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Observation in learning to teach: forms of "seeing".

When asked to convey his account of the observation experience during practice teaching, in the context of a university teacher training program in Israel, Sandy, a first year student teacher (teacher candidate), wrote the following entry in his portfolio:

I feel sorry to say that the idea of sitting in a class is not that useful. We have already spent 12 years in school and now when we go to school again we feel that everything is familiar and nothing is really being added ... We have seen teachers for 12 years and now we are exposed to the same situation ... we are not learning or gaining anything new from the teacher.... (Sandy, January, 2004)

Upon first reaction, the above entry might disappoint dis·ap·point  
v. dis·ap·point·ed, dis·ap·point·ing, dis·ap·points
1. To fail to satisfy the hope, desire, or expectation of.

 many of us who strive to create observation contexts and tasks that allow for making meaningful connections between students' perceptions of teaching as former pupils and their new roles as prospective teachers. Moreover, knowing that Sandy's entry was recurrent recurrent /re·cur·rent/ (re-kur´ent) [L. recurrens returning]
1. running back, or toward the source.

2. returning after remissions.

 in other portfolios, and given the fact that it was written in the context of an observation task, his remark raises serious questions about the impact of observation on prospective teachers' sense making of their teaching experience. Put bluntly blunt  
adj. blunt·er, blunt·est
1. Having a dull edge or end; not sharp.

2. Abrupt and often disconcertingly frank in speech:
, if the value of observation for learning to teach were to be assessed by this recurrent entry in student teachers' portfolios, we would probably have to seriously reconsider re·con·sid·er  
v. re·con·sid·ered, re·con·sid·er·ing, re·con·sid·ers
1. To consider again, especially with intent to alter or modify a previous decision.

 its allocation as a component in practice teaching.

Having entertained the possibility of doing away with observation there is, nevertheless, significant evidence to support its value for learning to teach in practice teaching (Buchmann, 1989; Guyton & McIntyre, 1990; Mazor, 2003; Weade & Everston, 1991). The above seemingly seem·ing  
Apparent; ostensible.

Outward appearance; semblance.

seeming·ly adv.
 discrepant dis·crep·ant  
Marked by discrepancy; disagreeing.

[Middle English discrepaunt, from Latin discrep
 attributions (the perceived meaninglessness of the experience of observation as expressed in Sandy's entry and attributions of observation as a meaningful experience) have challenged us to examine, as the title of this paper suggests, how "seeing" in practice can constitute a site for learning to teach. Specifically, our qualitative inquiry Qualitative Inquiry is an bi-monthly academic journal on qualitative research methodology. It focuses on methodological issues raised by qualitative research, rather than the research's content or results. References
  • Publisher's Description
 inquired into the meanings that student teachers attribute to observation in practice teaching, as reflective Refers to light hitting an opaque surface such as a printed page or mirror and bouncing back. See reflective media and reflective LCD.  of their learning from the experience.

Observation as 'Seeing' in the Context of Practice: Theoretical Perspectives

The epistemic ep·i·ste·mic  
Of, relating to, or involving knowledge; cognitive.

[From Greek epistm
 superiority Kessels and Korthagen give to (visual) experience is corroborated cor·rob·o·rate  
tr.v. cor·rob·o·rat·ed, cor·rob·o·rat·ing, cor·rob·o·rates
To strengthen or support with other evidence; make more certain. See Synonyms at confirm.
 by Gilbert Ryle's analysis of seeing as an achievement verb verb, part of speech typically used to indicate an action. English verbs are inflected for person, number, tense and partially for mood; compound verbs formed with auxiliaries (e.g., be, can, have, do, will) provide a distinction of voice.  (Ryle, 1980). The very use of such verbs indicates success...According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 Ryle, verbs like know, discover, solve, prove, perceive, see and observe are, in an important sense, incapable of being qualified by adverbs like erroneously er·ro·ne·ous  
Containing or derived from error; mistaken: erroneous conclusions.

[Middle English, from Latin err
 and incorrectly. (Kvernberk, 2000, p. 360)

The theoretical rationale for the value of observation as integral to learning to teach can be grounded in the above assertion. As Ryle reminds us, seeing in practice is inherently constructive and, as such, it is regarded as a particularly worthwhile learning opportunity in professional learning and in teacher education. Margaret Buchmann's work (1989), for example, reminds us of the potential of seeing as connecting old to new, as student teachers see teaching practices that are already familiar to them during observation. Their sense making from "seeing" such practices is, thus, strongly directed and constructed by their assumptions about teaching, from years of being pupils themselves and watching teachers (Buchmann, 1989). Buchmann's claim finds support in Schon's (1983) argument of the relationship between seeing and knowing: As practitioners bring their repertoire Repertoire may mean Repertory but may also refer to:
  • Repertoire (theatre), a system of theatrical production and performance scheduling
  • Repertoire Records, a German record label specialising in 1960s and 1970s pop and rock reissues
 of past experiences, images, examples, understandings and actions, they are able to 'see' and make sense of new situations.

Kvernbekk (2000) describes this kind of seeing as "seeing as" in practice, defined as identifying similarities and differences between past experiences and new observed situations encountered. "Seeing as" allows practitioners to have a feel for new problems and situations and becomes a form of observation that goes beyond sensory sensory /sen·so·ry/ (sen´sor-e) pertaining to sensation.

1. Of or relating to the senses or sensation.

 perception (Kvernbekk, 2000). Taking a more Aristotelian perspective, Kessels and Korthagen (1996) advocate a view of observation as geared to the development of teachers' practical wisdom through perceptual per·cep·tu·al
Of, based on, or involving perception.
 experiences of concrete particulars. Thus, observation is mostly associated with perceiving in and awareness of a particular situation, leading to appropriate courses of action (p. 359). The job of the teacher educator is, then, to help students observe in order to "see" in the sense of perceptual practical wisdom. This common sense/perceptual mode of observation can be referred to as "seeing in" practice, which is situation specific and guided by students' subjective perceptions of personally relevant classroom situations.

