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The Resurgence of Video as a Teacher Development Tool

by Billie Gastic - October 04, 2013

This commentary describes the challenges and opportunities associated with using video as a professional development tool for beginning teachers.

For nearly 40 years, teacher-educators and educational researchers have sought to leverage video technology to promote teacher development (e.g., Dawson, Dawson, & Forness, 1975). The longevity of video as a tool for teacher education has been due in large part to remarkable advances in the availability of affordable, portable, and ubiquitous video recording functionality, such as that available in most mobile devices. In addition, video annotation tools facilitate the sharing of feedback between teachers and mentors based on classroom footage (Rich & Hannafin, 2009). This is an enhancement from post-observation conferences that relied on observer notes and collective memory. Video sets the stage for teachers to receive more specific and actionable feedback about their teaching.

The potential for self-confrontation to produce insightful reflection about ones teaching has been long acknowledged (e.g., Fuller & Manning, 1973). More recently, video has also emerged as a way to collect authentic, contextual, and real-time evidence of effective teaching (Cantrell & Kane, 2013). In its essence, video enables the more accurate depiction of actual teaching, thus giving teachers the chance to learn from the review of realistic practice and not have to rely on what can be faulty or degraded memory.

Researchers have examined how classroom video can yield improvements in teacher practice (Borko, 2004). Much of the value of teacher video is thought to be because of the change that it prompts in what teachers observe about what is happening in their classrooms. These changes in observation affect the understanding that teachers have about what is happening and therefore set the stage for more thoughtful conversations and considerations of teaching and learning. For example, Sherin and Han (2004) described how the experience of watching classroom footage as part of a video club changed the nature of the observations that teachers had about what was going on in their classroom and opened the door to discussions that focused less on teacher behavior and more on student academic engagement and behavior.

Another example of this is a study that found that learning to focus on the goals of the lesson, student learning, and teaching alternatives when you are looking at your own video means that you are better able to analyze instruction. Specifically, teachers did a better job of picking up teacher practice and decision-making, student behavior and learning, and math content (Santagata, Zannoni, & Stigler, 2007). Video can also be a resource for teachers who are not the subject of the video. Wang and Hartley (2003)s review of the literature underscored how video can enable opportunities for teachers to see and learn from myriad teaching situations and environments that they would not otherwise have access to. As the use of video in teacher education and ongoing professional development and evaluation becomes more common, efforts have been made to theorize and provide methodological guidance, and discuss issues of privacy related to how to use video as data (Derry et al., 2010; Goldman, Pea, Barron, & Derry, 2007).

As the Director of Research at the Relay Graduate School of Education, where the use of video features heavily in how students learn and are assessed, I spend considerable time studying the challenges and opportunities of video to facilitate teacher reflection and improved practices, as described by beginning teachers themselves. Teachers shed light on the challenges that come along with introducing a new technology to individuals, even those who are otherwise familiar with technology (e.g., camera phones, web browsing, online file sharing).

Teachers describe having difficulty overcoming their technical problems with video and cameras. Teachers cited both the stress and constraint they feel when they set up a camera for the purposes of recording a lesson to share with their colleagues and faculty for the purpose of receiving feedback. While teachers describe their occasional difficulty in creating and sharing their own videos, there was overwhelming recognition of the value of watching and discussing videos of their colleagues and unknown exemplars. In fact, watching their colleagues videos that depicted teaching strategies in development, but not yet perfected, seemed to reduce teachers defensiveness about the quality of their own instruction, making them more comfortable about both giving and receiving feedback. Consistent with the existing literature on the value of video to facilitate professional discussions of teaching practice and student learning, these teachers recognized the importance of video as a core curricular element from which they benefitted.

Video will only increase in its use in the lives of teachers. Currently, teacher certification exams, such as edTPA, include a video component. Also, video is explored as an option to replace in-person classroom observations that can be expensive and hard to coordinate. Despite the general publics increased comfort with technology, it is misguided to assume that this means that the expansion of the use of video in the classroom, directed for teacher preparation, will not require acute attention to the technical aspects of use and responsibility. Additionally, teacher educators should acknowledge the instructional value of a wide set of classroom video types, not only exemplars, and consider how they can curate a set of videos for their beginning students with a wide range of purposes in mindfrom building trust within a group, to cultivating openness to critical feedback, to demonstrating developmental stages of teaching skill, and representing a level of mastery that one can strive for.


Borko, H. (2004). Professional development and teacher learning: Mapping the terrain. Educational Researcher, 33(8), 3-15.

Cantrell, S., & Kane, T. J. (2013). Ensuring fair and reliable measures of effective teaching. Seattle, WA: Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation. Retrieved July 3, 2013 from http://metproject.org/downloads/MET_Ensuring_Fair_and_Reliable_Measures_Practitioner_Brief.pdf

Dawson, P. J., Dawson, K. E., & Forness, S. R. (1975). Effect of video feedback on teacher behavior. The Journal of Educational Research, 68(5), 197-201.

Derry, S. J. , Pea, R. D. , Barron, B., Engle, R. A., Erickson, F., Goldman, R., Hall, R., Koschmann, T., Lemke, J. L. , Sherin, M. G., & Sherin, B. L. (2010). Conducting video research in the learning sciences: Guidance on selection, analysis, technology, and ethics. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 19(1), 3-53.

Fereday, J., & Muir-Cochrane, E. (2006). Demonstrating rigor using thematic analysis: A hybrid approach of inductive and deductive coding and theme development. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 5(1), 80-92.

Fuller, F. F., & Manning, B. A. (1973). Self-confrontation reviewed: A conceptualization for video playback in teacher education. Review of Educational Research, 43(4), 469-528.

Goldman, R., Pea, R., Barron, B., & Derry, S. J. (2007). Video research in the learning sciences. New York: Routledge.

Rich, P. J., & Hannafin, M. (2009). Video annotation tools: Technologies to scaffold, structure, and transform teacher reflection. Journal of Teacher Education, 60(1), 152-167.

Santagata, R., Zannoni, C., & Stigler, J. W. (2007). The role of lesson analysis in pre-service teacher education: An empirical investigation of teacher learning from a virtual videobased field experience. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 10(2), 123-140.

Sherin, M. G., & Han, S. Y. (2004). Teacher learning in the context of a video club. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20(2), 163-183.

Vaismoradi, M., Turunen, H. & Bondas, T. (2013), Content analysis and thematic analysis: Implications for conducting a qualitative descriptive study. Nursing & Health Sciences. doi: 10.1111/nhs.12048

Wang, J. & Hartley, K. (2003). Video technology as a support for teacher education reform. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 11(1), 105-138.  

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: October 04, 2013
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17272, Date Accessed: 11/27/2021 9:14:55 PM

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About the Author
  • Billie Gastic
    Relay Graduate School of Education
    E-mail Author
    BILLIE GASTIC is Director of Research at the Relay Graduate School of Education.
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