algebraic thinking) or across multiple mathematics topics. Some studies aimed to develop pre-service teacher noticing of mathematics teaching practices or to foster their self-reflection. Articles involving in-service teachers were authored by a total of six research teams. They included studies that experimented with new technologies, such as student head-mounted cameras and animations, and most were structured as video clubs, in which groups of teachers came together to view and discuss videos of one another’s teaching.
Below we highlight trends and patterns from our analysis of the papers, distinguishing between pre-service and in-service studies when we found meaningful differences.
Theoretical perspectives of teacher noticing
To capture the theoretical basis of the video-supported programs, we examined both the terminology authors used to describe the program’s focus and the theoretical perspectives they drew on in their description and operationalization of teacher noticing. In addition, we categorized the goals that teacher educators had for teacher development of noticing in terms of focus (i.e., student thinking, equity, instructional practices, and mathematics) and the outcomes on which they reported positive findings.
A vast majority of studies drew from a cognitive-psychological perspective (91%) and used the term teacher noticing (86%, n = 30). The other three perspectives—socio-cultural, discipline-specific, and expertise-related—were less prevalent, and were found in 14% (n = 5), 9% (n = 3), and 11% (n = 4) of articles respectively.
In line with the cognitive-psychological perspective, studies distinguished between facets or sub-processes involved in noticing, mostly focusing on attending/perceiving (89%, n = 31) and interpreting/reasoning (80%, n = 20). Only 37% (n = 13) of studies included a focus on responding/decision-making (the percentage was larger for in-service than pre-service teachers) and even fewer included a focus on making connections between an element of instruction that was noticed in a video and existing theories on teaching and learning or theoretical frameworks from mathematics education (e.g., Alsawaie and Alghazo 2010).
The large majority of studies were designed to support the development of teacher noticing of student thinking (83%, n = 29) and/or noticing of particular instructional practices and classroom discourse (57%, n = 20). A smaller group of papers (20%, n = 7) centered and/or focused on noticing aspects of the mathematics or the mathematics tasks, while only one study included a focus on noticing for equity (3%, n = 1; i.e., McDuffie et al. 2014).
Finally, we reviewed the findings and discussion sections of publications and coded for aspects of teacher noticing that authors reported as improved as a result of teachers participating in video-supported programs. The focus on different facets of noticing in findings sections of papers aligned with the design of the programs and with the aspects of noticing on which the program activities centered. The most frequently reported improvement was for “attending” (83%, n = 29). The second was for “reasoning” (66%, n = 23) and then “responding” (23%, n = 8). Only a few studies reported changing of teachers’ classroom practices and ability to reflect on their instruction (17%, n = 6 in each category). Studies varied in what they considered as improvement. Most studies coded participants’ noticing according to categories that reflected different levels of sophistication and documented changes over time (e.g., Stockero et al. 2017). Some studies created profiles of teachers who noticed in different ways to document variation among teachers (Ivars et al. 2018). Finally, other studies used standardized measures to quantify improvement (e.g., Fisher et al. 2019).
The prevalent cognitive-psychological framing of existing research on noticing and the focus on student thinking most likely reflects the impact of the highly-cited work by Sherin and van Es (2005) and van Es and Sherin (2002). Together the reviewed studies provide evidence that video-supported programs can offer valuable and meaningful opportunities for teachers along the professional continuum to develop their noticing competencies in the context of mathematics instruction. The differentiation between the processes of attending/perceiving and interpreting/reasoning prevalent in most studies confirms the conclusions by Gaudin and Chaliès (2015) that video is an effective tool to support teachers’ development and improvement of these noticing facets. Conversely, a large number of studies (80%) included interpreting/reasoning in their introduction, and only 66% reported that their program supported the improvement on this facet of noticing. This discrepancy raises questions of whether studies failed to align their theoretical framing with the design of their video-supported activities and/or with the outcomes they chose to capture.