"Seeing in" practice is often contested with the counter argument that it might limit itself to the physical look and characteristics of that which is being observed (Soltis, 1966). As Kvernbekk, quoting Ryle, contends, this kind of seeing in observation might tend to connote con·note  
tr.v. con·not·ed, con·not·ing, con·notes
1. To suggest or imply in addition to literal meaning: "The term 'liberal arts' connotes a certain elevation above utilitarian concerns" 
 with "perception recipes" or knowledge of the look of a thing or simple seeing.

Arguing for the value of conceptual seeing in practice, Kvernbekk (2000) claims that observation is primarily a theory-laden undertaking. Although there is a sense in which we are visually aware of the same thing, any kind of interpretation would be profoundly different because the perceivers bring different knowledge, experiences and theories to the same seeing. Drawing on Hanson's concept of "seeing that" (1958) and following Suppe (1977), Kvernbekk argues that the product of visual observation is a record of what has been seen "to be the case." Observation as "seeing that" in practice is, by nature, influenced by the theories that we accept and are able to observe. Thus, students need to learn to recognize phenomena and become aware of differences between indirect fact perceptions and direct ones, and make judgements accordingly (Kvernbekk, 2000).

The learning value attributed to perceptual and conceptual modes of "seeing" in context, underscore The underscore character (_) is often used to make file, field and variable names more readable when blank spaces are not allowed. For example, NOVEL_1A.DOC, FIRST_NAME and Start_Routine.

(character) underscore - _, ASCII 95.
 their significance as integral to the practice teaching experience (For an outline of the notions of "seeing as" "seeing in" and "seeing that," see Appendix 1). Programmatically Using programming to accomplish a task. , it challenges teacher educators to design observation approaches and activities that allow for associating perceptual experiences with conceptual understandings. From a research perspective, it invites us to inquire in·quire   also en·quire
v. in·quired, in·quir·ing, in·quires

1. To seek information by asking a question: inquired about prices.

 into the nature of student teacher learning as prompted by such observation tasks and activities-the focus of the present study.

Context of the Study: The Teacher Education Program

The teacher education program is a two-year academic program within the Department of Teaching at a major university in the north of Israel. The program offers undergraduate students the possibility to undertake a teaching certificate parallel to their third year of study in their disciplinary area. The participants in the study were 30 junior student teachers, all of which were in their second year of a teacher training bachelor's program.. All student teachers had been exposed to classroom teaching and observation during the practice teaching component of student teaching in the first year. Altogether, students spent one day per week in the classroom for a 5 hour period. It should be mentioned that in the framework of practice teaching, students are expected both to observe lessons and to teach at least eight lessons during the year.

The Observation Task: Perceptual and Conceptual Dimensions of Seeing

The observation task described in this study was given to the group of 30 student teachers of English upon entering practice teaching in their second year of training. Each student was asked to submit ten observation entries throughout the school year. Sandy's entry, quoted at the outset of this paper, was prompted by the observation task which read as follows:
   Observation is an integral component of the practice teaching
   experience. Yet we know very little about what student teachers
   actually learn from the observation experience. Thus, your
   contribution to our understanding of its value is imperative.
   Please, complete the phrases below following the lessons you
   observe. Make sure you mention the grade level you are observing.

   I was surprised to discover ... and I have learned that ...
   I have changes my mind about.... because ...
   I was reinforced to find that ... therefore ...
   I was reminded of.... and that has made me think ...

The above task, framed as open phrases for completion, can be positioned within personalistic and reflective orientations to seeing in practice, stressing personal meaning making and connections between students' perceptual experiences (what they see and discover) and their conceptualizations of such experiences (what they learn, discover and reconstruct re·con·struct  
tr.v. re·con·struct·ed, re·con·struct·ing, re·con·structs
1. To construct again; rebuild.

). The framework of open questions also speaks to observation systems that are context responsive (Weade & Everston 1991, p. 42) and draw on "narrative systems" (Everston & Green, 1986) of recording and documentation. These are open by nature, with no preset preset Cardiac pacing A parameter of a pacemaker that is programmed permanently when manufactured  categories, and aim at detailed description, identification and comparison of observed phenomena, processes, and of generic principles deriving from specific situations (p. 43). Evidence of learning from observation tasks of this type is, thus, personal, emergent emergent /emer·gent/ (e-mer´jent)
1. coming out from a cavity or other part.

2. pertaining to an emergency.


1. coming out from a cavity or other part.

2. coming on suddenly.
, and assessed formatively in relation to the students' self progress.

Acknowledging the open nature of the learning outcomes that would be expected from the personalistic and reflective orientation to the observation task, and drawing on the three interrelated in·ter·re·late  
tr. & intr.v. in·ter·re·lat·ed, in·ter·re·lat·ing, in·ter·re·lates
To place in or come into mutual relationship.

 dimensions of "seeing" (Kverbekk, 2000), our inquiry aimed at identifying evidence of students' learning through the idiosyncratic id·i·o·syn·cra·sy  
n. pl. id·i·o·syn·cra·sies
1. A structural or behavioral characteristic peculiar to an individual or group.

2. A physiological or temperamental peculiarity.

 connections that they exhibited between perceptual and conceptual dimensions of "seeing as," "seeing in," and "seeing that" in their narratives of observation.


Our inquiry focused on the meanings that student teachers attribute to the experience of observation in practice teaching and on how these meanings can be interpreted as learning experiences. Drawing on inductive inductive

1. eliciting a reaction within an organism.


inductive heating
a form of radiofrequency hyperthermia that selectively heats muscle, blood and proteinaceous tissue, sparing fat and air-containing tissues.
, recursive See recursion.

recursive - recursion
 cycles of close interpretative in·ter·pre·ta·tive  
Variant of interpretive.

 readings (Gadamer, 1982), our study examined novices' sense-making of their experience of observation, as exhibited in their entries.

