Navigation auf


Institut für Erziehungswissenschaft

Studie zur professionellen Entwicklung von Lehrerinnen und Lehrern in der Führung von Klassengesprächen zu komplexen Fragen / A research study on teachers’ professional development in leading classroom discussions on complex issues: The potential of the reflective teaching approach induced by video studies (Short title: „ReflecT“)

The analytical objective of the SNSF-funded research study “ReflecT” (full title: „A Research Study on Teachers Professional Development in Leading Classroom Discussions on Complex Issues: The Potential of the Reflective Teaching Approach Induced by Video Studies“, Project No. 100011-105754, 2004 – 2007) was to explore how teachers professionally develop when they are using a reflective teaching approach. On the one hand, teachers’ professional development was analysed with respect to their reflective competence and on the other hand, to self-judgment of their practical competence in leading classroom discussions on climate change, a topic which can be seen as a ‘classical’ socio-scientific issue. Following the reflective teaching concept, the research was designed as a spiral sequence of teachers’ initial reflection on videotaped classroom discussion sequences from the preceding research project „NASK“, inputs by the research team in a series of workshops, teachers’ action as they prepared and conducted their own classroom discussions, and reflection on action as teachers analysed their own classroom discussions and discussed their analyses with the research team.
The participants in this research projects were upper secondary teachers of biology, geography, and chemistry. Focusing on science teachers only was justified by a paradigmatic change in the science education discourse: science teaching no longer consists in transmitting scientific knowledge alone but also in accompanying and coaching of students’ individual learning processes (see e.g. Staub 2001). Due to the shift in the discourse on science teaching towards „scientific literacy“ and the call for teaching socio-scientific issues in the science classroom, it is now regarded as an important pedagogical competence that teachers are able to lead a classroom discussion in a way that allows students to construct meaningful knowledge (Barnes & Todd 1995; Duit & Treagust 1998; Mortimer & Scott 2000). On the methodological plane, science education research is increasingly using qualitative methods of social sciences in order to identify and describe key points of communication and interaction taking place in classrooms (cf. z.B. Bräu 2006; Krummheuer & Naujok 1999; Lemke 1990; Mortimer & Scott 2000; Scott 1998; Young 1992).
The following results have to be seen as a selection of preliminary findings. However, they may reveal interesting tendencies:
(A) At a macro-level, teachers in their reflections regard the following aspects as crucial when reflecting on classroom discussions on socio-scientific issues: (a) the setting of the classroom discussion; (b) the verbal participation of the students which should be as broad as possible; (c) high rate of interaction among the students without the teacher being part of the discussion; (d) a moderation style which intends to facilitate the goals mentioned in (b) and (c); finally (e) teachers associate a broad list of ambitious goals with classroom discussions, out of which the following one strikes most: students should be given the opportunity to build their own opinion without being influenced by the teacher.
(B) A more in-depth qualitative analysis of the gathered data across all case studies revealed the following:
(1) Over all data points, the central concern of the participating teachers were questions of classroom method (e.g. setting, moderation) while content aspects (i.e. questions of curriculum, content of the discussions, students’ reasoning etc.) were mentioned much less. (2) The literature on reflective teaching claims that reflective teaching projects help participants reveal their unconscious value judgements and subjective theories through processes of critical reflection. Though, in our research project, teachers reflected critically on their teaching, they did not reflect on underlying value judgments or subjective theories to a great extent. (3) The following dilemma proved to be a central topic of teachers’ reflections: on one hand, the teachers want their students to acquire correct scientific knowledge and to reach a concrete result in their discussion (e.g. a consensus about steps to be taken in order to combat climate change); on the other hand, they stress the importance of giving their students enough space for an autonomous formation of opinion. (4) Four out of five teachers report that their competencies have increased. Among others, teachers said that they were able to moderate a discussion in a more reflected way than before, that they broadened their competencies in observing and reflecting their own teaching, or that they had become sensitised about the importance of making the perspectivity and contextuality of scientific knowledge a topic in their science classroom.
At present, the findings of “ReflecT” are about to be validated, deepened and contextualised in the course of an additional research project (see: "Begleitete Unterrichtsreflexion. Eine Vertiefungsstudie zum Potenzial von Reflective Teaching für die professionelle Entwicklung von Lehrpersonen“, 2007-2008). This research consists of a Delphi-Study with international experts and of a final communicative validation of results by asking the participating teachers to comment on our findings and related hypotheses which concern their professional development during the course of “ReflecT”, the reflective teaching approach as a method of professional development, and classroom discussions as a method of teaching socio-scientific issues.


Kyburz-Graber, Regula, Wolfensberger, Balz; Hofer, Kurt; Piniel, Jolanda & Canella, Claudia (2007): A research study on teachers’ professional development in leading classroom discussions on complex issues: The potential of the reflective teaching approach induced by video studies. Wissenschaftlicher Schlussbericht zum Nationalfondsprojekt Nr. 100011-105754. Zürich: IGB, Universität Zürich.
Hofer, Kurt, Piniel, Jolanda & Wolfensberger, Balz (2006): Die Moderation von Klassengesprächen im Schnittbereich von Naturwissenschaft und Gesellschaft. In: Akten des Vierten Forum Fachdidaktiken Naturwissenschaften, Locarno 2006. [CD-ROM-Publikation]