THE IMPACT OF QUALITY OF TEACHING ON STUDENT OUTCOMES: IMPLICATIONS FOR POLICY AND PRACTICE ON TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT L. KYRIAKIDES 1 & B.P.M. CREEMERS2 Department of Education, University of Cyprus, Cyprus 1Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, University of Groningen, the Netherlands 2
INTRODUCTIONResearch has consistently shown that: a) the classroom levelcan explain more of the variance in pupil outcomes than theschool level, and b) a large proportion of this classroom levelvariance can be explained by what teachers do in theclassroom.This paper aims to 1. summarise key findings and developments in the area of TER 2. discuss the main methodological and conceptual limitations of TER 3. refer to recent developments in TER 4. present results of projects which reveal that teaching skills can be grouped into specific developmental stages 5. propose a dynamic approach to teacher professional development
MAJOR FINDINGS OF TEACHER EFFECTIVENESS RESEARCHDuring the last 35 years, researchers have turned toteacher behaviour as predictor of student achievement inorder to build up a knowledge base on effective teaching.This research has led to the identification of a range ofbehaviours which are positively related to studentachievement.Quantity and pacing of instruction: Amount learnt is relatedto opportunity to learn and achievement is maximised whenteachers prioritise academic instruction and allocateavailable time to curriculum-related activities.Consistent success is another significant factor associatedwith student achievement. To learn efficiently, studentsmust be engaged in activities that are appropriate indifficulty level and suited to their current achievementlevels and needs.
MAJOR FINDINGS OF TEACHER EFFECTIVENESS RESEARCHEffective teachers are also expected to organise and managethe classroom environment as an efficient learningenvironment and thereby to maximise engagement rates Key indicators of effective classroom management include: good preparation of the classroom and installation of rules and procedures at the beginning of the year, smoothness and momentum in lesson pacing, consistent accountability procedures, and clarity about when and how students can get help and about what options are available when they finish. Most of teacher talk is academic rather than managerial or procedural.Form and quality of teachers organised lessons: givinginformation (structuring), asking questions (soliciting) andproviding feedback (reacting).
MAJOR FINDINGS OF TEACHER EFFECTIVENESS RESEARCHStructuring factor: a) outlining the content to becovered and signalling transitions between lesson parts;b) calling attention to main ideas; and c) reviewing mainideas at the end.Summary reviews are important since they integrateand reinforce the learning of major points.These structuring elements not only facilitatememorising of the information but allow for itsapprehension as an integrated whole with recognition ofthe relationships between parts.
MAJOR FINDINGS OF TEACHER EFFECTIVENESS RESEARCHClarity of presentation: Effective teachers communicateclearly and directly with their students withoutdigression, speaking above students levels ofcomprehension or using speech patterns that impair theclarity of what is being taught.The focus on teachers actively presenting materialsshould not be seen as an indication that traditionallecturing approach is an effective teaching approach.Effective teachers ask a lot of questions and attempt toinvolve students in class discussion. There should also be amix of product and process questions.Effective teachers also use seatwork or small group taskssince they provide needed practice and applicationopportunities.
CONCEPTUAL AND METHODOLOGICAL LIMITATIONS OF TERMost effectiveness studies are exclusively focused onlanguage or mathematics rather than on the whole schoolcurriculum. EER should take into account the new goals of education and related to this their implications for teaching and learning. New theories of teaching and learning should be used in order to specify variables associated with the quality of teaching.Instead of treating active and direct teaching approachesas in contrast with the new leaning approaches toteaching, an integrated approach to teaching is adoptedby the dynamic model.TER has not contributed significantly to teachersprofessional development.
A DYNAMIC APPROACH TO TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENTResearch on teacher training and TER have been conducted apart fromand without much reference to one another. Few researchers of teacher training methods rationalize their selection of teaching skills in terms of TER and very few evaluate the impact of teacher professional development on student learning. TER spend little time speculating about the methods that may be used to improve teaching practice.The dynamic model is not promoting specific teaching approach butconcentrates on instructional behaviour of teachers by describingthem through the use of specific teaching factors.Teaching factors are not separate entities but some of them areinterrelated. The model refers to grouping of factors.Improvement of teacher effectiveness can be focused not on theacquisition of isolated skills/competencies but on helping teachersexercise and/or develop types of teacher behaviour that are moreeffective than others.
