Using technology to get inside the black box of instructional coaching: a feasibility study

Think tank: CEPEO

Author(s): Sam Sims; Kate Forbes; Josh Goodrich

June 20, 2023

This report from UK think tank CEPEO looks at the effectiveness of instructional coaching as a form of teacher professional development.

Instructional coaching has emerged as an effective form of teacher professional development. However, there is evidence of large variation in effectiveness between different coaches. What is it that differentiates more from less effective instructional coaching? Attempts to answer this question have been hampered by the difficulties of cost-effectively capturing variations in coaching practice. This paper reports on a pilot study using 360-degree (fisheye) video footage of teaching captured using classroom cameras, as well as audio recordings of coaching conversations uploaded via an online instructional coaching platform. The main aim of this research was to understand the feasibility of using such technology to get inside the black box of instructional coaching. We found that the camera technology could indeed capture meaningful variation in teachers’ practice after a coaching session. Likewise, we found that the audio uploads (recorded via mobile phones) could capture content of the coaching conversation relevant to assessing leading hypotheses about what differentiates more and less effective coaching. Having said that, the project also surfaced several important challenges related to the way in which the cameras were used, which hampered our ability to consistently capture time-series data. The paper concludes with recommendations for researchers considering using this sort of technology in future projects.