As with the broader literature on the use of video as a tool for teacher learning (Gaudin and Chaliès 2015), still very little work exists that examines the extent to which, and how, developing teacher noticing has also implications for the improvement of classroom practice.
As Fisher et al. (2019) and Sherin and van Es (2005) noted, additional research is also needed to understand how teachers engage in in-the-moment noticing during instruction. Understanding the nuances of these processes might help us to support the transfer of noticing competencies that teachers develop in video-supported environments, to their instructional practices.
Additionally, the more recent extension of noticing to include responding/decision making (Jacobs et al. 2010; Kaiser et al. 2015) is limited to only 8 studies in this review and more evidence could be collected that video can be used productively to develop this facet of noticing as well. Whether scholars consider responding/decision making as part of noticing or not (only 37% of articles included this facet in their conceptualizations), it is important to understand how the elements that teachers notice during their teaching is consequential for how they decide to respond and move instruction forward. In other words, responding and decision-making seem to be the natural next steps towards examining the impact of noticing-centered programs on teacher instructional practices (Table 1).
An area of overall concern is that the evidence for in-service mathematics teachers is limited to a few studies conducted by a small group of research teams from the USA. This reflects a limitation of the larger literature on teacher noticing, which is similarly dominated by research on pre-service teachers (König et al. 2020, under review).
Concerning the theoretical perspectives, very few studies embraced a socio-cultural approach and designed their programs with the goal of developing teacher professional vision (McDuffie et al. 2014; Michalsky 2014; Osmanoglu 2016; Sherin and van Es 2009).
A socio-cultural focus might enrich research on teacher noticing. A cognitive lens allows researchers to operationalize and measure teacher noticing processes with relative simplicity. Yet, the risk is to reduce noticing to mental processes that resemble technical conceptualizations of teacher competence as a set of skills to be trained. Scholars have argued for moving beyond reductionist views of teacher noticing (Scheiner 2016; Sherin and Star 2011), to include more explicitly cultural-historical and embodied-ecological approaches to study teacher noticing (Scheiner 2021). Such approaches call for a more complex view of teacher competence that highlights the situated, social, and distributed aspects of teacher cognition. This, in turn, might promote more research on the cognitive processes of attending and interpreting as situated within teachers’ broader vision of effective instruction, as shared among communities of practice, and as supported by tools such as video and frameworks, with a unit of analysis that is larger than the individual teacher. In the broader literature on teacher noticing, others have argued for the importance of these socio-cultural aspects (Herbst et al. 2016; Lande and Mesa 2016; Santagata and Yeh 2016). How this conceptualization may inform the design of video-supported mathematics teacher education programs remains an open question. Perhaps even more challenging is the development of shared measures and research protocols that document teacher professional vision and how it changes over time across settings (Osmanoglu 2016; van Es et al. 2017).
Use of video and video-based digital technologies
To answer the second research question, we documented the type of video that was used, whether viewing was supported through software and/or guiding frameworks, and whose videos were utilized. To provide contextual information about programs, we also documented program participation structure and duration in terms of contact hours and time span. We share this information in Table 2 for readers to see the variety of participation structures present in the literature and the time span devoted to noticing activities. It is noteworthy that the majority of articles (63%, n = 22) did not state clearly the number of hours teachers spent in activities focused on noticing, most likely due to the fact that activities focused on noticing were often interspersed with other teacher education activities, making it hard to delineate precise time frames. When contact hours were mentioned (37%, n = 13), they ranged from 3 to 150 h, with an average of a little over 30 h and a large standard deviation (M = 32.50; SD = 40.72).
Use of video
The majority of programs used video clips (63%, n = 22) to engage pre-service and in-service teachers in noticing tasks, and 34% (n = 12) included whole lesson videos. In most cases, videos portrayed other teachers’ classroom practices (51%, n = 18), 26% of studies (n = 9) included teachers’ own videos, and 40% (n = 14) included video clips that focused only on students solving a mathematical problem.
