«SE 062 649 ED 431 621 Stigler, James W.; Gonzales, Patrick; Kwanaka, Takako; AUTHOR Knoll, Steffen; Serrano, Ana The TIMSS Videotape Classroom Study: ...»
Principle #2: Document the teacher. Regardless of what the ideal student is doing, be certain to capture everything that the teacher is doing to instruct the class. Usually the two principles are in agreement: Whenever the ideal student is attending to the teacher, both principles would have the camera pointed at the teacher. However there are times when the two principles are in conflict. Take, for example, a case where the majority of students are doing seatwork while the teacher is working privately with two students at the board. The ideal student would be focused on his or her work, not on the teacher.
In situations like this one the videographer must go beyond these two basic principles in order to determine where to point the camera.
The Exceptions: Three Difficult Situations We have identified three common situations where the principles alone cannot guide choices about what to capture on the videotape. These situations are: (1) when the ideal student would be focused on something other than the teacher, (2) when two speakers who are having a conversation will not fit in a single shot, and (3) when a speaker and an object being discussed will not fit in a single shot. We developed a set of guidelines so that videographers will choose similar (i.e., comparable) shots when faced with each of these situations and so that these shots will contain a maximum amount of useful information. In the rest of this section we present a more detailed discussion of these three situations and how we chose to film them.
Situation #1: When the ideal student is not watching the teacher. As already mentioned, there are times when the ideal student should be attending to something other than the teacher. This most often occurs when students are given a task to work on individually or in small groups. Teachers can use this time in different ways. Sometimes they will walk around the class and monitor students' work. This is ideal from the videographers' point of view because by following the teacher with the camera one can also get a sense of what students are doing. In some instances, however, a problem arises because the teacher does not circulate through the class but rather stays at the board or her desk. In such cases the camera would need to be pointed in two different directions (toward the teacher and toward the students) in order to capture both the teacher and the focus of the ideal student.
Videographers were instructed to handle such situations by alternating between these two points of view. They were told to slowly do a sweep of the classroom by panning away from the teacher and then panning back to the teacher so as to document what the students are doing. After this sweep they were told to keep the camera directed at the teacher unless the nature of the students' activity changes in any significant way (e.g. new materials are introduced or they break into groups). If the students' activity were to change, videographers were instructed to carry out another sweep of the students, then return to the teacher.
Situation #2: When two speakers will not fit in a single shot. A second difficult situation occurs when the teacher is conversing with a student (or a student is conversing with another student) and the two speakers are far enough apart that they do not fit in a single camera shot. This often occurs when a teacher calls on a student seated in the back of the room, then proceeds to talk back and forth to the student.
In this case videographers were instructed to move the shot from speaker to speaker as they take turns talking. An exception to this rule occurs when one of the speaker's turns of speech are so brief that there is no time to shift the camera before the turn is over. In this case the camera should be kept on the person doing the most talking.
Situation #3: When the speaker and the object being discussed will not fit in a single shot. Another difficult situation occurs when a speaker and an object he or she is discussing will not both fit into a single camera shot. This happens frequently, for example, when someone is talking about things written on the chalkboard or about concrete representations of a mathematical situation or concept.
In this kind of situation videographers were told to document the object for long enough to provide the visual information needed to make sense of the talk, then to keep the shot on the speaker. For example, if the teacher is talking about a problem on the blackboard, the videographer should first tape the problem, then move to the teacher.
There is one important exception to this rule. Sometimes it is not sufficient to briefly see the object and then move to the speaker because the talk will make no sense unless one is seeing the object as it is being talked about. For example, if the speaker is pointing to specific features of the object as he or she talks, and if the pointing must be seen in order to understand the talk, then the rule is that the camera must stay on the object so that the talk can be understood.
How Close to Frame the Shot Aside from making sure that videographers point their cameras at comparable things, we also wanted to make sure that their shots are framed in comparable ways. An extreme close up of the teacher talking would provide a very different sense of the action taking place than a wide shot where the teacher is seen in the context of the classroom.
We decided that in general we wanted the widest shot possible, a shot professional videographers call the "Master of Scene" (MOS) or, more simply, the "master shot." From an aesthetic point of view closer shots often look better. However, the MOS provides more contextual information and thus was judged more appropriate for our purposes. The master shot also is less prone to bias because it does not artificially focus the viewer in on whatever aspect of the lesson the videographer judged to be most interesting.
Sometimes, however, there is crucial information that cannot be captured in a master shot. Common examples include objects being discussed during the lesson or things written on the blackboard. In such instances the camera should zoom in close enough to capture this information. In other words, although our preferred view of the classroom is the MOS, a closer shot must be used when it is needed to understand what is going on. Videographers were told to hold close shots long enough to enable a viewer to read or form a mental image of the information.
Moving from Shot to Shot Finally, having devised guidelines for what to include in the shot, we also needed some rules for how to move from shot to shot. This, too, must be done in a standardized way if the tapes are to be fully comparable.