The 10 entries submitted by the 30 student teachers yielded a pool of 300 entries (each around 2 pages long). The narrative entries integrated elaborations of the various stem sentences. These were compiled into 30 files. Each file was read by two independent researchers, to obtain a holistic Holistic
A practice of medicine that focuses on the whole patient, and addresses the social, emotional, and spiritual needs of a patient as well as their physical treatment.

Mentioned in: Aromatherapy, Stress Reduction, Traditional Chinese Medicine
 overview of emergent themes related to students' sense-making of the experience of observation. The independent readings were followed by conversations between the two researchers in order to arrive at a synthesis of common grounded categories of "forms of seeing." These categories pertained to making connections at pedagogical ped·a·gog·ic   also ped·a·gog·i·cal
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of pedagogy.

2. Characterized by pedantic formality: a haughty, pedagogic manner.
, practical and educational levels. The connections identified were: Making assertions, making assumptions, triggering thinking, gaining insights and being reinforced. The grounded categories were identified through the language used by students to describe their learning.

The next stage entailed further verification, extension and refinement of the categories identified. The hermeneutic her·me·neu·tic   also her·me·neu·ti·cal
Interpretive; explanatory.

[Greek herm
 cycles of close interpretative readings entailed recursive processes of formulating conjectures This is an incomplete list of mathematical conjectures. They are divided into four sections, according to their status in 2007.

See also:
  • Erdős conjecture, which lists conjectures of Paul Erdős and his collaborators
  • Unsolved problems in mathematics
 as data was examined and triangulated across and within cases (Patton, 1990). The process yielded the construction of an analytic an·a·lyt·ic or an·a·lyt·i·cal
1. Of or relating to analysis or analytics.

2. Expert in or using analysis, especially one who thinks in a logical manner.

3. Psychoanalytic.
 framework for analyzing the entries at levels of making connections at pedagogical, practical and educational levels of "seeing in observation."

Forms of "Seeing in Observation"

Upon first holistic reading, we identified a strong sense of "not having learned much from observation" as conveyed through the narratives. In-depth content analysis (Patton, 1990), however, surfaced the different forms of seeing elaborated in earlier sections: "Seeing as," "seeing in," and "seeing that." Categories of "seeing as" included insights that were gained and new understandings about teaching and learning that were triggered and articulated ar·tic·u·la·ted
Characterized by or having articulations; jointed.
 as the result of the experience. Categories of "seeing as" included initial understandings, ideas, and suppositions that were supported, discarded dis·card  
v. dis·card·ed, dis·card·ing, dis·cards
1. To throw away; reject.

a. To throw out (a playing card) from one's hand.

, or enriched as a result of observation. Categories of "seeing that" entailed relationships between behaviors assumptions, insights and assertions that were established as a result of observation. Each of these forms of "seeing" alluded to practical (activities, classroom management), educational (roles, values, attitudes, dispositions and relationships), and pedagogical (curricular decisions, lesson organization, rationale for choice of strategy) aspects of teaching. For illustrative il·lus·tra·tive  
Acting or serving as an illustration.

il·lustra·tive·ly adv.

Adj. 1.
 examples of the different forms of 'seeing' identified in the content analysis, see Appendix One.

In the following section we portray por·tray  
tr.v. por·trayed, por·tray·ing, por·trays
1. To depict or represent pictorially; make a picture of.

2. To depict or describe in words.

3. To represent dramatically, as on the stage.
 selected cases which illustrate students' attributions of learning and "no learning" as revealed in their accounts of observation. We first explore illustrative cases of observation as a "no learning experience". We then focus on accounts of observation as "a learning experience."

Observation as a 'No Learning' Experience

Let us return to Sandy's entry at the outset of this article:
   I feel sorry to say that the idea of sitting in a class is not that
   useful. We have already spent 12 years in school and now when we go
   to school again we feel that everything is familiar and nothing is
   really being added ... We have seen teachers for 12 years and now
   we are exposed to the same situation ... we are not learning or
   gaining anything new from the teacher.

The strong sense of not having learned much from the experience of observation, as illustrative in Sandy's account, was predominant pre·dom·i·nant  
1. Having greatest ascendancy, importance, influence, authority, or force. See Synonyms at dominant.

 in many of the students' entries. In particular, this was evident in their accounts of observing teaching situations which, in their eyes, added nothing new to their repertoire of teaching. They also attributed little or no learning value to those activities in which they observed the teacher conducting exams or checking homework-which were regarded by them as activities where no teaching and learning is involved. Following are some examples.

Observing a 12th grade class preparing for their matriculation ma·tric·u·late  
tr. & intr.v. ma·tric·u·lat·ed, ma·tric·u·lat·ing, ma·tric·u·lates
To admit or be admitted into a group, especially a college or university.

 exam, Paul concludes his experience in the following manner: "As a matter of fact, I did not learn anything special from today's observation. However, I liked the good sense of humor Noun 1. sense of humor - the trait of appreciating (and being able to express) the humorous; "she didn't appreciate my humor"; "you can't survive in the army without a sense of humor"
sense of humour, humor, humour
 the teacher had." Similarly, Orit claims that she didn't learn anything because "there was an exam" and there was nothing "new" that she didn't know before. Laila also contends that "nothing was learnt or taught because they [the pupils] were only checking homework." She writes: "I wasn't surprised at anything; nothing made me think or caught my eye that I should report about." Beatrice reports that she "didn't find anything unusual that [she] would like to tell about ... there was nothing 'new' that [she] hadn't t seen before...."

Like Beatrice, but providing a longer narrative account of observing a topic that she had previously been exposed to, Terry writes the following: "I didn't feel I had learned anything new in this lesson because the whole lesson was devoted to grammar practice , the past simple . The teacher wrote down exercises on the board, the pupils copied them and they worked on the exercises individually. The teacher checked the exercises with the pupils. There wasn't any "teaching" in this lesson, it was only practice. In addition, the 'past simple' is something I feel very confident about and I'm sure I can teach this subject properly."

