President's Teaching Scholars Program


2014 Research Projects


David A. Rickels

Assistant Professor of Music Education
University of Colorado Boulder
College of Music, Music Education

IMIG Music Building, 301 UCB

Boulder, CO 80309-0301

Evaluating Synchronized Video Feedback in Pre-Service Teacher Education

In the current era of high-stakes assessment of teachers and increased focus on teacher quality, there are many critical issues in the preparation and assessment of preservice teachers (students enrolled in teacher preparation programs). This study will address the problem of how to deliver effective feedback on preservice teacher performance at executing lessons, given constraints such as time and feedback mode. When preservice teachers conduct a mock or real lesson, it can be disruptive for an instructor to stop their teaching to make corrections and offer immediate feedback based on assessment of their performance. However, if instructor feedback is delayed until after the lesson, it may not seem as relevant or authentic to the preservice teacher and may be less likely to lead to change in practice. This lack of authenticity may be compounded by the difficulty of capturing key moments of a lesson in a written mode, where the preservice teacher may not fully understand or recall what the instructor is referring to in the written comments.

This issue of feedback is critical to all those involved in teacher preparation, regardless of specific discipline.  This study will explore a novel approach to delivering authentic feedback in the context of an undergraduate introductory music education course. This approach, referred to as synchronized video feedback (SVF), consists of a video recording of a lesson taught by a student overlaid with assessment feedback from the course instructor in the form of an audio track and graphical annotations. Using the SVF approach for preservice teachers offers the potential for more authentic feedback as the student is able to re-experience the lesson through audiovisual media while receiving relevant feedback on what she/he immediately sees and hears. This study holds the possibility of demonstrating a new and more effective teaching tool for all teacher educators.

The purpose of this study will be to examine the effect of the SVF format on the teaching performance of preservice teachers enrolled in an undergraduate teacher preparation program. This study will use an experimental design to compare SVF with traditional written-only feedback delivery. Data will be gathered in junior- or senior-level teaching methods courses. The primary evidence and dependent variable for quantitative analysis employed in this study will be a measure of teaching effectiveness, such as the Survey of Teaching Effectiveness (Hamann & Baker, 1995). If funded by the PTLC, the funding will allow the recruitment of additional data collection sites beyond CU Boulder by supporting a graduate assistant who will conduct training and coordinate data between site leaders. The additional sites will increase the sample size and thus support greater generalizability of the findings. Faculty members at several universities have already expressed interest in this project. The funding will also support compensation of external scorers on the primary data collection instrument, which will increase the reliability of the data.

This experimental study of the SVF approach will follow two previous exploratory studies I conducted during the 2012-2013 school year. These precursor studies were designed to demonstrate the feasibility of the technology needed to combine audio feedback with videos of the preservice teacher lessons. These proof-of-concept studies also collected data on the attitudes of the preservice teachers toward the SVF approach. Findings indicated that the participants generally felt the SVF approach was superior to written feedback in allowing them to specifically understand corrective instructions. Findings also pointed to inconsistency or unreliability of the technology as the largest negative influence on participant attitudes.

There has been significant interest in feedback models from disciplines across teacher education, particularly as technology affordances have evolved to allow possibilities beyond written or direct verbal communication. Two prior feedback models in particular are relevant to the study of SVF. The first, referred to as video-elicited reflection or VER (Sewall, 2009), involves a preservice teacher and a mentor such as a field supervisor conducting a joint debriefing after a lesson, using the video recording of the lesson as a prompt for cooperative reflection. Sewall reported that this technique resulted in greater depth and breadth of reflection by the preservice teacher compared to traditional cooperative debriefing without a video artifact as prompt. The second feedback model has made use of “bug-in-the-ear” or BIE technology—a small one-way earpiece receiver that allows a preservice teacher to privately receive live feedback from an observer during a lesson. Multiple investigations in different teacher education disciplines have reported positively on the use of this device (Giebelhaus, 1994; Kahan, 2002; Rock, Gregg, Gable, & Zigmond, 2009; Scheeler, Congdon, & Stansbery, 2010). While these studies generally found the preservice teacher was able to make use of the feedback without suffering undue distraction, the distraction factor could be of additional concern in a more aurally intensive environment such as a music classroom. The SVF approach is designed to maximize the affordances of both the VER and BIE approaches, while minimizing the negative aspects of each.

Although the ultimate goal for sharing this work is peer-reviewed journal publication, the nature of the technology also means that there are several other adjunct outlets for information in addition to journal publication. As this project utilizes video media, I plan to offer examples from the results via the internet to share with other practitioners worldwide. This will be done in conjunction with presentations at conferences for teacher educators (such as the Society for Music Teacher Education or the American Educational Research Association) in order to open a dialogue with as wide an audience as possible. As an example, the video report with example media from my recently completed precursor study is available on the internet at this address:

The education of future teachers is a primary area of my research agenda. Much of my research has focused on the use of technology in teacher education. During my first year at CU Boulder, I applied and was accepted to the fall 2012 cohort of the Teaching With Technology Faculty Seminar. Prior to coming to CU Boulder, I was part of the first and second cohorts (2010-2011 and 2011-2012) of the m-Learning Scholars Program at Boise State University—an interdisciplinary campus initiative that was aimed at investigating innovative uses of mobile technology in the learning environment. Both of these programs have supported the research projects that led to the reviewed presentations noted in the vita above. In all cases, the projects have explored novel uses for existing technologies in previously untried ways to improve transfer of learning among students as well as deepen the potential for authentic assessment of learning.

If accepted to the 2013-2014 PTLC, I agree to attend the meetings specified in the call for proposals. I have spoken to Dr. James Austin, College of Music, about serving as my coach for this project, and he has expressed his willingness to participate.  Dr. Austin previously served as a PTLC coach for another faculty member in a prior year. If I am accepted to the PTLC, I will gladly serve as a Coach in the future, as I believe strongly in this method of sharing peer knowledge about best practices in teaching and learning.