Systematic observation: changes and continuities over time

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Systematic observation of classrooms has a long and interesting history. This chapter presents a review of systematic observation that has been used as a research tool to study classrooms for the last 100 years. The methods of data collection and analysis used in the studies are described and discussed, with changes and continuities over time highlighted. The chapter argues that systematic observation of classroom practices has made an important contribution to our understanding of educational processes by enabling the study of pedagogic process in the naturalistic setting of the classroom. Such research has provided detailed and precise evidence about the extent to which educational innovations and policy reforms have resulted in changes in classroom practices and pupil learning outcomes. The chapter concludes with some comments on the current state of development in the field of systematic classroom observation and on ways in which it might usefully develop over the coming years.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on Life in Schools and Classrooms
Subtitle of host publicationPast, present and future visions
EditorsR. Maclean
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Classroom discourse
  • Classroom interaction
  • Mixed methods
  • Systematic observation

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