Abstract ELT professionals are in a position to investigate methods and techniques that might be incorporated into language teacher education programmes to train teachers more effectively. Video is among the more popular techniques and forms a central component in ELT teacher education. However, there is little empirical evidence on why video is popular in the process of learning teaching. This qualitative study investigates the affordances and constraints of video-mediated microteaching from the perspective of ELT student teachers. The findings suggest that the affordances of incorporating video into microteaching outweigh its constraints. Student teachers acknowledged video as a resource that helped them recall their micro lessons, notice their actions, engage in critical reflection, and map their progression. The only constraint reported was feeling anxious at being recorded. These findings have implications for ELT teacher education programmes in other contexts. Introduction Video enjoys an ever-increasing popularity in ELT teacher education (Farrell 2016). However, there remains the issue of ensuring the credibility of video-based practices through systematic and data-driven inquiry, as their ‘effectiveness is more often assumed than carefully-documented’ (Wang and Hartley 2003: 105). Hence, even though the use of video in ELT teacher education is widespread, little is known with respect to what it is ‘about video that teachers find so appealing, and that teacher educators and researchers, despite mixed research results, continue to value? Why does video remain a central component of training of teachers?’ (Sherin 2004: 2). This study offers insights into the affordances and constraints of incorporating video into microteaching in an ELT teacher education programme from the perspective of student teachers. We propose that an exploration of the affordances of video in teacher education through empirical analysis might provide a wider perspective on how video supports teacher learning. Video-supported teacher education Video has long been a part of teacher education programmes internationally. There are three main types of video recordings used in teacher education: videos of unknown teachers, videos of peers, and videos of one’s own activity. Researchers highlight the mediating role of video in providing valuable input for student teachers by capturing what occurred in real time and enabling repeated viewings of practices (Borko, Jacobs, Eiteljorg, and Pittman 2008). Videos also promote the development of critical awareness in terms of the student teachers’ understanding of the nuances of teaching (Masats and Dooly 2011). For instance, Akcan (2010) analysed ELT student teachers’ reflections on their performance during a practicum after watching the videotaped lessons with their university supervisor. The qualitative analysis indicated that videotaping has the potential to help student teachers become aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and also notice and analyse students’ behaviours and their own teacher talk in detail. Research has also revealed that the use of video in teacher education has some limitations, albeit very few. First, the camera may create some anxiety in the student teachers (Masats and Dooly op.cit.). Second, the unavailability of resources (such as good quality microphones), up-to-date computer systems, and technological facilities (such as an acoustic wall) can be a limitation on implementing video-related tasks (Koc 2011). Some teacher education programmes incorporate video into microteaching. This is a popular teacher training technique that enables student teachers to gain real-time teaching experiences. Recent studies (Gungor 2016; Osmanoglu 2016) demonstrate that, with the help of video, student teachers combine prior knowledge and microteaching experiences to connect theoretical knowledge and the practical applications of this knowledge. Building on Vygostky’s Zone of Proximal Development, McCullagh (2012) coins the term ‘Video supported zone of proximal development’ (VSZPD) to explain how video ‘can ease the process of teacher development’ (ibid.: 137). According to McCullagh, video provides a way into the teachers’ Zones of Proximal Development. Video-supported reflection functions as a key agent in ‘initiating and enriching interaction and communication between teachers’ (ibid.: 145) and widening ‘the focus of reflection from “problems” to “missed opportunities”’ (ibid.: 145). These reflections, in the form of observation, interpretation, and modification of practice, result in the VSZPD. In acknowledging how video supports teacher learning, we must focus on the different types of reflection. In the related literature, there are three reflective directions (Killion and Todnem 1991). The first type is reflection-in-action, which takes place as teaching progresses in the classroom. The second type, reflection-on-action, involves teachers thinking back on teaching practices after they have finished teaching. The former involves knowing-in-action, or tacit knowledge, and usually remains at the subconscious level, whereas the latter involves metacognitive action as it relies on retrospection for analysis. The third type, reflection-for-action, orients reflection towards future practices in order to improve or modify practices. All these types of reflection involve the act of analysing practices to deepen understanding. As the use of video aids two types of reflection (reflection-on-action and reflection-for-action), it has become a useful tool in teacher training (Le Fevre 2004; Akcan op.cit.). As this brief literature review indicates, video is ‘a medium which can be developed into a resource and used in specific