The usefulness of rigorously tested measurement tools developed by researchers in the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) is not limited to the United States. These tools are increasingly being adopted in education research across the globe.
At the University of Amsterdam, Helma Koomen, associate professor in the Department of Child Development and Education, has found several measures indispensable for her research on student-teacher interactions and relationships. When the time came to plan her sabbatical leave from teaching, she chose CASTL as her destination. She arrived in February and is working from an office 315 Old Ivy until her departure late in May.
“In my opinion the most outstanding research in the field of teacher-child interactions and relationships is performed here,” Koomen said.
In her own research in The Netherlands, she has used the Student Teacher Relationship Scale, the Teacher Relationship Interview, and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System ™ (CLASS), all three developed here. “The instruments and programs developed at CASTL have high potential both for research and school practice,” she said.
Much of the research conducted at CASTL intersects with her own research pursuits and she is eager to hear about new developments and intervention programs. “I’m particularly interested in the interrelationship between the CLASS instrument and the Individualized Classroom Assessment Scoring System and how the two can be used as starting points for intervention,” she said.
In addition to reinvigorating her own research agenda, she hopes to take back home with her a better understanding of how to build a school culture in which teachers are motivated to invest in interactions and relationships with students. “This is a big issue in the Netherlands. Every school psychologist knows that this is what it’s all about, but they often are hesitant to administer instruments such as the Student Teacher Relationship Scale.” The primary reason, she believes, is discomfort with telling teachers about the ineffective relationships they might observe. A discussion with teachers about their negative interactions with children seems too personal.
“I want to learn from researchers here how school psychologists deal with this in the U.S. and how open American teachers are to intervention focused on their own emotional support of children,” she said. “My feeling is that they are more open than teachers in The Netherlands are, but maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps no one likes to reflect about those things.”
by Lynn Bell