Focusing on a topic that she claims to have already "learned" concerning the teaching of reading, Kari notes: "I didn't feel that I learned anything new in this lesson. I think this is because I understand the teacher's strategy. There was nothing new or unfamiliar to me in this lesson." With a similar focus on observing the teaching of reading, Nurit contends: "I didn't feel I had learned anything from this lesson because it was a lesson on reading comprehension Reading comprehension can be defined as the level of understanding of a passage or text. For normal reading rates (around 200-220 words per minute) an acceptable level of comprehension is above 75%. . I know how to teach this kind of lesson. There was nothing new to me."

The above cases illustrate students' strong sense of "no learning" from those experiences that were seen by them as routines or activities that are part of a teacher's procedural expected repertoire. These were also experiences that did not confront them with any striking discrepancies or gaps between what they said they already knew about teaching and what they saw. Turning to our theoretical perspectives of seeing in practice, these illustrations support what Kvernbekk (2000) (quoting Ryle) defines as "perception recipes," "simple seeing." In stating that they understand the teacher's strategy, that they know how to teach this kind of lesson, or nothing unusual or new happened, students categorized cat·e·go·rize  
tr.v. cat·e·go·rized, cat·e·go·riz·ing, cat·e·go·riz·es
To put into a category or categories; classify.

 the teaching practices "as members of a known class of objects" (Kvernbekk, 2000, p. 360). In doing so, they did not elevate el·e·vate  
tr.v. ele·vat·ed, ele·vat·ing, ele·vates
1. To move (something) to a higher place or position from a lower one; lift.

2. To increase the amplitude, intensity, or volume of.

 their seeing beyond the perceptual level which prevented them from formulating connections at a more conceptual level. This eventually led them to claim that they 'did not learn anything' from their observation.

Observation as a 'Learning' Experience

"Seeing as": Identifying Similarities and Differences

"Seeing as" in observation would suggest that as student teachers make sense of the experience of observation, they engage in identifying similarities and differences between past experiences, images and actions, and the new observed situation (Kvernbekk, 2000). Thus, "seeing as" in practice, goes beyond mere sensory perception, and is directed, recognized and judged by previous experience and knowledge. As the following cases illustrate, examining emergent gaps and discrepancies between known and observed, seemed to have led students to gain new insights both at pedagogical levels of curricular and strategic decisions, as well as at educational levels of re-examination of roles and values.

Eva, for example, gains pedagogical insights as she learns from the discrepancies that she experiences when she observes a grammar lesson--what she sees is discordant dis·cor·dant  
1. Not being in accord; conflicting.

2. Disagreeable in sound; harsh or dissonant.

 with her view about teaching and learning grammar. Eva believes that pupils don't like grammar lessons: "I asked the teacher whether she enjoys teaching grammar or not, because it seemed to me that pupils hate it." Eva is surprised to learn from the teacher that her pupils enjoy learning grammar: "I was surprised to find out, that the pupils did enjoy studying grammar, even more than something else!" This leads her to seek explanations for the discrepancies on the grounds of what she sees in practice: "Apparently, grammar is easier for them, because it is structured and governed gov·ern  
v. gov·erned, gov·ern·ing, gov·erns
1. To make and administer the public policy and affairs of; exercise sovereign authority in.

 by rules. The pupils are given a formula and they just have to work according to it. The process does not require much thinking. They have to apply the rules and this is done automatically after some practice." "Seeing as" in observation, thus, made Eva restructure her pedagogical conception about teaching and learning grammar: "The teacher was right. I have changed my mind about pupils and grammar."

Examining similarities and differences between educational agendas and roles, Elena's experience of observation confronts her with an educational conflict: She was "amazed a·maze  
v. a·mazed, a·maz·ing, a·maz·es
1. To affect with great wonder; astonish. See Synonyms at surprise.

2. Obsolete To bewilder; perplex.

 to see" that "when the principal of the school came into the teachers' room to announce something, no one paid any attention to him or to what he was saying." Elena, who is a newcomer to the country, 'sees' the experience 'as' counter to her own cultural values and upbringing up·bring·ing  
The rearing and training received during childhood.


the education of a person during his or her formative years

Noun 1.
. As she tries to make sense of what she sees, she explains: "How can you expect pupils to respect you as a person and as a teacher if you yourself do not respect others while being an adult and a teacher?" Her question unveils the strong educational views that she holds about the teacher as role model on the one hand, and how these collide col·lide  
intr.v. col·lid·ed, col·lid·ing, col·lides
1. To come together with violent, direct impact.

 with what she 'sees', on the other hand. In fact, Elena devotes a major section of her entries to value-laden educational issues. In another entry she is disturbed by the "lack of respect," this time, from the pupils towards their teachers: "I was surprised to see that pupils treat teachers with lack of respect as if we were their peers." Elena's "seeing" surfaces her implicit educational principles about the teacher-pupil relationship: By her own codes of behavior, treating a teacher like a friend is considered disrespectful dis·re·spect·ful  
Having or exhibiting a lack of respect; rude and discourteous.

. Confronting gaps as she examines differences and similarities, leads her to articulate articulate /ar·tic·u·late/ (ahr-tik´u-lat)
1. to pronounce clearly and distinctly.

2. to make speech sounds by manipulation of the vocal organs.

3. to express in coherent verbal form.

 her vision of what it means to become a teacher: "For me, becoming a teacher always meant something more than just a place of work or something I do because I have to...." Indeed, the gap that she 'sees' between her educational principles and the incidents that she observed has quite a strong impact on her, leading her to ponder Ponder - A non-strict polymorphic, functional language by Jon Fairbairn <>.

Ponder's type system is unusual. It is more powerful than the Hindley-Milner type system used by ML and Miranda and extended by Haskell.
 about her future as a teacher: "I do hope it [the experience of observation] won't stop me from doing what I love...."

