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Highlights From the TIMSS 1999 Video Study of Eighth-Grade Science Teaching

NCES 2006-017
April 2006

What Can Be Learned From a Video Study of Teaching Across Cultures?

Across cultures, classroom teaching is a complex process aimed at helping students learn. The TIMSS 1999 Video Study is based on the premise that the more educators and researchers can learn about teaching as it is actually practiced across cultures, the more effectively educators can identify factors that might enhance student learning opportunities and, by extension, student achievement. The detailed portraits of what actually happens in mathematics and science classrooms that emerged from the video study can contribute to further research into features of teaching that may influence studentsí learning.

Comparing teaching across cultures has additional advantages:

  • Comparing teaching across cultures allows educators to examine and reflect on their own teaching practices from a fresh perspective.
  • Comparing teaching across cultures can reveal alternative pedagogical approaches and stimulate discussion about the choices being made within a country. Observations of teaching across cultures can stimulate debate about the best approaches for achieving the learning goals defined within a country.

Using national video surveys to study teaching has special advantages:

  • Video enables the detailed examination of complex activities from different points of view, while preserving classroom activity. Videos can be slowed down and viewed multiple times by many people with different kinds of expertise.
  • Collecting a random national sample provides information about students' actual experiences across a range of conditions. The ability to generalize nationally can elevate policy discussions beyond the anecdotal.