The large majority of programs (77%, n = 27) used structured frameworks or viewing guides to support teachers in learning to notice, while only 23% (8 papers) used open-ended prompts. Frameworks were specific to each program and included prompts to guide pre-service or in-service teachers’ analysis of videos. Some frameworks were grounded in research on student learning of specific mathematics concepts (e.g., Fisher et al. 2019); other frameworks guided participants to attend to the details of classroom interactions (e.g., Walkoe and Levin 2018). Two studies engaged teachers in video analysis using analytical tools that were developed for research purposes (Barth-Cohen et al. 2018; Mitchell and Marin 2015). Studies that engaged teachers in video clubs used open-ended prompts, such as “What do you notice?” (van Es and Sherin 2008). The ways video was used did not vary greatly between the studies that involved pre-service and in-service teachers (see Table 2).
Use of software technology and animation
Only 26% of studies (n = 9; 8 of which involved pre-service teachers) utilized software to support teachers’ noticing. The majority of studies involving software used an online interface to lay out the instructional activities, for example, to assign the videos for teachers to complete noticing activities and to introduce the noticing prompts (Fisher et al. 2018; Johnson et al. 2019; Michalsky 2014; Sherin and van Es 2005; van Es and Sherin 2002). Four studies used video annotation software, where participants could pause the instructional videos and attend to specific moments of instruction (Sherin and van Es 2005; Stockero et al. 2017; van Es and Sherin 2002; Walkoe 2015). Finally, five studies (14%) included animation in addition to video. One study employed cartoon sketches based on participants’ perceptions of instructional practices as prompts for noticing (Walkoe and Levin 2018). The remaining studies used animation to depict hypothetical classroom interactions (González 2018; González and DeJarnette 2018; González and Skultety 2018) or to help teachers record their noticing in animated forms (de Araujo et al. 2015).
Summary of Findings and Discussion
The authors of the studies we reviewed highlighted the benefits of using video as a tool, particularly for anchoring discussions of teaching and learning around specific evidence. They also noted that viewing frameworks offer essential guidance, and the nature of the prompts matters and is consequential for teacher learning (Diamond et al. 2018; Stockero et al. 2017; van Es and Sherin 2002; Walkoe 2015). A few authors also commented on how video allows for rich discussions and for supporting the development of an appreciation for the complexity of ambitious mathematics instruction (Estapa et al. 2016; González and DeJarnette 2018; van Es and Sherin 2006).
Authors also called for more research on the specific affordances of program designs, including a closer examination of viewing frameworks, prompts and facilitator moves (McDuffie et al. 2014; Walkoe and Levin 2018). From our analysis of this literature, it was evident that it is the combination of video with well-structured frameworks supported by well-prepared facilitators that optimizes video-supported programs. Studies including software and structured teacher collaboration also shed light on the potential of technology and of shared reflection and sense-making. Yet, the extent to which program designs have been unpacked in published articles to highlight design principles, theories of learning that inform decisions, conjectures that guide specific choices of video, prompts, feedback, and so on, is still limited.
Similarly, despite the advances of digital video technologies in the last one or two decades, this review made apparent that video software was rarely used, video annotation features were seldom utilized, and the potential of technology for supporting the development and for studying mathematics teacher noticing was under-examined.
An additional question that remains open in relation to the use of video in teacher education courses or professional development is the optimal duration in terms of contact hours and time span. Recent discussions in the context of research on the impact of professional development call for skepticism in considering the effect of duration separately from a consideration of program goals and how time is spent (Kennedy 2016). Nonetheless, practical considerations demand that we learn more about the amount of time that is necessary to develop meaningful noticing competencies that are consequential for teacher practices. We owe this to teacher educators who struggle to fit multiple learning goals into already packed teacher education courses and professional development programs (Santagata et al. 2018).