From a more practical standpoint The Standpoint is a newspaper published in the British Virgin Islands. It was originally published under the name Pennysaver, largely as a shopping-coupon promotional newspaper, but since emerged as one of the most influential sources of journalism in the , Sami attributes 'learning' from observation when he feels that the observed lesson helps him make practical connections between what he knows and what he sees: Reporting on an activity the teacher uses to teach 'Wh questions', he is encouraged to see how a strategy he had learned during his training is implemented in a real classroom: "the teacher asked the pupils to write a dialogue using 10 questions...this reminded me of what we learned about dialogues, that they are a good way for practicing the interrogative form, it is more challenging and stimulates thinking... I am happy to see how it works in the classroom."

In general, we noticed that learning from observation was strongly shaped by the opportunities that students identify for drawing similarities and differences between "known in theory" and "observed in action."

"Seeing in": Developing Practical Wisdom

Observation as 'seeing in' associates with the perceptual, practical wisdom gained by student teachers as they observe particular, concrete, classroom situations. 'Seeing in' differs from 'seeing as' in that the former is linked with perceiving, becoming aware, and articulating assertions and new courses of action related to a particular situation observed. By nature of their survival novice stage, student teachers are strongly concerned with the practical, managerial aspects of teaching at their initial stages of training. As the following cases show, "seeing in" was reflected in the insights that students claimed to have gained at these practical levels of activities and classroom behavior.

Consider Irena's case. Focusing on the teacher's actions in the classroom, Irena gains fresh practical insights about the teacher's role in introducing new language: "... in order to practice new vocabulary taught, the teacher does not necessarily have to be in control all the time. In doing a communicative com·mu·ni·ca·tive  
1. Inclined to communicate readily; talkative.

2. Of or relating to communication.

 task to practice the new words learned in the previous lesson, I noticed that the teacher stood aside and helped only when a pupil asked for help when he was not sure about a particular word, for example." Irena is surprised to discover that "when pupils are rendered autonomy they do not consider it as threatening." She further explains the new insight gained by asserting that "when pupils are given the option to choose the subject they are much more motivated mo·ti·vate  
tr.v. mo·ti·vat·ed, mo·ti·vat·ing, mo·ti·vates
To provide with an incentive; move to action; impel.

...." While initially she had thought that autonomy was threatening, she now realizes that pupils might be more motivated to learn if they are rendered the freedom of choice. Irena's observation enabled her to identify gaps between prior conceptions and observed behaviors and establish new links between them, to articulate a rationale for the pupils' and the teacher's action, and formulate formulate /for·mu·late/ (for´mu-lat)
1. to state in the form of a formula.

2. to prepare in accordance with a prescribed or specified method.
 an educational and pedagogical principle about autonomy and motivation.

Ruth observes how teamwork (product, software, tool) Teamwork - A SASD tool from Sterling Software, formerly CADRE Technologies, which supports the Shlaer/Mellor Object-Oriented method and the Yourdon-DeMarco, Hatley-Pirbhai, Constantine and Buhr notations.  is organized in an eleventh grade This article or section deals primarily with the United States and Canada and does not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
Please [ improve this article] or discuss the issue on the talk page.
 class: "The pupils in this class work on a new project in which they have to work in groups. Each group has to write a detailed essay about 'Humor.' "Her observation triggers the articulation articulation

In phonetics, the shaping of the vocal tract (larynx, pharynx, and oral and nasal cavities) by positioning mobile organs (such as the tongue) relative to other parts that may be rigid (such as the hard palate) and thus modifying the airstream to produce speech
 of an assertion about the assets of group work : "... I have learned that working in groups enables the pupils to express themselves, and also collaborate as members in a team...." "Seeing in" reinforces her initial perception of teamwork as a strategy in her classroom: "I always thought that teamwork is a successful teaching-learning strategy...." It also triggers prior observations of team work in other classes "I was reminded of my other practicing school where the teacher also used teamwork," leading her to begin elaborating a practical insight about team work: "if structured properly, team work can be especially beneficial for improving pupils' oral skills and proficiency pro·fi·cien·cy  
n. pl. pro·fi·cien·cies
The state or quality of being proficient; competence.

Noun 1. proficiency - the quality of having great facility and competence
 in general."

The above examples illustrate experiences of "seeing in" as they translate into formulations of practical and pedagogical insights and ideas about the use of particular strategies and curricular activities. Some of these insights were often integrated with theoretical understandings, leading to tentative tentative,
adj not final or definite, such as an experimental or clinical finding that has not been validated.
 conceptual assertions of certain observed behaviors as illustrative of a larger series of cases. We regard these as cases of "seeing that" in observation.

"Seeing that": Interpreting beyond the Particular Case

Observation as "seeing that" in practice attends to the value of conceptual seeing or of visual observation as a record of what has been seen 'to be the case' (Kvernbekk, 2000). As such, "seeing that" is mediated me·di·ate  
v. me·di·at·ed, me·di·at·ing, me·di·ates
1. To resolve or settle (differences) by working with all the conflicting parties:
 by the theoretical, conceptual frameworks For the concept in aesthetics and art criticism, see .

A conceptual framework is used in research to outline possible courses of action or to present a preferred approach to a system analysis project.
 that students bring to observation, leading to new connections between the conceptual and the perceptual. "Seeing that" is, thus, regarded as a more sophisticated form of seeing, one which widens perspectives to interpret particular observed behaviours as cases of wider phenomena, leading to making judgements accordingly (Kvernbekk, 2000). The need to encourage students to move from perceptual to conceptual learning is strongly grounded in the literature of reflective practice in teacher education. In learning to become a reflective teacher, prospective teachers are expected to acquire competencies that transcend technical thinking about 'what to do in the classroom' and engage in establishing relevant connections between theory and practice through reflective tasks (Feiman-Nemser, 2001). In the process, they would learn to become attentive at·ten·tive  
1. Giving care or attention; watchful: attentive to detail.