ways to enhance learning’ (Le Fevre ibid.: 235), and video-mediated microteaching has the potential to create learning opportunities for student teachers. However, there have been relatively few empirical studies on video-mediated microteaching that present the benefits of teaching experience along with the learning opportunities that arise from using video, especially in ELT teacher education. In an effort to contribute to the empirical evidence on video-mediated microteaching in the field of English language teacher education, we posed the following research question: What opportunities are afforded and constrained by the incorporation of video into microteaching from the perspective of Turkish student teachers of EFL? Methodology Context and participants The study was conducted at a private English-medium university in Istanbul, Turkey, and the participants were from a four-year Bachelor of Arts programme in English Language Teacher Education. The programme included courses that focus on linguistics, literature, and the methodology of teaching a foreign language. The student teachers are trained to teach English at primary/secondary levels in Turkish schools and in higher education institutions. Listening and Speaking in TEFL, Reading and Writing in TEFL, and Grammar in TEFL are the three core methodological courses in Year 3 of the programme. In each of these courses, the student teachers develop a lesson plan for a 20- to 25-minute micro lesson, which they then teach to their classmates. Prior to each micro lesson, student teachers are assigned a specific age and language level as their assumed class profile, which varies during the course of the academic year. At the end of each micro lesson, the student teachers receive instructor and peer oral feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the micro lesson in a 5- to 10-minute feedback session. The micro lessons are videotaped and the student teachers are required to write a reflection paper after they watch their video. A group of 45 third-year student teachers (5 male, 40 female) participated in this study. Their ages ranged from 19 to 25 years old. Except for one of the student teachers, who was a simultaneous bilingual, i.e., learning two languages from birth one of which was English, they were non-native speakers of English. They could be considered moderately proficient in English given that they had all passed the university’s English proficiency test with a minimum score of 60, which is considered equivalent to 75 on the TOEFL-IBT. They were selected through convenience sampling and pseudonyms will be used for each teacher candidate while reporting the results of the study. Data collection Data sources for the study were (a) the reflection papers on the student teachers’ video-recorded microteaching performance and (b) two focus-group interviews conducted between the student teachers and university supervisors. Table 1 shows the data collection tools. table 1 Data collection tools Research tools Total amount of data collected Video-recorded micro lessons 17.3 hours Reflection papers 41.952 words Focus-group interviews 89 minutes Research tools Total amount of data collected Video-recorded micro lessons 17.3 hours Reflection papers 41.952 words Focus-group interviews 89 minutes View Large The authors of this study are the participants’ university supervisors. The student teachers were asked to watch the video recordings of their micro lessons and then write the reflection papers with their observations on their teaching performance. It was clarified to the student teachers that their reflections on the videotaping experience must also include their opinions on the affordances and constraints of the videotaping experience, and the learning experience gained from videotaping. After collecting and reading the reflection reports, we conducted two focus-group interviews with ten student teachers per group, who volunteered to be interviewed, to gain a deeper understanding of the reflections in their papers. The interviews, which lasted 89 minutes in total, were conducted in Turkish to allow participants to better express their perspectives. They were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and translated into English by a professional translator. Data analysis Thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke 2006) enabled us to code the data by recognizing the patterns within the reflection papers and focus-group interview transcriptions. We read the papers and transcriptions closely to gain a general understanding of the data. We then coded the data set to identify initial codes. We reviewed these initial codes and categorized them under themes and sub-themes, presented in Table 2. table 2 The list of codes, sub-themes, and themes Codes Sub-themes Themes Remembering events Resource for recall Affordances Remembering actions Unbiased account of teaching practices Objective representation of oneself Seeing strengths Resource for noticing Seeing weaknesses Becoming aware of mistakes Appreciating feedback Seeing oneself as an outsider Reflecting upon micro lessons Resource for critical reflection Figuring out weaknesses Providing justifications for actions Offering alternatives for previous decisions Multiple viewing Resource for progression Future viewing Evaluation of progress in time Improving future teaching skills Anxiety and tension during microteaching Cause of anxiety Constraint Distractor during microteaching Codes Sub-themes Themes Remembering events Resource for recall Affordances Remembering actions Unbiased account of teaching practices Objective representation of oneself Seeing strengths Resource for noticing Seeing weaknesses Becoming aware of mistakes Appreciating