Using dyadic observation to explore equitable learning opportunities in classroom instruction

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Because of poverty, many children do not receive adequate prenatal care, nutrition, or early childhood education. These inequities combine to ensure that many students enter school with considerably less academic content knowledge and skills for learning than their peers. Teachers and schools did not create these gaps, but they must address them. The impact of schools in reducing gaps has been explored for decades only to yield inconsistent findings. One possible reason for these contradictory results is because these studies ignore classroom process. We argue for the inclusion of process in research on opportunity and achievement gaps to better articulate if schools provide inequitable learning opportunities. Further, we argue for dyadic (teacher to individual student) measurement of classroom process because commonly-used observation instruments only measure teachers’ interactions with the whole class. These instruments obscure differential teacher treatment that may exist in some classrooms. To improve policy and practice, we call for supplementing extant measures of teachers’ whole-class interactions (process) and student outcome (product) measures with those that measure dyadic interactions to learn how opportunities to learn in classrooms and schools are distributed among students to reduce, sustain, or enhance learning gaps.


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How to Cite
Alyson L. Lavigne, & Thomas L. Good. (2021). Using dyadic observation to explore equitable learning opportunities in classroom instruction. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 29(August - December), 149.
Author Biographies

Alyson L. Lavigne, Utah State University

Alyson L. Lavigne is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Leadership at Utah State University. Using her training as an educational psychologist and classroom researcher, Lavigne has conducted research on teacher retention, teachers’ beliefs, teacher supervision and evaluation, and culturally and linguistically minoritized students’ experiences. Her work has been featured in Teaching and Teacher EducationTeachers College RecordJournal of Teacher Education, and Education Policy Analysis Archives, and in a co-authored book with Tom Good, Enhancing Teacher Education, Development, and Evaluation: Lessons Learned from Educational Reform

Thomas L. Good, University of Arizona

Thomas L. Good is a Professor Emeritus from the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Arizona. His policy interests include youth and effective teaching. His research interests include the communication of performance expectations in classroom settings and the analysis of effective instruction, especially in schools that serve high numbers of students who reside in poverty. He has been a Fulbright Fellow (Australia) and served as long-term editor of the Elementary School Journal. He is a members oof the National Academy of Education and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Educational Research Association.