2. Marked by or offering devoted and assiduous attention to the pleasure or comfort of others.
 to practical, ethical, critical, and transformational aspects of the experience of learning to teach, to construct more informed and integrative understandings about their roles and practices (Bullough & Knowles, 1992; Eisner & Powell, 2002; Feiman-Nemser, 2001; Orland-Barak & Yinon, 2007; Van Manen, 1991).

Notice, for example, Hagar's elaboration of the teacher's curricular choices: "This teacher uses a good book which all the students have, but most of the time she only gives them activities from the book." Hagar's conjecture CONJECTURE. Conjectures are ideas or notions founded on probabilities without any demonstration of their truth. Mascardus has defined conjecture: "rationable vestigium latentis veritatis, unde nascitur opinio sapientis;" or a slight degree of credence arising from evidence too weak or too  is that "it must be easier for the teacher to follow the book." Reflecting on the situation and linking it to theoretical notions of diversity in teaching, she articulates a pedagogical concern: "... given the importance of diversifying teaching methods and its connection to what we know about enhancing pupil motivation, it makes me wonder whether it would be more pedagogically ped·a·gog·ic   also ped·a·gog·i·cal
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of pedagogy.

2. Characterized by pedantic formality: a haughty, pedagogic manner.
 appropriate for the students, to be exposed to material beyond the book every now and then, or is it better for them to follow the organized and logical sequence of the book?"

We also identified a few assertions that evidenced students' revised theoretical conceptions about pedagogical strategies, educational roles and dispositions as a result of observation. Notice, for example, Nurit's account of the teacher's behavior while giving instructions: "The class was supposed to write a quiz A quiz is a form of game or mind sport in which the players (as individuals or in teams) attempt to answer questions correctly. Quizzes are also brief assessments used in education and similar fields to measure growth in knowledge, abilities, and/or skills.  on parts of speech. As we have learned, giving clear and concise instructions is crucial to the success of the task, yet the teacher started giving instructions which were so vague and incoherent that students started shouting and complaining that they did not understand what she wanted from them." Drawing on what she has learned, Nurit expects an experienced teacher to be competent in managing explanations and instructions. She is, therefore, confronted with a situation that is somehow dissonant dis·so·nant  
1. Harsh and inharmonious in sound; discordant.

2. Being at variance; disagreeing.

3. Music Constituting or producing a dissonance.
 to what she would envision. This is further reinforced as she continues her account: "Suddenly the teacher changed the task completely and asked for something else. This was still not clear ... I asked the teacher how come she did not manage to explain clearly what she wanted the pupils to do (for the quiz). The teacher replied that she herself didn't know what to require. She thought about a simple dictation but all of a sudden changed her mind...."

As she reflects on the gaps that she perceives between what she knows about experienced teachers' behavior and what she sees in action, she interprets and judges the particular observed situation as a case of "lack of professional responsibility." She further connects the experience to personal beliefs and theoretical understandings, contending that "It seems that it is not enough to master a large repertoire of ideas, activities and innovative teaching methods. Expertise is not just knowing what to choose as the right activity at the right time or even be able to pull out the right strategy automatically. It is not that Dina [the observed teacher] does not know how to give instructions. I think it is just that she does not care enough to be prepared ... I learned that true expertise has also to do with values, care and educational and professional integrity and responsibility."

The above cases speak to Kvernbekk's (2000) view of observation as being, by and large, conceptually driven. Identifying gaps and experiencing perplexity perplexity - The geometric mean of the number of words which may follow any given word for a certain lexicon and grammar.  engaged both, Nurit and Hagar, in going 'beyond the perceptual,' as they connected between theoretical frameworks and personal experiences. This transformed 'simple seeing' into 'conceptual seeing,' or 'seeing that.'

The above illustrative cases of "seeing as," "seeing in," and "seeing that," illustrate how some students learned as a result of surfacing gaps between 'envisioned' and 'observed.' In their accounts of these experiences they made judgments, articulated educational assertions, gained new understandings, formulated for·mu·late  
tr.v. for·mu·lat·ed, for·mu·lat·ing, for·mu·lates
a. To state as or reduce to a formula.

b. To express in systematic terms or concepts.

 educational principles, drew educational implications and began articulating new, personal theories of teaching and learning.

Observation as a Site for Learning: Putting it All Together

Our analysis of student teachers' entries yielded a challenging finding: When relating holistically to the entire experience of observation, student teachers were inclined to attribute little learning value to the experience of observation. However, content analysis of students' entries revealed that despite their negative expressed attributions, they also exhibited evidence of learning at multifaceted mul·ti·fac·et·ed  
Having many facets or aspects. See Synonyms at versatile.

Adj. 1. multifaceted - having many aspects; "a many-sided subject"; "a multifaceted undertaking"; "multifarious interests"; "the multifarious
 practical, pedagogical and educational levels. This evidence suggested that observation, indeed, constituted a site for making assumptions, for taking a stance, for articulating new insights, for triggering connections in teaching and learning, and for confronting educational beliefs.

How do we, then, make sense of the considerable discrepancy DISCREPANCY. A difference between one thing and another, between one writing and another; a variance. (q.v.)
     2. Discrepancies are material and immaterial.
 between students' expressed meaninglessness from the experience, and the learning outcomes evidenced in their observation tasks? To address this challenge, we turn to two interrelated themes in learning to teach: Novices' learning from practice teaching and approaches to observation as shaping processes and outcomes of learning.