feedback Seeing oneself as an outsider Reflecting upon micro lessons Resource for critical reflection Figuring out weaknesses Providing justifications for actions Offering alternatives for previous decisions Multiple viewing Resource for progression Future viewing Evaluation of progress in time Improving future teaching skills Anxiety and tension during microteaching Cause of anxiety Constraint Distractor during microteaching View Large Table 3 presents the frequency distribution of each theme and sub-theme. We used computer software (Dedoose 7.0.21) to store the qualitative data, count the frequencies, and retrieve excerpts under certain coded themes and sub-themes. table 3 Frequency distribution of themes and sub-themes Themes Sub-themes Frequency Affordances Resource for recall 13 Resource for noticing 172 Resource for critical reflection 30 Resource for progression 50 Constraints Cause of anxiety 9 Themes Sub-themes Frequency Affordances Resource for recall 13 Resource for noticing 172 Resource for critical reflection 30 Resource for progression 50 Constraints Cause of anxiety 9 View Large Credibility of the study Measures were taken to assure the validity and reliability of the present study. We used student teachers’ self-evaluation reports as well as focus-group interviews to enhance internal validity through triangulation. Thus, findings showed a parallelism across all data sets and data sources. The student teachers were assured anonymity and the right to withdraw from the study at any point. Some of the student teachers were asked to read the transcriptions of the focus-group interviews as part of member checking. They agreed with the majority of the conclusions that were drawn from the data. Additionally, as an external check on the content, an expert from the field of teacher education reviewed the questions for the reflection papers. We provided detailed descriptions of the participants, data collection procedures, and analysis to ensure external validity. The researchers worked independently of each other while encoding the data to establish inter-rater reliability. The rate of agreement was .96 when the total number of agreements was divided into number of disagreements plus agreements. It is important to note that a part of the data came from student teachers’ assessed self-evaluation reports. To prevent any potential effect that might harm the data, such as aiming for a mark, we informed the student teachers about our evaluation criteria in detail. Findings and discussion Analysis of the reflection reports and focus-group interviews revealed two themes with respect to the research question for this study: the affordances and the constraints of video-mediated microteaching. The first theme consisted of four sub-themes: video as a resource for recall, a resource for noticing, a resource for critical reflection, and a resource for progression. The second theme comprised only one sub-theme: video as a source of anxiety. We present the themes and sub-themes along with excerpts from the data in the sections below. Affordances ‘Time passes …’: resource for recall Videotaping enabled student teachers to recall incidents in lessons that they had forgotten after the lessons had ended, helping them remember what had happened and how they had acted during the lesson. This makes video a valuable resource for retrospection. More importantly, some student teachers emphasized that the video provided an unbiased account of their teaching and an objective representation of themselves. Almost all student teachers appreciated video as a tool that aided their memory as they had immediately forgotten the details once the micro lesson was over. One teacher candidate stated that she believed she could remember every minute of the micro lesson before she started watching her video, but that the video made her realize that she had forgotten some parts of it. The following comment reflects the role of video as a resource for recall: We would forget. We would forget how we acted or what had happened. Time passes. (Emre, focus-group interview) These findings are consistent with the ideas of McCullagh (op.cit.) and Rosaen, Lundeberg, Cooper, Fritzen, and Terpstra (2008), who advocate that video is more efficient than recalling solely from memory. Video provides an opportunity for evidence-based analysis as it enables student teachers to recall a precise account of what actually happened during their micro lessons in contrast with what they are able to remember by themselves. McCullagh (op.cit.: 145) notes that this opportunity is significant for the development of student teachers: A teacher may be drawn into the VSZPD by the dissonance between what they observe in the video recording and their own memory-based perception of the same event. The realization of this difference constitutes the first step towards development. ‘To see my strengths and weaknesses …’: resource for noticing An important affordance of the video experience that emerged repeatedly during this study was video as a resource for noticing. All student teachers pointed out that the video enabled them to see their strengths and weaknesses. They became aware of their mistakes, even those that they had made unwittingly, during their micro lesson. The things they noticed in their video, as either a strength or a weakness, were: ■ body movements ■ voice ■ instructions ■ teacher talk ■ grammar mistakes ■ activities ■ classroom management ■ emotional state. Another significant affordance of video was that while they appreciated the feedback they received after their sessions, the student teachers were better able to understand their feedback after watching the video. In the context of hearing versus seeing