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Observation In Teaching: Towards a Practice of Objectivity

by Jacquelien Bos, Jan Terwel, Nico Verloop & Wim Wardekker - 2002

Because most informal classroom assessment is based on the observation of students by teachers, the purpose of the present study is to construct a view of this assessment that is consistent with the practitionersí perspective. To find out how teachers frame observation, we analyzed stories of 25 Dutch teachers about teaching diverse learners and focused on what they said about the observation of students. Most attempts to improve observation have recommended the separation of subject and object in an effort to eliminate teachersí personal frameworks. The present study, however, shows that observation is embedded in the action of teaching. Thus, the realities of the classroom do not allow teachers to separate themselves from what they are observing. An alternative view of objectivity is presented. This transactional view shows that the quality of teachersí personal frameworks is important and should not be eliminated: The supposition of being neutral and detached hampers the teaching of diverse learners. To prevent self-fulfilling prophecies from influencing student achievement in a negative way, pedagogical craftsmanship is essential. Starting from this view, the reliability and the validity of observation for classroom assessment are reframed in a nonstatistical way. According to this view, social practice plays an important role in deciding whether observation deserves a quality warrant. Apart from an alternative view of concepts such as objectivity, a practice of objectivity requires new ways of constructing theories and mentoring teachers to sharpen their perceptive faculty.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 104 Number 6, 2002, p. 1069-1100
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10977, Date Accessed: 9/20/2021 4:53:58 PM

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About the Author
  • Jacquelien Bos
    Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Netherlands
    E-mail Author
    JACQUELIEN BULTERMAN-BOS is completing a dissertation about teaching diverse learners. Her research interests include the relation between theory and practice in education. She is a former teacher and a teacher trainer.
  • Jan Terwel
    Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Netherlands
    E-mail Author
    JAN TERWEL professor of educational psychology at the Faculty of Psychology and Education, Vrije University, Amsterdam. His research interests include adaptive learning and instruction, social interaction and group composition. A recent publication by Dr. Terwel is "The Effects of Integrated Social and Cognitive Strategy Instruction on the Mathematics Achievement in Secondary Education," Learning and Instruction, 9(5), coauthored with D. Hoek and P. Van den Eeden.
  • Nico Verloop
    Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands
    NICO VERLOOP is professor of education and dean of ICLON Graduate School of Education at Leiden University, The Netherlands. He is immediate past president of the Dutch Educational Research Association. His research interests include research on teacher education and teacher cognition. His most recent publication is "Student Teachers' Beliefs About Mentoring and Learning to Teach During Teaching Practice," British Journal of Educational Psychology, 71, coauthored with J. D. Vermunt.
  • Wim Wardekker
    Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Netherlands
    E-mail Author
    WIM WARDEKKER is assistant professor at the at the Faculty of Psychology and Education at Vrije Universiteit. His research interest is in developing theories and practices of education based on a sociocultural viewpoint. His most recent publication is "Criteria for the Quality of Inquiry," Mind, Culture, and Activity, 7(4).
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