Novice's Learning from Observation

Student teachers hold high expectations from their practice teaching experience (Guyton & McIntyre, 1990; Author, 2007). Students' strong perceptions of the fundamentality of practice teaching for learning to teach challenge us, teacher educators, to constantly examine the structure of our practice teaching component as a setting for learning. Very often, although observation is traditionally regarded as a crucial aspect of the practical component, it is not always consonant consonant

Any speech sound characterized by an articulation in which a closure or narrowing of the vocal tract completely or partially blocks the flow of air; also, any letter or symbol representing such a sound.
 with student teachers' perceptions of its potential benefits. For example, very often students write that there was 'nothing new' in the lesson observed and therefore did not learn much. What lies behind that assertion? Consonant with their novice stage, they are worried that nothing 'special' 'challenging' or 'surprising' occurred during the lesson to make it a valued learning experience. But this does not imply that students are not learning, because repetitive experiences may be activities through which teachers learn implicitly (Eraut, 2004).

Furthermore, what students often perceive as "no observed real teaching" is rooted in their rigid thinking as novices preoccupied pre·oc·cu·pied  
a. Absorbed in thought; engrossed.

b. Excessively concerned with something; distracted.

2. Formerly or already occupied.

 with performance. Thus, "seeing" devoid de·void  
Completely lacking; destitute or empty: a novel devoid of wit and inventiveness.

[Middle English, past participle of devoiden,
 of any personal involvement in the action itself (i.e., actual teaching) becomes a rather tricky Adrian Thaws (born January 27, 1968), better known as Tricky, is an English rapper and musician important in the trip hop and British music scene (despite loathing the "trip hop" tag). He is noted for a whispering lyrical style that is half-rapped, half-sung.  opportunity for promoting novices' learning. This might explain student teachers' frequent expressed sense of uselessness of the observation component in practice teaching, as conveyed in many entries.

Helping Students 'To See Beyond'

Sandy's final exclamation mark (character) exclamation mark - The character "!" with ASCII code 33.

Common names: bang; pling; excl (/eks'kl/); shriek; ITU-T: exclamation mark, exclamation point (US). Rare: factorial; exclam; smash; cuss; boing; yell; wow; hey; wham; eureka; soldier; INTERCAL: spark-spot.
 note: "I think you need to teach us how to observe!" urges us to consider Kessels and Korthagen's assertion that it is important to prepare students with the necessary competencies (1996) for "seeing in practice." Furthermore, as Kvernbekk (2000) would contend, we should be "helping them learn to see beyond what everyone sees; to widen wid·en  
tr. & intr.v. wid·ened, wid·en·ing, wid·ens
To make or become wide or wider.

widen·er n.
 their vision and make it more flexible through seeing with theory" because "seeing is ...learned in practice" (pp. 369-370).

What can teacher education programs do to help students see in practice? The findings of our study point to several directions. For one, the finding that students learned from those observed situations in which they encountered gaps, discrepancies, and dissonance between the envisioned and the observed suggests the need to structure observation tasks that encourage students both to identify gaps as well as to articulate how surfacing these gaps contributed to their learning. To address this dimension we suggest maintaining the use of prompts for structuring observation. We extend, however, their scope by including a more guided framework of questions for identifying a particularly meaningful gap during observation, encouraging students to explain what they have learned from the experience. For example, the prompt I was surprised to discover that...because I had initially thought that...could be further developed through questions such as: How do you explain this change in the way you see it now? What led you to see things differently? Other examples would include:
   I have identified a gap between what I knew about.... and what I
   saw ... This is important for me because ... The gaps that I have
   identified have led me to think differently about ... The gaps that
   I have identified have led me to act differently (for example) ...

In addition, our findings also imply a need to develop more contextualized questions for each student according to the idiosyncratic features of the context of observation. Such questions would push for identifying different and/or similar kinds of gaps in various observed scenarios of classes, teachers and pupils (Guillaume & Rudney, 1993; Grossman, Smagorinsky & Valencia, 1999). For example, Nurit could be encouraged to systematically explore how the inconsistencies that she experienced between her belief about professional integrity and her perception of lack of responsibility plays out in other classes. How does her initial assumption evolve as she moves from class to class? What observed behaviors remain the same? And, how do different observations of classes extend her understanding of the notion of professional responsibility?. In a way, we are suggesting that, in addition to a common content core of tasks, the observation component in teacher education be treated differentially, to allow space for attending to the specific experiences that emerge in each context and for each student (Cochran-Smith & Zeichner, 2005; Darling-Hammond, 2006; McKenna, 1997; Tillema & Smith, 2000; Wang , 2000).

The different forms of "seeing as," "seeing in," and "seeing that" identified in the study suggest the need to help students to make connections between the different forms of seeing, in an effort to conceptualize con·cep·tu·al·ize  
v. con·cep·tu·al·ized, con·cep·tu·al·iz·ing, con·cep·tu·al·iz·es
To form a concept or concepts of, and especially to interpret in a conceptual way:
 experience at higher levels of "seeing that." Specifically, we propose thinking of questions that challenge the articulation of insights about the uniqueness of a particular observed context (seeing in) alongside similarities and differences across contexts (seeing as); in an effort to encourage student teachers to conceptualize these articulated insights as 'cases of' (Shulman, 1986) or "seeing that." Providing students with questions that raise their awareness of the learning value of dissonant experiences, might help them to distinguish the learning potential intrinsic intrinsic /in·trin·sic/ (in-trin´sik) situated entirely within or pertaining exclusively to a part.

1. Of or relating to the essential nature of a thing.

 in the multidimensional mul·ti·di·men·sion·al  
Of, relating to, or having several dimensions.

, simultaneous, immediate and unpredictable teaching reality (Doyle, 1977) of the classroom situations they observe, which they often fail to see as meaningful experiences.

Observation as Participation: Beyond Personal Reflective Approaches

Extending our initial task to include the above elements, challenges the highly individualistic in·di·vid·u·al·ist  
1. One that asserts individuality by independence of thought and action.