The guidelines we gave to the videographers were based on principles of good camera work. We taught them how to compose shots and execute camera movements in ways that follow basic cinematographic conventions and fundamentals of good composition. Aside from wanting them to follow the same conventions, we wanted them to carry out good camera work. Bad camera work calls attention to itself and distracts the viewer from the contents of the tape.
Training Videographers In order to make sure that the rules were applied correctly and reliably we had to work intensively with the videographers. Each videographer participated in two training sessions, both of which were conducted by our professional videographer, Mr. Rankin. The first training session lasted 9 days in the spring of 1994, after which each videographer was sent out to collect 10 practice tapes for a field test. The second training session lasted 5 days and was held in the early fall of 1994. Following this second training session videographers were given a test, then when they passed, sent off to collect the data.
We designed the training sessions with two goals in mind: First, we wanted to teach the videographers our camera use rules to the point that they could follow them by second nature. In an actual taping situation videographers would have to make rapid decisions about where to point the camera without time for reflection. Second, we wanted the videographers to learn and practice the fundamental skills of camera use. These skills include, for example, changing from one camera angle to another quickly without losing a focused image, tracking moving objects without having the object leave the shot, and moving rapidly back and forth from close-ups to master shots while ending up centered on the shot that needs to be captured.
The first training session was devoted to five activities: learning to use the equipment, practicing basic principles of good camera work, presentation and discussion of the standardized rules for taping classrooms, practice taping in mock classrooms, and practice taping in real classrooms. Activities in the second training session included reviewing and discussing the rules, critiquing practice tapes, and more practice taping in mock classrooms. A monitor hooked to the camera during the training sessions allowed videographers to rotate between practicing with the camera and watching/critiquing their peers in collaboration with the instructor.
We would like to pause here and insert a helpful hint for others contemplating this kind of work.
One has two alternatives in deciding who to hire and train as a video survey videographer: One can hire scientists (i.e., educational researchers) and train them to take good pictures, or one can hire artists (i.e., photographers) and teach them the importance of following standardized rules for camera use. The latter proved far easier, and the pictures are much more aesthetically pleasing.
Evaluating the Comparability of Camera Use At the end of the second training session we gave the videographers a test to measure and document how well they had internalized all they had been taught. A 7-minute mock lesson was created that covered many of the situations videographers needed to know how to handle. The lesson was taught three times, each one identical to the others, and was taped each time by one of the three videographers. The resulting tapes were analyzed and evaluated to make sure that our videographers would shoot lessons in a standardized manner.
To evaluate the videographers' performance on the test we first produced a description of how the test lesson should have been videotaped. We listed the 22 events that took place in the lesson, then determined how each event should be taped given the procedures we had developed.
Once we had a description of how the test-lesson should have been taped, we evaluated each videographer's performance against this ideal. We used a three-point scale to score how well they taped each of the 22 lesson events. They were given a score of zero if they broke any of the rules that they needed to take into account; for example, if they did not zoom in to capture information that they were supposed to capture, or if they pointed the camera at the wrong thing, they would be given a score of zero. They were given a score of one if they showed an understanding of the rule they needed to carry out but did not apply it in a timely fashion. For example, if they needed to zoom in and capture what the teacher was pointing to but reacted too slowly and missed this information, or if they let the teacher walk around the class for a while before they decided to follow her, they would receive a score of one.
They were given a score of two if they applied the rules exactly as we had predicted they should.
The scores obtained were all in a similar range and also were relatively high. The German videographer received a score of 35 out of a possible total of 44. The Japanese videographer received a score of 36 and the U.S. videographer a score of 43. In addition, of the 66 events scored for the three videographers only four were rated a zero (which means that a rule was actually broken only four times). Two of these zeroes were obtained by the German and two by the Japanese videographer. This means that no videographer ever showed more than two rule breeches for the entire test.
The test lesson tapes were also used to evaluate the quality of each videographer's camera work. First we generated a list of possible flaws that a videographer might produce. Our list included the following
We used this list to score each videographer's performance on a four-point scale for each of the 22 events in the test lesson. Videographers were given a score of three on an event if we could find no flaw in their camera work. They received a score of two if one flaw could be found, a score of one if two flaws could be found, and a score of zero if at least three flaws could be found.
All videographers obtained scores that were within a similar range and judged to be satisfactorily high.
The Japanese videographer received a score of 51 out of a possible total of 66. The German videographer received a score of 52, and the U.S. videographer a score of 60.
Both evaluations of the test confirmed our informal impression that camera standardization had been reached by the end of the training.
Videographers were in the field for a prolonged period of time. We worried, therefore, that they might slowly forget what they were taught or develop bad habits. In order to make sure that they continued using the camera correctly, every 10th tape that came in from the field was evaluated using a scoring system similar to the one described. Videographers were given feedback about how they were doing. In
BEST COPY AVMI A IV LEparticular, they were immediately informed if they had, in any way, drifted away from the standards we knew they were able to follow. In actuality, this almost never happened.
Some Notes on Equipment The quality of the data depends to a great extent on the quality of the equipment used in collecting the data. Thus, we wanted high quality cameras that would produce excellent images, and high quality microphones that would enable us to hear most of what goes on in the classroom. At the same time, we needed equipment that could be operated by a single videographer.