"Teachers' input and choice of classroom activities affect learning processes"
Teachers need to make informed decisions about their language use in the classroom, and the form of learning activities they provide for their students. This comprises characteristics of their speech and choice of verbal input, their supporting non-verbal input such as body language and gestures, meaningful authentic content-based tasks that foster student interactions, output and problem-solving abilities, and numerous feedback techniques which are helpful and effective.
All ot these strategies ultimately aim at engaging learners, focussing their attention, stimulating their cognitive processes, and supporting retention in long-term memory.
Goald of the class:
In this class, we will investigate how different types of teaching strategies affect students' (language) learning processes. To that end, we will carry out video-based classroom observation, standardized language and content knowledge tests (English, German, maths), and teacher questionnaire studies. For classroom analyses, we will work with an observation scheme that comprises over 40 teaching techniques which have been shown to be effective in teaching practice (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340096869_Teacher_Input_Observation_Scheme_TIOS_and_Manual/stats).
The observation strategies have been compiled for foreign language classrooms. One aim of the class is to find out whether they are also effective for multilingual learners with a low proficency in German in German-speaking classrooms. Research on students with a so-called "migration background" shows that as a group they often do not achieve the same school results as monolingual children. Language-sensitive teaching strategies known from the foreign language classroom and bilingual teaching are claimed to be helpful for these groups of learners, as well.
We will compare our observations of teacher behavior and student outcomes with teachers' own self-reports.
Research questions may include:
- Which teaching strategies are the strongest predictors for student outcomes?
- Do teachers' self-reports of their teaching strategies correlate with those of independent observers (classroom videos)?
- Are foreign language teaching strategies also effective in language-sensitive German classrooms?
- E.g., do teachers who use these techniqes in their maths classes foster better learning results?
- Do these techniques especially help multilingual learners with a low command of German to better understand the content?
Competences to be aquired:
- Thorough knowledge of good teaching practice in the (foreign language) classroom
- Experience of different empirical classroom research methods such as participant observations, standardized testing, surveys, video analyses, quasi-experimental designs
- Basic understanding of simple statistical procedures (you don't need to do this on your own but you will get help from experts for your projects!)
All of these skills will prepare you for projects you will carry out for your MA theses. Each project can serve as a basis for your MA thesis.
This class will be taught online via video conference each Thursday during our regular slot. If we cannot carry out school observations in the summer term due to ongoing Corona restrictions, we will collaborate closely with selected teachers and use online questionnaires.
Certificate of Bilingual Teaching and Learning / SMILE and FLINK student research assistants
Students taking part in the Certificate Program and/or are HiWis in our research projects are strongly recommended to take part in this Projektband and it provides the basis for many of our relevant studies.
Students who are interested in the Certificate Program can join at any time during their studies -- check out www.uni-hildesheim.de/zertifikat-bili/
The certificate can also be obtained after you have finished your studies.
Additional comment (8.09.2020):
It has turned out recently that our topic is very relevant in the current discussion on educational policy: NRW has just decided to cancel English from grade 1, Baden-Württemberg did so some time ago, and in Lower Saxony English has lost its status as a core subject in primary school. The public opinion seems to be that primary English is not effective and therefore not worthy of further support.
This is surprising, however, given the background of predominantly “fachfremde” instruction by teachers who do not speak English very well (which is certainly not their fault), which is not sufficiently taken into account in the political discussion. This makes it all the more important to have research findings to show that good teaching quality also leads to significantly higher results in language competence and can even promote cognitive skills. And that education at universities should be supported accordingly.
We are currently in exchange with colleagues at other universities, and some of them are very interested in doing the project as a cooperation. This gives us a really great opportunity, especially in Corona times, to carry out an important scientific project together, in which students come into contact with many other experts in English didactics. Thanks to the cooperation we can distribute our survey throughout Germany.