Teacher Inquiry into Student Learning (TISL) in an Upper Secondary School in Norway
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Cecilie Johanne Hansen
17 December 2012
by Cecilie Hansen and Barbara Wasson
This position papers presents research that we are carrying out on the use of a teacher inquiry into student learning (TISL) method developed in the EU Next-TELL
project. As a first step in this research we carried out a focus group study with the
aim to discern teachers’ current practices in understanding their students’ learning at
an upper secondary school in Bergen, Norway. We found the focus group method
and the TISL method (reference needed from Brock), together, produced a rich
understanding of current practice and identified ways in which tools being developed
in the Next-TELL project can be used to support their TISL work. Thus we think this
combination could be an interesting approach to provide input to learning design
(LD). Figure 1 gives a short portrait of the study. Then a short description of the
study and our findings is given.
Study format: Three focus groups; one with TESL teachers and two with STEM teachers.
Aims: (1) Analysis: To know more about how teachers investigate student learning in order to develop and changetheir teaching. (2) Development: Generating ideas on how to implement the TISL Method at a Norwegian school
Output: (1) 3 models on how teachers collect, document, analyse, share data on student learning for professional development. (2) Knowledge on how Norwegian teachers investigate student learning in order to develop and change their
School type: Upper Secondary School
Participants: 10 teachers, 2 researchers
A focus group (Morgan 2010, Malterud, 2012) study of how 10 teachers reflect on
different aspects of teacher inquiry into student learning (TISL) was carried out at an
Upper Secondary School in Bergen, Norway. The teachers were divided into three
focus groups, based on their teaching subject - Science (STEM) or English (English).
The session began with a presentation of the idea of research on own teaching
practice and a description of the four stages of the TISL method developed in Next-
Tell. The four stages comprise: collecting data; analysing data; sharing data; and,
further developing teaching and assessment based on data.
After the presentation the teachers were presented a series of 8 questions, one at a
time, related to TISL and were asked to discuss, within their group, each question for
5 minutes. These questions related to the TISL method are:
1. Do you collect data on student learning? Why (not), and how?
2. Do you analyse data on student learning? Why (not), and how?
3. Do you share data on student learning? Why (not), and how?
4. What do you do with collected, analysed and shared data? Why (not), and
5. How do you further develop teaching based on collected, analysed and
shared data? Why (not), and how?
6. How do you document the collected, analysed and shared data? Why (not),
7. Is technology used to document, analyse and share data? Why (not), and
8. Is modelling used to plan teaching? Why (not), and how?
After the last question the teachers were asked to draw a model of their teaching
inquiry based on their discussion.
During the focus group a number of data collection methods were employed
including observation, notes, digital sound recordings and teachers modeling.
Analysis of the data shows that the teachers do collect and share data in order for
them to develop teaching practices, exchange experience, and to help students
develop. However, they admit that they do not document these changes in a unified,
systematic and structured way. Furthermore, there does not seem to be a shared
understanding or a common method for collecting, sharing and using data on student
learning for further professional development of the teacher. Assessment data and
observations are used to adapt teaching to the group of students. By doing so they
further develop and make their teaching their own way, however, as each class is
different. Sharing of teaching methods happens though the learning management
system, but this kind of sharing it is not in a unified structure. In the discussions, the
teachers were also unsure if and how they collected data and tied this to teaching
situations as to what ideas that worked and the results of those ideas.
The teachers further discussed how professional development not only is based on
analysing and sharing data from students' learning, but is also a tool for teachers to
adapt the teaching to the different the groups of students. However, there does not
seem to be a consistent practice on how to the collect, analyse and use data on
student learning in order to systematically change practice. One of the teachers
explained how he believed that teachers should become much better at reflecting on
their own teaching and to use assessment results more in the sense of how to
change teaching practices. Use and collecting of data from student assessment,
connecting it to best practice is very unstructured. There is little analysis of their own
teaching, based on data on student learning, and analysing best practice. Teachers
should become much better at reflecting on their own teaching and to use
assessment results more in the sense of how to change teaching practices. There is
little focus, and a long way to go when organising student data in relation to what
knowledge one is interested in using for further development of teaching. Use and
collecting of data from student assessment and connecting it to best practice is, at
present, very unstructured.
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