2. An advocate of individualism.

 reflective nature that characterized char·ac·ter·ize  
tr.v. character·ized, character·iz·ing, character·iz·es
1. To describe the qualities or peculiarities of: characterized the warden as ruthless.

 our observation task, devoid of dialogical di·a·log·ic   also di·a·log·i·cal
Of, relating to, or written in dialogue.

 opportunities for systematic problematizing and articulation of evolving insights from observation. This would imply an approach to observation as enmeshed en·mesh   also im·mesh
tr.v. en·meshed, en·mesh·ing, en·mesh·es
To entangle, involve, or catch in or as if in a mesh. See Synonyms at catch.
 in the action itself, engaging both the teacher and the student teacher in reciprocal Bilateral; two-sided; mutual; interchanged.

Reciprocal obligations are duties owed by one individual to another and vice versa. A reciprocal contract is one in which the parties enter into mutual agreements.
 dialogue and scrutiny of both the student teachers' observations of teaching and their mentor Mentor, in Greek mythology
Mentor (mĕn`tər, –tôr'), in Greek mythology, friend of Odysseus and tutor of Telemachus.
 teachers' observations of their own teaching (Bruner, 1986; Engestrom, 2001; Karon, 1995; Semeniuk & Worrall, 2000; Yerushalmi & Karon, 1999). Practically, this would imply designing tasks and activities that trigger dialogues between the mentor and the student teacher.

More than a decade ago Weade & Everstone (1991) contended that questions about what can be learned from observation had never been more timely or consequential con·se·quen·tial  
1. Following as an effect, result, or conclusion; consequent.

2. Having important consequences; significant:
. They also reminded us that "charting new directions for observation, however, is like honing Honing could refer to
  • Improving surface finish & geometry using a Hone
  • the practice of sharpening
  • Honing, Norfolk
 a double edged sword. Explorations of what can be learned by looking also reveal the limits of looking. But both kinds of knowledge contribute to understand of what it means to observe and the ways observation can contribute to the improvement of schooling" (p. 37). A decade later, Weade and Everstone's contention still seems to hold true. We know very little about how observation as a context for learning advances student teachers' professional knowledge development. Sandy's request to "teach them how to observe" corroborates a well established argument: When observation is conducted for observation's sake only, it is unfortunately reduced to little more than random or accidental perception (p. 39).

The findings of our study encourage us to further explore this argument regarding conditions for learning from observation. They challenge us to put to test new programmatic pro·gram·mat·ic  
1. Of, relating to, or having a program.

2. Following an overall plan or schedule: a step-by-step, programmatic approach to problem solving.

 routes in our teacher education programs to transform experiences that are often perceived by student teachers as of little learning value into meaningful opportunities for making new sense of learning to teach.
Appendix One: Emergent Themes of 'Seeing in Observation'

Forms of          Definition        Practical         Example
'seeing'                            pedagogical       statements
                                    and educational

'Seeing as':      Identifying       Being             The lesson was
Identifying       similarities      reinforced        about
similarities      and differences   about initial     conditional
and differences   between past      ideas and         sentences. This
                  experiences,      suppositions      reminded me of
                  images and        about teaching    my pedagogical
                  actions, and      and learning.     grammar course
                  the new           Discarding and    where we
                  observed          enriching         learned about
                  situation.        insights about    Six Types of
                                    teaching and      conditionals. I
                                    learning as a     think that it
                                    result of         is good to
                                    observation.      teach the
                                                      students these
                                                      structures. I
                                                      have learned
                                                      that this topic
                                                      (child abuse
                                                      can be taught
                                                      at this level,
                                                      previously I
                                                      discarded it as
                                                      for this age

'Seeing in':      Perceptual,       Connecting        I learned that
Developing        practical         perceptual        unexpected
practical         wisdom gained     experience to     things may
wisdom            while observing   concrete          happen to
                  particular,       behavior and      teachers in
                  concrete,         courses of        class, and that
                  classroom         action in a       lessons don't
                  situations.       lesson,           always go
                  Insights gained                     according to
                  about                               plan.
                  activities and                      Therefore,
                  classroom                           teachers should
                  behavior.                           always have an
                                                      lesson plan.
                                                      Whenever the
                                                      teacher uses
                                                      the 'sun of
                                                      technique to
                                                      introduce new
                                                      vocabulary, the
                                                      pupils remember
                                                      the words
                                                      Therefore, I
                                                      think it is a
                                                      very good
                                                      technique for
                                                      the long term
                                                      memory of the

'Seeing that':    Understanding     Gaining new       When the
Interpreting      observation       insights,         teacher gave
beyond a          experiences as    triggering and    positive
particular        a record of       articulating      reinforcement,
case.             what has been     new               the pupils were
                  seen to be the    understandings    motivated to
                  case. Widening    about teaching    listen and
                  perspectives to   and learning.     participate. I
                  interpret         Establishing      learned that
                  concrete          relations         the teacher's
                  behavior as       between           role is not
                  cases of wider    concrete          only to teach
                  phenomena.        classroom         but also to be
                  Making            behavior,         aware of
                  judgments         educational and   pupils'
                  accordingly.      pedagogical       behaviors and
                                    assumptions,      feelings. I was
                                    insights, and     surprised to
                                    assertions.       find out that
                                                      exactly the
                                                      same lesson can
                                                      work for one
                                                      class and
                                                      completely fail
                                                      for another.


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Lily lily, common name for the Liliaceae, a plant family numbering several thousand species of as many as 300 genera, widely distributed over the earth and particularly abundant in warm temperate and tropical regions.  Orland-Barak is a professor and head of the Department of Learning, Instruction, and Teacher Education with the Faculty of Education at the University of Haifa About 16,500 undergraduate and graduate students study in the university a wide variety of topics, specializing in social sciences, humanities, law and education. The University is broadly divided into six Faculties: Humanities, Social Sciences, Law, Science and Science Education, Social , Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel. Shosh Leshem is head of teacher education at Oranim Academic College of Education, Tivon, Israel, and lecturer in the Department of Learning, Instruction, and Teacher Education at the University of Haifa.
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Date:Jun 22, 2009
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