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Case Study: Using the CLASS System to Support Teachers in Higher Education

04 Dec 2013 by Vicki Kintner-Duffy

We spend a lot of time at Teachstone thinking about teachers—pre-service teachers just starting to learn about classroom interactions and in-service teachers who have years of experience but are looking for ways to improve their practices. We ask ourselves questions like, “What do teachers need to implement effective interactions in their classrooms?” and “How can we support such behavioral change in teachers?”

In our conversations with teacher educators, we are finding that they ask themselves the same questions. We all want to explore innovative and meaningful ways to help teachers promote children’s learning and development.

Recently, professors at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey shared how they engaged in a pilot project using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System™ (CLASS™) to improve the practice of K-12 teachers in their graduate program. Specifically, they incorporated videotaping and analysis, peer coaching, independent research, and class discussion into their capstone project (a yearlong endeavor). Combining these strategies and the CLASS framework allowed the teachers to:

  • Observe specific interactions and their effects on children
  • Use focus questions to reflect in-depth on their own practice
  • Have ownership over their own learning process and behavioral change
  • Share challenges and successes regarding classroom interactions with other teachers
  • Be affirmed in their use of positive behavior management and effective student engagement
  • Watch themselves improve in their use of instructional dialogue, quality of feedback, and analysis and inquiry

Overall, this project was well received by the teachers and even the Teacher Education Accreditation Council. Though the data is still being analyzed, initial results point to significant increases in teacher effectiveness.

So, what does this mean for your program, courses, and teachers? How can you incorporate the CLASS system into your work? Videos of students? Discussion and reflection around the dimensions? Evaluation of student teachers’ work and learning? Use the comments to let us know.