Elizabeth van Es (PhD04) Wins Knowles Fellowship

Elizabeth van Es (PhD04) Wins Knowles Fellowship

Elizabeth van Es, a 2004 graduate of SESP's Learning Sciences doctoral program, is one of four scholars in the nation selected to receive the 2008 Knowles Science Teaching Foundation Young Scholars Fellowship. Currently van Es is an assistant professor of education at the University of California - Irvine.

She has been awarded $110,000 over two years for her project titled "What Do You Notice: Understanding the Nature and Development of Pre-Service Teachers' Professional Vision for Reform Teaching." The fellowship, designed to support early career scholars in research critical to high school science and mathematics teaching, is a program of Knowles Science Teaching Foundation.

The project van Es proposed builds on her work at Northwestern with associate professor Miriam Sherin studying elementary mathematics teacher learning in a video club. Her new study will investigate how to design learning environments to help future secondary mathematics teachers "learn to notice" student mathematical thinking and learn to learn from observing teaching. She will continue to investigate ways that video records of teaching can help pre-service teachers learn to analyze teaching and learning.

"Pre-service teachers spend extensive amounts of time in schools observing teachers, yet they do not know what to pay attention to or how to make sense of what they see in classrooms. Fundamentally, they need to be trained to observe the practice of teaching in meaningful, productive ways," says van Es. "Further, the pre-service context is the time for future teachers to develop the critical skill of noticing, precisely because once they being teaching, they will have few, if any, opportunities to develop these skills in a systematic way. Finally, … they have few opportunities to analyze innovative teaching in mathematics classrooms."

In response, van Es will design a course entitled Learning to Learn from Teaching that will use video records of classrooms to help future secondary mathematics teachers learn to observe and analyze teaching -- what she calls learning to notice. "Video can represent much of the complexity of teaching, as well as the kind of teaching envisioned by mathematics education reform. It can also be reviewed, allowing teachers to gain a deeper insight into important teaching and learning issues," says van Es.

Her study seeks to answer two central questions: a) What is the nature of pre-service teacher noticing and how does it develop over time? and b) When pre-service teachers are provided with a model for learning to notice, how does this help them learn to observe and analyze mathematics teaching and student learning?

The focus of van Es's project will be on studying the development of pre-service teacher noticing in the video-based course. She will also follow the pre-service teachers throughout the course of their teacher credential program and examine the development of their "noticing." Finally, she will conduct interviews with the candidates in their first year of teaching to examine the nature of their noticing once they begin teaching.
By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 8/14/09