University of Minnesota
The RISE Vietnam Country Research Team is performing a qualitative video study that is collecting data in math and literature classes in 20 secondary schools in 10 provinces in Vietnam in order to understand teachers’ pedagogical practices and how they are related to both learning outcomes and learning competencies, a focus of the new reforms in Vietnam. The study includes:
Classrooms, teachers, and students are selected based on being part of our larger quantitative study on learning outcomes (which is a random selection of classrooms and students in them). For each year of secondary school, we will have approximately 80 hours of videotaped lessons and 100 interviews with teachers and principals. To enable deep analysis of classroom teaching and learning practices, we use two cameras: one focused on the teacher and the whole classroom, and a second focused on students and their learning activities. In the analysis, the videotapes are merged so we can analyze what teachers and students are doing in the classroom.
The preliminary analysis focuses on how teachers use teaching activities in the classroom to foster students’ learning of content and competencies. The competencies in the new curriculum that we are particularly analyzing are:
In addition to analyzing if and how these competencies are taught and learned, we are also analyzing various teaching practices, including how the lessons are structured as whole classroom time, individual work, or group work; and what kinds of tools, such as using modeling or feedback, are used in classroom learning.
In brief, most teachers use group work as a way to engage students in learning, but the use of this practice in many classrooms is not done in a way that could develop competencies or foster learning content. There are clear examples where some teachers used group work in ways that effectively foster both learning of content and competencies.
In addition, many teachers use various tools, such as questioning, feedback and modeling, effectively to foster learning of content, and others also use it to foster creative thinking and problem solving. However, the uses of these tools, such as feedback, vary in how they prompt students to engage in their own learning, or in correcting their errors or thinking.
Cooperation and communication was the most often discussed competency by teachers, and also enacted through group work, games, or other activities in the classroom. Fewer teachers engaged in activities that purposefully fostered creative thinking and problem solving, though there are some good examples of this being used, particularly in language and literature courses.
Our analysis does not suggest that social constructivist teaching approaches are extensively used or adopted in Vietnamese classrooms, nor does it suggest that these practices, such as group work, are necessarily used in ways to support learning content or competencies. The preliminary analysis indicates, however, that there may be more competency-focused learning than is often reported in research on Vietnamese education, and perhaps more than many policymakers know, given their ardent critiques of the education system that, they think, is tailored to memorization and testing.
Questions for further analysis include whether and how these teaching practices are related to learning outcomes, as measured on math and language tests, as well as whether higher performing classrooms engage in different pedagogical practices than lower performing ones, and why.
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