things, they asserted that it was good to hear about their strengths and weaknesses during the feedback sessions, but seeing evidence of them in the video was much more powerful. Moreover, they were able to notice things that were not discussed during the feedback session while watching their videos. Finally, student teachers considered video to be a resource for noticing themselves from another perspective, as outsiders, while the video acted like a mirror: It was also an opportunity to see my strengths and weaknesses and justify the feedback that I had from my teacher and my peers, especially the ones that I refused to accept before. (Ozan, reflection paper) These findings corroborate the association between video-supported reflection and noticing (Rosaen et al. op.cit.), and suggest that employing a pre-service training methodology that incorporates video into microteaching would promote ELT student teachers’ reflection processes. Rosaen et al. (op.cit.: 349) state that ‘explicit noticing is critical to change because if persons do not notice, they cannot choose to act differently’ and that noticing is a key aspect of teacher change (op.cit.: 348). To this end, entering into the VSZPD, which enables noticing, is also crucial for student teachers. ‘I should have …’: resource for critical reflection It was evident in the data that video enabled some student teachers to critically reflect on their micro lessons. Two student teachers explicitly emphasized that video made it possible to make critical reflections by identifying their weaknesses, providing justifications for their actions, and considering alternatives for their previous decisions. They explored what they could have done to rectify their mistakes and how they could improve their micro lessons. In short, an important affordance of video was that it enabled student teachers to engage in critical reflection about the things they noticed during their micro lessons, such as their techniques, management, stages, and teacher talk: I should have allocated a little more time to introducing the fruits, as well. I asked students about some fruits or food that animals eat. As a preparation for this step, I should have prepared colourful pictures or even brought some actual fruits to the classroom. This never occurred to me before I did the microteaching. (Nehir, reflection paper) These results are in line with Loughran’s (2002) suggestion that promoting effective reflective practice in teacher education programmes is crucial for the development of student teachers’ professional knowledge, as reflection offers an opportunity to question assumptions that are taken for granted. It is possible that, as McCullagh (op.cit.: 143) emphasizes in the context of the role of video-supported reflection, ‘viewing of actual account of practice may reveal tacit beliefs and unquestioned assumptions’. His findings also suggest that video helped participants see possible alternatives, which is consistent with the present study. ‘Whenever I want …’: resource for progression Another affordance of video was to see it as a resource for progression. The majority of student teachers reported that they watched their videos multiple times and spotted different things during each viewing, thus getting the opportunity to catch as many details as possible. They saw multiple viewings as an opportunity to correct their mistakes and consequently achieve progress. Interestingly, they also undertook some of these multiple viewings with their families and friends to obtain other opinions. Additionally, they emphasized the significance of the videos being made available in the medium and longer term, since this made future viewing possible. They argued that these videos enabled them to observe themselves over time, spotting differences in their performance and evaluating their progress. Specifically, one teacher candidate mentioned that video allowed him to see the possibility of maintaining a teacher portfolio by compiling a collection of his teaching videos. More importantly, they saw video as an efficient instrument that helped them improve their teaching skills, and as a resource to improve themselves for the next micro lessons in their training. One of the student teachers taught the same lesson to a class she was teaching in a private course after she watched herself on her video and believed that the lesson was more effective. Another teacher candidate stated: And I can watch my video whenever I want. After five years, I can teach the same topic (countable and uncountable nouns) again. And I will be able to see the difference after five years later. (Mete, focus-group interview) Seeing video as a resource for professional development (McCullagh op.cit.; Rosaen et al. op.cit.) and viewing the recording multiple times (Borko et al. op.cit.; McCullagh op.cit.; Sherin op.cit.) with others (McCullagh op.cit.) is consistent with the literature. As postulated by McCullagh (op.cit.), modification of practice is one form of activity within the VSZPD. Video-supported reflection as a tool to measure one’s progress builds ‘the ability to continue to develop professionally on the basis of internally directed learning’ (McCullagh op.cit.:147). For those student teachers who are in the process of creating their professional identity, this is significant given that acquiring the habit of taking responsibility for the development of practical knowledge is linked to being a professional (Bousted 2011 cited in McCullagh op.cit.). Constraint ‘If there were not a camera’: cause of anxiety The only reported constraint of video was that being recorded made a few student teachers anxious at the beginning of the programme. They stated that they were anxious before