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Guidelines for CLASS Video Coding

12 Sep 2016 by Nikki Croasdale

CLASS Video Coding

Conducting CLASS observations via video is valid and acceptable and can be a good fit for many organizations’ needs.

Your first step in conducting observations via video is recording all the footage you need. Chapter 2 of the CLASS Manual includes some recommendations for obtaining video such as preparing students, ensuring that the audio and video are adequately captured for coding, and the usage of tripods and microphones. Be sure to obtain the consent of the adults as well as the children and families of the children who will be on film.

After you've collected the video footage, you have some other important considerations:

Coding the Video with Certified CLASS Observers

You might decide to have members of your organization trained, or you can consult Teachstone’s observer directory to find certified observers outside of your organization. Don't forget to check that your observers are certified on the appropriate age level and are able to understand the languages being spoken in the classrooms they'll be observing.

Regardless of how you've found observers, you should have them calibrate at the start of the project and periodically throughout the project to ensure maintained reliability. 

Sharing Video with Observers

You'll need to come up with a standard process for sharing your collected video with observers. For example, you might choose to use an online video sharing platform (there are a lot more options than YouTube these days!), SD cards, or USB drives. It’s best to do a quality check of at least a portion of the videos before sending them out to be coded.

Setting an Observation Protocol

A clear protocol for observers to follow will ensure fidelity to the CLASS tool and consistency in methodology. It’s important to consider the purpose of your observations and anticipate challenges observers may face. 

Include information about:

  • Length and number of cycles to be coded per video (ex. four 20-minute cycles, three 15-minute cycles, etc.)
  • What information about the cycle should be captured (ex. dimension codes, number of adults/students, content/format of activities, etc.)
  • Criteria for codeable videos
    • You can hear and understand the majority of what the teacher and students are saying.
    • The teacher and students are on-screen for the majority of the time.
    • You can see the teacher’s face at least sometimes.
    • The cycle is at least half of the determined cycle length.
  • Coder tips
    • Only code what you can see. Do not factor interactions happening off-screen into your scoring.
    • Use headphones to improve audio quality.
    • Limit the number of cycles coded in one sitting to prevent coder fatigue.

You might decide to assign videos to observers or implement a “check-out” system. It’s a good idea to double code, or code twice, a subset (10-20% is standard for research) of the videos as a reliability check.

Help Observers Share Data

How should CLASS observers submit their notes and final scores? You might opt to use an online data system like a Google form. Is Internet difficult to access in your area? You may want to work on an Excel spreadsheet template and email completed forms when Internet connectivity is more reliable.

Our online subscription service, myTeachstone, offers you a place to record observation data where coaches can quickly see your notes and then recommend individualized PD based on CLASS scores.  

Use a Score Report Template

Score reports are helpful for those who are providing feedback to teachers. Score reports include information such as a simple background on the CLASS tool, ranges or scores, and notes of specific interactions. Our blog post, “Cookin’ Up a CLASS Score Report,” is a good resource for this.

If you conducted a successful video coding project and have lessons learned to share, we’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!


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