Terri Sabol’s Study Finds New Video Tool Predicts Effective Teaching

Terri Sabol’s Study Finds New Video Tool Predicts Effective Teaching

Terri Sabol

In an effort to improve education, how can schools identify the best teacher candidates — and also help classroom teachers improve their skills? A new study by SESP assistant professor Terri Sabol shows that a new video tool has value for teacher hiring and professional development.

In a study of 270 preschool teachers, Sabol and her colleagues found that the Video Assessment of Interaction and Learning (VAIL) could reliably predict teachers’ abilities to identify effective interactions between teachers and students. The teachers with this skill then tended to actually have more effective interactions with students in their classrooms, the study found.

“This tool could be important for helping to train teachers to identify the classroom interactions that matter in the classroom, which has the potential to translate to their own teaching skills,” says Sabol.

The assessment involves having teachers watch video clips of classroom interactions and then explain the strategies that teachers are using in interacting with students. The VAIL focuses on three aspects of teaching: instructional learning formats, quality of feedback, and language and literacy support. All three have important links with children’s development and learning, according to the researchers.

“The VAIL is the first of its kind to use a standardized observational tool of teacher-child interactions, the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), to help teachers organize and categorize the quality of teacher-child interactions,” she adds.

Sabol’s co-researchers on the study were Faiza Jamil of Clemson University and Bridget Hamre and Robert Pianta of the University of Virginia. Their paper was published in the Elementary School Journal.

“There is a need for rigorous assessment tools that can be used to inform teacher development at key junctures,” the researchers say.

As a faculty member in the SESP Human Development and Social Policy Program, Sabol researches the individual and environmental factors that lead to healthy child development, with a particular emphasis on schools and families. She applies developmental theory, psychological measurement and advanced quantitative methods to pressing social policy issues that affect low-income children and families — in particular, improving early childhood education and increasing families’ human capital.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 3/26/15