Researchers should make methodological decisions based on the questions their studies intend to answer. For this reason, before documenting the types of research methods used in the studies, we examined their research questions. Scholarly inquiry differed across studies predominantly along two types of research questions. Forty-three percent (n = 15) of studies examined the extent to which a program or intervention affected teacher noticing, and over half of the studies (57%, n = 20) examined how a program or intervention supported the development of teacher noticing. A few studies (n = 4) mentioned interest in examining the design features of programs. However, none of the studies reported using a design-based research (DBR) approach to investigate fully how specific features of program design impacted teacher learning. Studies ranged widely in the number of participants, M = 51.91, SD = 68.94, range (2, 296) with studies with in-service teachers including fewer participants than those with pre-service teachers [in-service M = 6.9, SD = 4.3, range (2, 13); pre-service M = 69.2, SD = 75.7, range (2, 296)].
We further examined the intersection of data collection approaches and study design, in relation to question types. Figures 2 and 3 illustrate the research methods by question types for studies involving either pre-service or in-service teachers (n = 33). There were some differences between empirical approaches used in pre-service and in-service teacher studies. Studies with pre-service teachers that inquired about how an intervention facilitated the development of noticing most frequently employed qualitative approaches (82%, n = 9), while studies with in-service teachers were about evenly split between qualitative and use of both qualitative and quantitative approaches (qualitative: 43%, n = 3; both approaches: 57%; n = 4).
The majority of studies asking about the impact of an intervention (to what extent) involved pre-service teachers (93%, n = 14). For pre-service teachers, these studies drew from a range of empirical approaches, most notably using both methods (57%, n = 8), qualitative (21%, n = 3), and quantitative (21%, n = 3). The one study that investigated the extent to which an intervention influenced in-service teachers’ noticing used a qualitative approach.
The figures also represent the various data collection methods through different colors. Studies that employed some mechanisms for grouping were noted with asterisks (*non-randomized; **randomized). The figures reveal that studies that examined how an intervention supported noticing mostly drew from cross-sectional and longitudinal designs. Meanwhile, studies that employed quantitative approaches to answer to what extent questions, exclusively relied on test data, independently from whether the study was cross-sectional (1 time point), pre-post (2 time points), or longitudinal (3 or more time points). Studies with both methods to answer to what extent questions, tended to draw from a broader range of data (i.e., interview, written report, video recording, and test), with some studies drawing from two or three data sources.
Only a few studies used grouping, and even fewer used randomized groups (Alsawaie and Alghazo 2010; Fisher et al. 2019; Prediger and Zindel 2017; Sherin and van Es 2005). Studies with grouping most often employed quantitative and qualitative-quantitative approaches to answer to what extent questions. Most studies used a control group that did not experience the video-based intervention (e.g., non-randomized grouping, Fisher et al. 2018, Kaendler et al. 2016, van Es and Sherin 2002; randomized grouping, Alsawaie and Alghazo 2010, Fisher et al. 2019, Sherin and van Es 2005). Only two studies used grouping to examine the impact of different intervention designs or noticing prompts (Walkoe and Levin 2018; Prediger and Zindel 2017).
Both discussion sections of reviewed publications and our own evaluation of studies led us to the conclusion that although the evidence is clear that engaging teachers in video-supported activities leads to meaningful changes and improvement in their noticing competencies, more attention is needed to investigation of specific elements that make programs successful. The use of grouping, particularly randomized experiments, could be leveraged to examine the potential impact of different program design features (e.g., materials, prompts, procedures, duration). Grouping could also be employed to answer how different program features may facilitate noticing. In addition, only a few studies (e.g., Llinares and Valls 2010) commented on design elements and purposely analyzed the affordances for teacher learning of specific prompts or facilitator moves. Evidence pertaining to in-service teachers is even more limited by the small number of existing studies. The absence of design-based research studies is discussed in our conclusion as a suggested direction for future research.