What is EMU?

EMU is the abbreviation of Evidence-based methods of diagnosis of classroom instruction, a nationwide project for improving teachers’ diagnostic competencies. It’s an evidence-based program for increasing teachers’ sensitivity to heterogeneity in the classroom and stimulating awareness of their response tendencies and intuitive theories of teaching and learning, funded by the Standing Conference of the German Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs.

Short introduction

Recent research has revealed considerable differences between objectively measured aspects of a lesson (such as proportion of teachers’ verbal contributions, recorded by video) and corresponding teacher ratings (Helmke et al., 2008). In order to provide external criteria that allow teachers to compare their own view of instruction with other views (students, colleagues) we have developed the EMU program. EMU represents the core of a research module led by A. Helmke (University Koblenz.-Landau) within the framework of a nationwide project for improving teachers’ diagnostic competencies of the Federal Republic of Germany.

With this instrument, we aim at encouraging teachers to explore (1) if and in what respect their self-evaluation profiles differ from both student and colleague ratings of the same lesson, and (2) how heterogeneous their pupils are in judging a concrete lesson. It is hypothesized that different views motivate teachers to explore the reasons for these differences, e.g. by means of cooperative effort (discussions with pupils, colleagues etc.). Possible causes could be diversity among students’ background, teachers’ response biases and their idiosyncratic intuitive theories of teaching and learning. The results of the diagnosis from multiple perspectives serve as a starting point for improving teaching.

The EMU program is written in Microsoft Excel VBA language. From an overview page, one can easily access input and output pages. After data entry, graphical illustrations of pupils’, teachers’ and colleagues’ rating profiles can be generated.

With this program, a practical tool is available that can help teachers to detect different views of instruction and stimulate them to reflect on these differences. Thus, it may serve as an evidence-based tool of teacher professionalization, facilitating and accelerating the way to become a reflective practitioner.