Melbourne Graduate School of Education

Video-based educational research: Remembering David Clarke

Video has been used as a method for researching teaching and learning for decades. It offers significant and creative ways of seeing, hearing, capturing, collecting and curating the processes of teaching and learning in classrooms. As digital technologies and data production have evolved so has the way this mode of research is used by educational researchers and teachers. 

An international leader in video-based research methodology was Professor David Clarke from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. His innovative approaches have benefited and influenced many researchers and teachers from around the world. 

The education community is particularly saddened by the recent passing of Professor Clarke. This post is dedicated to honouring David and his remarkable work with video-based research and its continuing and expanding importance in classroom education in Australia and around the world. 

Using video-based research with evidence-based practice methodologies is common in teaching methods courses today. These methods provide opportunities for educational researchers to capture the human, non-human and more-than-human relations in multiple sites and spaces and to use the data collected to understand and improve what happens in our classrooms. It captures the goings-on in a classroom during teaching and learning activities, including, but not limited to, what the teacher and students are doing, how they interact and respond, what they say and how effectively they carry out their tasks. The methodology of video-based research continually shifts as collection of high-end data intensifies in our digital world.  

To help collect, store and analyse data (particularly video data) relating to the study of learning and teaching in classrooms the International Centre for Classroom Research was established in affiliation with the Melbourne Graduate School of Education (MGSE) at the University of Melbourne in 2003. Professor Clarke took a leading role in establishing this centre. Its flagship project, The Learner’s Perspective Study (LPS), examined teaching and learning classroom practices of competent mathematics teachers from sixteen countries. By 2019, the ICCR was coordinating the research activities of over 50 researchers internationally and had formed partnerships with researchers in 20 countries. Today the ICCR houses one of the largest collections of classroom data ever accumulated.  

Locally, research projects have involved academic staff from both the Melbourne Graduate School of Education (MGSE) and other Australian universities (Monash, Deakin, Edith Cowan, the Australian Catholic University, and the University of Queensland) and the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). The ICCR has also been the site of significant technical innovation including the adaptation of video analysis tool, Studiocode, for use in social science research. This software was in widespread international use and represented the benchmark for video analysis for many years. 

Led by Professor Clarke, the ICCR team designed and now manage an internationally unique, state-of-the-art digital research facility. This digital research platform is unique in its design and collaborative production and analysis of complex digital classroom data.  
 
The ICCR research platform is a member of The Science of Learning Research Centre and partner of The Social & Cultural Informatics Platform (SCIP) and includes a research control room that serves as a digital hub in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, connecting to the UNESCO Observatory of Arts Education, studioFive through 16 channels of video and 32 channels of audio.

David and the ICCR have been at the centre of several extensive international research communities. The longevity of these research communities has been remarkable; the LPS has been an active research community across 16 countries for over a period of more than 20 years. More recent research communities, such as the one associated with the International Classroom Lexicon Project, are similarly internationally diverse, bringing major international researchers to the University of Melbourne to collaborate and interact with the local community.  

A research volume, Teachers talking about their classrooms: Learning from the professional lexicons of mathematics teachers around the world, is in preparation. It documents the professional vocabulary of teachers in ten communities worldwide when talking about the phenomena of the middle school mathematics classroom.  

David leaves a legacy in multiple forms: a remarkable body of research, wide and multi-disciplinary international networks, innovative digital research programs and methodological and technological expertise in video-based educational research. It includes a team of researchers that continue with his work in multi and cross-disciplinary teams including participatory video, use of pre-existing digital video, video elicitation, video observation and video-based field work that has provided educational researchers with share-able, multi-modal, workable and real time digital data.  

Professor David Clarke was much loved and admired and was particularly fond of the Australian educational research community. His passing is a sad moment for all, but we are richer for having known David and his work. 

Kathryn Coleman PhD  is a  senior lecturer in Visual Arts and Design Education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. Kathryn is Co-Director at the UNESCO Observatory of Arts Education, Melbourne Graduate School of Education HASS Digital Champion and is Humanities Arts and Social Sciences Data Enhanced Virtual Laboratory World Councillor for InSEA. Her work focuses on the integration of digital pedagogies and digital portfolios for sustained creative practice and assessment. 

Carmel Mesiti is Centre Coordinator of the International Centre for Classroom Research (ICCR) at the University of Melbourne. She has been involved in Education for over 20 years. Carmel is project manager of the International Classroom Lexicon Project and a research member of the Australian team. Her research interests have included lesson structure, lesson beginnings, mathematical tasks and more recently, as part of her doctoral work, the nature of differences in the pedagogical lexicons of education communities internationally. Carmel began her career in government schools as a secondary school mathematics teacher and held leadership positions including year level coordinator and mathematics faculty coordinator. 

A memorial service for David Clarke will be held Friday February 21st at the Basement Theatre, Melbourne School of Design (Glyn Davis Building), The University of Melbourne, Parkville. 

The image on this post is Professor David Clarke in the Science of Learning Research Classroom. Image is by Marcel Aucar.