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Video Studies

In 1995, the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) included a Videotape Classroom Study. This video study was an international videotape survey of eighth-grade mathematics lessons in Germany, Japan, and the United States. Funded by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the National Science Foundation, the 1995 video study was the first attempt to collect videotaped records of classroom instruction from nationally representative samples of teachers. The study was conducted in a total of 231 classrooms in Germany, Japan, and the United States and used multimedia database technology to manage and analyze the videos.

The Videotape Classroom Study had four goals:

  • To provide a rich source of information regarding what goes on inside eighth-grade mathematics classes in the three countries;
  • To develop objective observational measures of classroom instruction to serve as quantitative indicators, at a national level, of teaching practices in the three countries;
  • To compare actual mathematics teaching methods in the United States and the other countries with those recommended in current reform documents and with teachers’ perceptions of those recommendations;
  • To assess the feasibility of applying videotape methodology in future wider-scale national and international surveys of classroom instructional practices.

For the report on the methods and findings of the Videotape Classroom Study, click here.

Example lessons from the TIMSS 1995 Video Study were made available in the form of video vignettes of six eighth-grade lessons, two each from Germany, Japan, and the United States. These example lessons were taught by teachers who volunteered to be videotaped for the project. The video vignettes were originally made available on a CD-ROM: Video Examples from the TIMSS Videotape Classroom Study: Eighth Grade Mathematics in Germany, Japan, and the United States (NCES 98092). Now they are all available for viewing through the links below.

German Lesson 2: Systems of Equations

After some brief warm-up problems, students and the teacher work collaboratively on solving a complex system of equations: (2y-5)/9=5(x-1)/6-5y and (3x+1)/12=(8/3)(y-2)+33x/2

Part 1 video
Presenting Warm-up Problems
[Begin: 01:01]
The lesson begins with two minutes of quickly paced warm-up exercises. The teacher asks six questions, including "Eight to the third power?", "Twelve percent of one hundred twenty?", and "Five factorial?". Students answer orally, and the teacher confirms the response or asks if others agree.
Part 2 video
Reviewing Previous Material
[Begin: 03:10]
After the warm-up activity, the teacher asks "What have we done lately?" After a student replies that they have studied "equations with two variables," the teacher encourages students to describe the solution methods they have learned. Students respond by identifying the methods of "equating," "substituting," and "adding." The teacher asks them to give examples of how such methods work. With some prodding, students generate a system of equations and illustrate the method while the teacher records their verbal descriptions on the chalkboard. They work on three examples of systems of equations during this review activity, which lasts about seven minutes.
Part 3 video
Posing and Working on the Problem
[Begin: 10:00]
The teacher writes the following system of equations on the chalkboard: (2y-5)/9=5(x-1)/6-5y and (3x+1)/12=(8/3)(y-2)+33x/2. After giving students a minute to think about the problem, he asks for students to volunteer suggestions on how to proceed. Students take turns coming to the board to work on the problem, taking questions and advice from their peers and the teacher. After about ten minutes working together in this way, the teacher asks students to record the partial result in their notebooks and continue solving the problem. He gives them about five minutes to find the solution.
Part 4 video
Sharing the Result
[Begin: 26:13]
The teacher asks students to describe the methods they used to finish the problem. One student suggests the method of addition and the teacher asks her to show her work on the chalkboard. She works at the board on completing the problem with help from the teacher and the other students. She occasionally asks questions of the teacher, and debates points with her peers. She finishes the problem in about six minutes.
Part 5 video
Summarizing the Objective and Assigning Seatwork
[Begin: 33:34]
When the student completes the problem and returns to her seat, the teacher asks the students to summarize what they have learned about solving "complicated problems" like this. The teacher says that the main thing is to think about what method will be best to use for different types of systems. He then assigns a problem from the exercise book. For about seven minutes the students work independently. The teacher monitors their work and occasionally assists individual students until the bell rings ending the lesson.
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