University of Sussex
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The evaluation of a university In-School Teacher Education Project in Science (INSTEP)

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posted on 2023-06-07, 16:04 authored by Brian Marsh
The university In-School Teacher Education Project in Science (INSTEP) used interactive video technologies to enhance initial teacher education programmes for science trainee teachers. With four Internet Protocol1 (IP) cameras and mounted microphones in school laboratories in six partner schools and the university teaching room, trainees and their tutors had access to live interaction with schools. This was a live feed of video and audio material, relayed from the school classrooms and reproduced on interactive whiteboards at the University. Image and sound processing software enabled users remotely to observe school classrooms and focus on particular features of pupil and teacher activity. Cameras and microphones placed at the University allowed links to function in both directions, enabling a variety of two-way interactions between teacher educators and student teachers at the University and teachers in schools. The INSTEP technology did not simply provide a single connection to a remote classroom: it created a number of opportunities for interaction within the teacher education classroom as the student teacher became part of a network of two-way connections enabling powerful and flexible learning experiences. In the course of university-based sessions structured around the contemporaneous observation of remote classrooms through the INSTEP video and audio links, student teachers were able to interact with classroom practitioners, tutors and with their peers. This thesis presents the findings of the internal evaluation of INSTEP aimed at identifying the benefits for trainee teachers. There has been an increase in the use of video material for teacher training purposes. However, trainee teachers are often intimidated by carefully selected extracts featuring experienced teachers. INSTEP activities are live and capitalise on all the opportunities associated with normal classroom practice. Literature points to INSTEP-type activities having the potential to enhance the development of trainees‘ observation skills, develop reflective thinking, to provide authentic illustrations of classroom practice, enable remote observation and facilitate the linking of theory with practice and the coaching of trainees by mentors. A fourth generation model of evaluation was undertaken with primary data generated by part-structured interviews with university tutors and mentors supported by a questionnaire and group interviews with the trainees. The main findings point to INSTEP 1. Facilitating the link between theory and practice; 2. Enhancing and accelerating the professional knowledge of the trainee teachers through enabling reflective practice, facilitating collaborative learning and supporting the development of the language of pedagogy. Additionally there appears to be a number of missed opportunities, e.g. the recording of lessons, the professional development and training of mentors and the use for continuing professional development in schools that may have enhanced the trainee experience further. There are also issues arising from being an insider-researcher that are considered in this work. The research was undertaken in the context of complex relationships including: 1. Being an internal evaluator working closely with an external evaluator; 2. Role and identity duality – particularly with respect to the university tutor team. 1 An Internet protocol camera, or IP camera, is a type of digital video camera that can send and receive data via a computer network and the Internet.


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