Teacher Logs Reveal How Class Time Is Really Spent
When it comes to documenting what goes on in classrooms, education scholars tend to fall in two camps. On one side are researchers who send in paid observers, usually graduate students, to meticulously track the goings-on, like proverbial flies on the wall. In the other camp are those who go the cheaper—but less accurate—route of surveying teachers once a year or so.
Well, thought a team of researchers from the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, or CPRE, there’s got to be a better way. Their solution: pay teachers to keep daily logs of the instruction they provide to individual students in their classrooms. The researchers say the logs present a more true-to-life portrait of instruction than an occasional survey can. Yet they are inexpensive enough to use on a large scale.
“People might argue that the gold standard might be the trained observer,” said Brian P. Rowan, an education professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and one of the lead researchers on the project for CPRE, which has its headquarters at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “But who would know better,” he said, “about the instruction that’s being provided than the teacher...
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