Virtual Observations: A Situational Analysis of a Technological Response to Practicum Assessment During a Pandemic

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In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual observations were introduced to assess student teachers, in a Scottish Initial Teacher Education (ITE) department. This research critically reflects on the usage of these virtual observations as they were deployed on a large scale to meet the emergency requirements of teacher education during a pandemic. Using Grounded Theory as a qualitative frame (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016), this research employs Clarke’s (2005) situational analysis to provide insights into how effective virtual observations are in the assessment of teaching practicum. The research methods involved the collation of individual, written, critical reflections from 17 Practicum Tutors who used video to assess student teacher competency. These pieces of reflective writing were then thematically analysed and the resulting coding used to identify commonalities and trends. The importance of the skilled observer, the value of visual information, and the use of supplementary information were significant themes that emerged through the analysis. Overall, the effectiveness of virtual observations is confirmed, but caveats on its use remain. These caveats sit alongside questions of how virtual observation might be used in the future. Exploring the use of virtual observations as an assessment tool, at scale, gives this paper a unique situation, and its analysis adds to the knowledge base for virtual observations and how they can be used within teacher education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-137
Number of pages22
JournalKwartalnik Pedagogiczny
Issue number4 (262)
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2022


  • Initial Teacher Education; Placement; Practicum; Video observations
  • video observation
  • virtual observation
  • school practicum
  • pandamic


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