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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 The video vignettes were originally made available on a CD-ROM: Video Examples from the TIMSS Videotape Classroom Study: Eighth Grade Mathematics in Germany, Japan, and the United States (NCES 98092).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.

U.S. Lesson 1: Complex Algebraic Expressions

After some warm-up problems, the teacher presents the problem 1/(x - 7) + 1/(x2 - 49) and asks students to find the least common denominator. After explaining the correct way to solve the problem the teacher assigns multiple tasks for seatwork, and students work on their own for the rest of the lesson.

Part 1 video
Presenting and Checking Warm-Up Problems
[Begin: 02:12]
The lesson begins with the teacher asking the students to solve "warm-up" problems displayed on the overhead projector. The problems include finding the largest integer n for which 2 >n! and finding the number of cubic inches in the volume of a rectangular solid if the side, front, and bottom faces have areas of 12 in., 8 in., and 6 in. respectively. Students work on their own, during which time the teacher moves around the classroom helping individual students. After about thirteen minutes the teacher reconvenes the class to share the solutions. The teacher asks students for the answers which she records on the transparency. For the last problem, she asks, "How did you get it?" and the student describes the process.
Part 2 video
Presenting and Discussing Problems
[Begin: 17:18]
The teacher presents the problem 1/(x - 7) + 1/(x2 - 49) on the overhead projector and says to the students, "Yesterday we worked on least common denominators. Try this problem." While the teacher passes out the homework worksheets, the students work on this problem individually. After about one minute, the teacher reconvenes the class to ask for the solution. Some students have difficulty, so the teacher explains each step. She then continues the lesson by presenting a second problem, [5/(x + 6)] - [(2-x)/(x + 6)], and warns students that "this one looks easier but there is a trick to it." Students work individually on the problem for about one and a half minutes. During this time, the teacher moves from desk to desk, checking students' work. When the teacher announces the answer, some students ask for an explanation. The teacher provides a brief explanation by asking students to fill in several steps leading to the answer.
Part 3 video
Assigning Multiple Tasks for Seatwork
[Begin: 23:37]
The teacher says, "For the remainder of the period there are about five things that I would like you to work on in the following order." These include finishing a test, correcting the previous day’s homework, and finishing a worksheet for which a graphing calculator is needed. When these tasks are completed, students are to work on the next day’s homework. The homework requires students to find the Least Common Denominator of rational expressions. Exercises include finding the LCD of 4x and 8x; 3x-6 and 12x-24; and 12, 18 and 30. Students work on these assignments individually as the teacher circulates to assist them. The seatwork activity lasts about twelve minutes. The lesson ends with this activity.
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