Student Teachers Study Classroom Video As Part Of National Project

Columbus State University is participating in a prestigious national research program that aims to better prepare early childhood education majors for their journey into the classroom.

Sallie Averitt Miller and Bonita Williams, CSU College of Education professors, are participating in a project funded by one of the largest education research grants ever awarded by the National Science Foundation. This project, Case Technologies to Enhance Literacy Learning (CTELL), will compile data from 25 participating schools across the nation, including CSU, to determine the value of the methods tested.

The CTELL program is based on the principle that reading about something and seeing it in action are two different learning strategies. The project incorporates video case studies that capture the theories and methods of teaching reading into the curriculum of the 'Diagnostic and Prescriptive Reading Instruction' course. These methods, discussed in an already rigorous undergraduate class, are presented in the videos so teacher candidates will have seen what they have studied in action before entering a classroom. 'We talk about and study the reading theories and strategies,' said Miller, 'but to watch accomplished teachers successfully implementing the strategies is a valuable learning tool for our teacher candidates.'

Students in the current class are provided with access to case studies over the Internet and on CD that provide diagrams of classroom layouts, interviews with students, parents, teachers and administrators, videos of actual classroom learning and online discussions. The videos, which are designed to be as interactive as possible, allow the students to see what the strategies they are learning about look like in action. The reading strategy of phonemic awareness, the recognition that words are made up of individual sounds, for instance, may be easier for the teacher candidates to grasp after seeing a student in a case study go through that process of recognition. With all of the resources now available to our teacher candidates, from the videos to the field research done as they student-teach, Miller said 'The teacher candidates can read and study about teaching reading, watch accomplished practitioners implement teaching strategies, and practice implementing the strategies in a real classroom setting. The CTELL videos provide an important link in the CSU Early Childhood and Reading Education curriculum.'

The pre-recorded videos present methods that have been proven through academic research to be successful in the classroom, and are so extensive that although there are currently 12 available, Miller anticipates completing two this semester. 'This is a component; i.e., the videos, that has been needed for a while,' said Miller. 'You can talk about learning and teaching theories all day, but until the teacher candidate sees what it looks like, he or she may not fully understand.'

Williams will teach the spring 2003 section of the same course without the videos. The students involved in both the fall course, which utilizes the videos, and the spring course, which does not, will be tested on their pre-course and post-course knowledge of the material to determine if there is a marked improvement with the video case studies. The data from CSU will be compiled with the results from all other participating universities to determine the value of the project as a classroom tool.

Miller hopes that the new program, which she intends to continue after the research concludes, will help teacher candidates feel more comfortable in the classroom. 'This project is, yet, another component in our Early Childhood curriculum that helps to establish a deeper understanding of the reading process and conceptual building of knowledge - this is what really distinguishes our teacher candidates in the classroom,' Miller said.

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Contact: Sallie Averitt Miller, (706) 565-4071; E-mail: miller_sallie@ColumbusState.edu

Writer: Colleen Hesler