STUDIES SEARCHING FOR STAGES OF EFFECTIVE TEACHING1) A Study Searching for Stages of Effective Teaching Participants: All the grade 5 students (n=2503) from each class (n=108) of 50 primary schools in Cyprus. Student achievement in mathematics, Greek language, and religious education were measured. Two low-inference and one high-inference observational instruments were used. These instruments were designed to collect data concerned with all the eight teacher factors of the dynamic model in relation with the five measurement dimensions of the model. The teaching skills included in the dynamic model were grouped into 5 stages. These were situated in a developmental order and linked with student outcomes. Teachers who demonstrated competencies in the higher stages were found to be more effective than those situated at the lower stages,
STUDIES SEARCHING FOR STAGES OF EFFECTIVE TEACHINGThe first three levels are related to the direct and activeteaching approach, by moving from the basic requirementsconcerning quantitative characteristics of teaching routinesto the more advanced requirements concerning theappropriate use of these skills as these are measured by thequalitative characteristics of these factors.These skills also gradually move from the use of teacher-centred approaches to the active involvement of students.The last two levels are more demanding since teachers areexpected to differentiate instruction (level 4) anddemonstrate their ability to use the new teaching approach(level 5).These five stages advance on previous stage models byspecifically determining the content of each stage (in termsof teaching skills), whereas previous stage models oftenlacked clarity on what might constitute each developmentalstage.
IMPLICATIONS FOR TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENTA question raised is the extent to which teachers can movefrom one stage of teaching competence to the next, byimproving their teaching skills and ultimately their studentachievement gains.The dynamic approach proposed here lies between the twodominant approaches to teacher professional development(i.e., the CBA and the HA) and aims to overcome their mainweaknesses.CBA: Program requirements are stated as competencieswhich describe what the teacher must demonstrate forsuccessful completion of the program.HA: Promotes reflection of teaching practices, experiences,and beliefs. Reflective practitioners can handle theirimprovement based solely on their own experiences andcritical thinking.
IMPLICATIONS FOR TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENTThe content derives from the grouping of teachingskills included in the dynamic model and it isdifferentiated to meet the needs and priorities ofteachers at each developmental stage.Although the content of this approach refers toteaching skills that were found to be positivelyrelated with student achievement, the participantsare also engaged into systematic and guided criticalreflection on their teaching practices.The effectiveness of this approach was comparedwith the Holistic Approach in improving teachingskills and student outcomes in mathematics.
IMPLICATIONS FOR TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENTParticipants: A total of 130 primary teachers volunteered toparticipate in the professional development programme.Data were collected from all students (n=2356) of the teacher-sample both at the beginning and end of the intervention.Phase 1: Teaching skills were evaluated by external observers.Observation data were analysed. It was found that teacherscould be classified into the same five levels which emergedfrom the first study on grouping of teacher factors.Phase 2: The teachers at each developmental stage wererandomly allocated into two groups. The first group employedthe dynamic approach while the second group used the HA.Phase 3: Teachers of each group began to work towardsimproving their teaching skills. This phase sought to initiatechanges in educational practices, working with the teachersthroughout the whole curriculum.
IMPLICATIONS FOR TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENTi) Sessions for teachers employing the Dynamic Approach Teachers employing the DA were assigned to four groups according to the stage in which they were found to be situated. Supporting literature and research findings related with the teaching skills which correspond to their stage were provided and the area on which each group had to concentrate their efforts for improvement was made clear. Each teacher developed his/her own action plan by exchanging ideas with the research team and members of his/her group. One session per month was scheduled until the end of the school year. The monthly sessions were organized in groups (based on teachers´ stages) and teachers were strongly encouraged to cooperate and share ideas and teaching materials, to exchange and discuss their experiences and generally to share the results of their exploration. Researchers visited teachers at their schools to discuss emergent issues related with the implementation of their action plans into their teaching practice and provide feedback to the teachers.
IMPLICATIONS FOR TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENTii) Sessions for teachers employing the HA The primary aim of these sessions was to enable individuals to critically evaluate their own beliefs and practice and help them transform their experiences from a past event to an ongoing learning process. Teachers had the chance to discuss in groups, identify a problem which they considered important in their teaching and formulate a plan of action to tackle this problem. After the development of the teachers’ initial action plans, we scheduled one session per month until the end of the school year. This decision provided the teachers with sufficient time to implement the activities included in their action plans and to reflect on the effectiveness of these activities.
IMPLICATIONS FOR TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENTResults: The dynamic approach was more effective than the HAin improving teaching skills.Teachers employing the HA neither made statisticallysignificant progress nor moved from one stage to another.Employing the DA had a statistically significant effect onstudent achievement, compared with employing the HA.Improvement of teacher effectiveness cannot be focused solelyon the acquisition of isolated skills or competencies, nor onreflection across the whole teaching process to help teachersget “greater fulfillment as a practitioner of the art” (ofteaching).Reflection is more effective when teachers priorities forimprovement are taken into account, and when they areencouraged to develop action plans which address theirprofessional needs.
IMPLICATIONS FOR TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENTTeachers employing the HA adopted a less focusedreflection strategy, which allowed teachers toreflect on any aspect of their teaching practiceirrespective of the stage on which they weresituated.Thinking and critical analysis are important, and thusthose aspects of the HA were utilised in thedevelopment of the DA.Complimenting reflection with the knowledge-base ofEER, which addresses the needs of specific groups ofteachers, could help establish effective approachesto teacher professional development which will havean impact on improving learning outcomes.