Thin Slices

Research on instruction is interested in identifying features of teaching that are critical for student achievement. A frequently discussed problem regards the appropriate way of assessing these   features. Such assessments are usually realized either by teacher and student surveys or ratings based on classroom videos. While the first approach has shortcomings in reliability and validity the second one is extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive. The present research project “SLICES” explores first impressions as a possible alternative way of assessing teaching processes. Using the so called “thin slices” technique (Ambady & Rosenthal) several studies have already demonstrated high predictive validity of first impressions in respect of many psychological constructs. A “thin slice” is defined as a brief excerpt of expressive behavior sampled from the behavioral stream that is less than 5 minutes long and contains dynamic information. Mostly short video sequences are used as a basis for judgments regarding long-lasting behavioral tendencies and personality traits. Our research program is concerned with an exploration of the applicability of the “thin slices” technique as an economical method of assessing teaching processes within the framework of large-scale assessments. We plan to reanalyze data from the TIMSS and DESI studies and the corresponding video studies: As an example of teaching practices we plan to investigate if teachers’ responses to students’ mistakes are assessable by “thin-slice” judgments. “SLICES” is a cooperative project of Goethe University Frankfurt (M. Kunter and L. Begrich) and the German Institute for International Educational Research (E. Klieme, S. Kuger and J. Käfer, DIPF). It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and is part of the IDeA center in Frankfurt. 

Researcher: Lukas Begrich

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