Study of the effects on teachers' educational practices and student writing skills of a training device for the teaching of modern grammar that incorporates videos of teaching practices and allows the sharing of expertise

In-service training for the teaching of modern grammar poses a number of challenges.

Teachers must first acquire new knowledge and develop new educational practices that promote the construction of knowledge, along with related gestures. They must then learn to observe new indicators in the student learning process and master a set of grammatical examples and counter-examples allowing them to seize learning opportunities and perceive the effect of the changes on the learning process and on students' writing ability.

Drawing on the Shulman and Shulman model, we developed and implemented a professional development device able to simultaneously support the development of four dimensions: vision of teaching and learning, knowledge (disciplinary, pedagogical and didactic), educational practices (including related gestures) and engagement in this professional learning process. This device, called a video club, is based on the analysis of video recordings of examples of teaching practices. It builds on critical reflection to increase the interdependence of these four dimensions.

This research has helped us to better understand the complexity of the professional learning process and how it develops over time.

Several recent meta-analyses show that short training courses have little effect on classroom practices and student learning. For that reason, a video club holds monthly meetings dedicated to analyzing teaching practices over a period of one year or more, together with knowledge acquisition activities, with the objective of transposition to the classroom.

For this research project, we formed three groups of 8 to 12 Elementary Cycle 3 teachers who would receive training in modern grammar and its teaching. We organized nine monthly one-hour meetings devoted to analyzing teaching practices with which we combined five 2-hour grammar learning sessions, an efficient configuration given the constraints of the school context.

We used the following 3 measures to document the effects of the device on teachers: a video recording of the video club discussions, a questionnaire on self-efficacy and the value placed on modern grammar, and two observations of classroom practices.

3 measures were also used to assess the effects on students: writing competency scores, a questionnaire on writing motivation, and the use of a think-aloud protocol during a writing task. Our qualitative and quantitative analyses suggest that the device has a positive effect on professional vision (quantity and quality of discussion participation), classroom practices of most teachers, self-efficacy and the value placed on in-service training. Among students, we observed original uses of grammar in writing contexts as well as effects on writing motivation, but not on writing scores.

In conclusion, this research has helped us to better understand the complexity of the professional learning process and how it develops over time. The video club device enables teachers to mobilize different resources to demonstrate and share their expertise and provides insight into their reasoning processes, information that could be used by instructors to adjust their practices and researchers to document the effects of these changes.

Main researcher

Robert David, Université de Montréal


Research report

Call for proposals

Deposit of the research report: June 2016