the recording began, though they forgot about it once their micro lesson started. Similarly, they had some feelings of anxiety before they started watching their video, but these faded away as they were watching it. Batu’s comments illustrate this point: When I came home, the first thing that I did was watch my micro lesson. Before watching it, I thought, ‘so let’s see how bad I’ve done’ or ‘how bad I looked’. However, after watching my video, I was not so negative about myself (for the first time in my life). Since watching myself and hearing my own voice is not one of my favourite things, I actually did not want to watch it at first, but then I decided to watch and my feelings before and after watching the video were totally different. (Batu, reflection paper) Only one teacher candidate made a negative comment and voiced her complaint regarding the video. She argued that video recording affected her performance negatively, and stated: On the other hand, videotaping the microteaching did not help me feel comfortable and confident while teaching the topic even though it was beneficial to see myself as a stranger or from a student’s perspective. I would be much more productive and better at teaching if there were not a camera recording every action of mine. (Melis, reflection paper) Concluding remarks In this study, we attempted to highlight the affordances and constraints of incorporating video into microteaching from the perspective of Turkish student teachers of EFL. The findings revealed that they regarded watching videos of their own micro lessons as an effective tool for engaging in reflection-on-action as well as reflection-for-action, as they were not only able to examine what they did during their micro lessons but also deepen their understanding for future teaching practices. Specifically, student teachers considered video as a resource for recalling their micro lessons, noticing their actions, and engaging in critical reflection, and thus as a resource for their progression. In spite of these affordances, the only constraint, albeit insubstantial in the data, was feeling anxious. The overall picture that emerged here is that video-recorded microteaching is worthy of ELT teacher educators’ attention within the VSZPD as an effective and constructive tool in teacher education (McCullagh op.cit.). The findings of the current study have important implications for ELT teacher education programmes. Considering the affordances of video-mediated microteaching that emerged in this study, we recommend its incorporation into methodology courses within the curriculum of ELT teacher education programmes. Since learning to teach in today’s social context requires several years of training that extends the time taken for initial teacher education, teacher education programmes alone cannot provide student teachers with everything they need to prepare themselves for a challenging career. Thus, both locally and internationally, the focus of such programmes should be on providing student teachers with multiple perspectives, which will encourage them to question their assumptions and utilize multiple ways of working on their pedagogic skills. Based on this argument, providing student teachers with opportunities to reflect on their microteaching through video recordings may lead to ‘explorations of principles, theory and practice, which added more detail on connections between assumptions, beliefs, and lesson planning and their relation to classroom practices’ (Farrell op.cit.: 239). In conclusion, we believe that teacher educators, in Turkey as well as in other international contexts, should consider taking advantage of the affordances offered by video-mediated microteaching. Hande Serdar Tülüce is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language Teacher Education at Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey. She holds a PhD in English Language Education from Boğaziçi University, Turkey. Her current research areas are language teacher education, foreign language teaching methodology, and English as a Lingua Franca. Sevdeğer Çeçen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language Teacher Education at Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey. Her main research interests are language teacher education, explicit and implicit knowledge in second language learning, and English as a Lingua Franca. References Akcan, S. 2010. ‘ Watching teacher candidates watch themselves: reflections on a practicum program in Turkey’. Profile 12/ 1: 33– 45. Borko, H. Jacobs J. 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Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Osmanoglu, A. 2016. ‘ Prospective teachers’ teaching experience: teacher learning through the use of video’. Educational Research 58/ 1: 39– 55. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Rosaen, C. L. Lundeberg M. Cooper M. Fritzen A. Terpstra M.. 2008. ‘ Noticing noticing: how does investigation of video records change how teachers reflect on their experiences?’. Journal of Teacher Education 59/ 4: 347– 60. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Sherin, M. G. 2004. ‘ New perspectives on the role of video in teacher education’ in J. Brophy (ed.). Using Video in Teacher Education . Amsterdam: Elsevier. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Wang, J. and Hartley K.. 2003. ‘ Video technology as a support for teacher education reform’. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education 11/ 1: 105– 38. © The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press; all rights reserved.
ELT Journal – Oxford University Press
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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