A multi-stage mixed analysis was used to examine stories from 423, primarily Hispanic, undergraduate students in the United States regarding their best and poorest K-12 teachers, along with responses to 10 Likert format survey items. In the quantitative analysis phase, participants expressed strong agreement with items derived from the literature concerning characteristics of effective teachers. In the qualitative analysis phase, themes from their stories were derived as well as exemplars of their best and poorest teacher stories. Then the qualitative data were transformed or 'quantitised' and statistically analysed, revealing that statistically significant differences were present in the themes by gender, whether they were a first generation college student, and the particular form of the survey completed. Thus, this investigation provides a strong model which other researchers can use as they investigate this issue and other issues using a mixed analytic approach.
Determination of what constitutes the traits of effective teachers has also been contentious due to ideological and methodological differences. Whereas some evaluators view effective teachers as those teachers who use product oriented behavioural approach to instruction and help students perform well on the standardised tests, other authors deem effective teachers as those teachers who adopt a process oriented constructivist approach and help students personalise the meaning of learning tasks rather than achieve high scores on the standardised tests (Poplin & Soto-Hinman, 2006). The parameters with which to identify the traits of effective teachers also vary; some researchers focus only on effective teachers' personal traits (Tuckman, 1995), whereas other authors include both personal traits and instructional techniques (Demmon-Berger, 1986). The most comprehensive parameters encompass prerequisites, the person, classroom management, organising for instruction, implementing instruction, monitoring progress and potential, and professionalism (Stronge, 2002).
Furthermore, researchers disagree on how to use the results from teacher effectiveness research. Tuckman (1995) believed that it is constraining to use the research results for accountability purposes, such as certification, recertification, annual evaluation, and merit pay. Instead, it is more beneficial to use the knowledge base of teacher effectiveness for the purpose of self improvement. Doyle (1985) extended the significance of teacher effectiveness research to the application of effective models in training more effective teachers. In reality, all these purposes co-exist; teacher effectiveness research has been utilised for accountability, teacher training, as well as for practitioners' self renewal.
Regardless of how the assessment of teacher effectiveness is used, it is important to include students' perceptions of effective teachers in the knowledge base because students are the ones whose lives are most impacted by teacher effectiveness. Some researchers have demonstrated the importance of student perceptions of teacher effectiveness by showing how students' perceptions of teacher effectiveness differ from administrators' perceptions of teacher effectiveness (Krueger, 1997). Other authors have reported research findings that support the conclusion that "students do form very clear perceptions of their teachers, and that the students can report those perceptions of their teachers by identifying observable behaviours" (Whitfield, 1976, p.350).
Nevertheless, research into students' perceptions of effective teachers has mainly used either qualitative or quantitative approaches. Very few research projects have adopted the mixed method approach. In recent years, some research projects utilising the mixed method approach have yielded rich information about students' perceptions regarding characteristics of effective teachers (Greimel-Fuhrmann & Geyer, 2003; Minor, Onwuegbuzie, Witcher, & James, 2002; Witcher, Onwuegbuzie, Collins, Filer, Wiedmaier, & Moore, 2003; Witcher, Onwuegbuzie, & Minor, 2001); however, the focus of the study has either been college students' perceptions of their college professors (Greimel-Fuhrmann & Geyer, 2003; Witcher et al., 2003) or preservice teachers' perceptions of K-12 teachers (Minor et al., 2002; Witcher et al., 2001). Little attention has been paid to college students' retrospective views of their K-12 teachers. The current research attempts to fill this void by examining the characteristics of K-12 teachers from the college students' retrospective vantage point, using a mixed method approach. Findings from this research project will help both college professors and K-12 teachers better understand the experiences students had in their previous schooling and gain insight into students' preferred teacher characteristics.
In general, studies of effective teachers have followed two major trends; some researchers have focused on establishing the correlations between factors of effective teaching practice and student achievement, whereas other researchers have focused on identifying the characteristics of effective teachers. Thus far, studies of relationships have yielded findings in both cognitive and affective domains.
In the cognitive domain, teacher effectiveness was found to have positive impact on student achievement as measured by students' performance on standardised tests or other achievement tests. For example, Poplin and Soto-Hinman (2006) found that students' high scores on California Standards Test were related to teacher behaviours such as 'demanding,' 'fast paced,' and use of 'direction instruction and questioning strategies' (p.42). Stronge and Tucker (2001) also reported increases in students' score gains due to experienced teachers' high performing teaching behaviours. In another series of studies, McKeachie, Lin, and Mann (1971) used mean scores on a test of knowledge and on a test of thinking as measures of student achievement and examined the correlations of the mean scores with teacher effectiveness measures on six variables, such as Skill, Difficulty, Structure, Feedback, Interaction, and Rapport. Findings from this series of studies supported the conclusion that without regard to gender, Skill, Feedback, Interaction, and Rapport appeared to have positive correlations with students' mean scores on the test of knowledge, whereas Rapport tended to be positively correlated to students mean scores on the test of thinking (McKeachie, Lin, & Mann, 1971).
In the affective domain, effective teacher behaviours were found to have significant bearings on students' motivation, goal setting, selection of learning strategies, or interest in the course. Wentzel (2002), in a study that examined teachers' modelling of motivation and parenting dimensions when teaching six graders, reported that high expectations could positively predict students' goal setting and course interests, whereas negative feedback predicted social behaviour negatively. Another study investigated the correlation between teaching strategies and students' learning strategies. In this study, 500 secondary students were identified as either using deep approaches to learning (ie, using integrated strategies to gain personal meaning from learning tasks) or surface approaches to learning (ie, using error avoidance strategies and memorisation strategies without attending to meaning and organisation). Both groups of students were surveyed and interviewed concerning how they responded to different teaching strategies. When teachers used student centered strategies such as debates, games, or problem solving projects, students with both deep and surface learning strategies identified with the student centered aspects of the class. On the other hand, when teachers used the traditional transmission and reproduction of information, both groups of students focused on the transmission and reproduction of information aspects of learning (Campbell, Smith, Boulton-Lewis, Brownlee, Burnett, Carrington, & Purdie, 2001).
Primary research focusing on examining the perceptions of effective teachers has produced a bulk of literature that is both insightful and enlightening. McCabe (1995), in a qualitative research study, revealed that students perceived effective teachers to be those persons who were both 'human' yet 'professional,' both 'subject centered as well as student centered' (p.125). In another qualitative research project, Wray, Medwell, Fox, and Poulson (2000) used questionnaire, observations, and interviews to examine effective teachers' classroom behaviours as compared to ineffective teachers' classroom behaviours. The researchers discovered that effective teachers were more likely than ineffective teachers to contextualise the instructional materials, use explicit explanations and directions, and support higher order of thinking.
A survey study conducted by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) (1997) yielded an interesting finding that students between the ages of 13 and 17 ranked the traits of effective teachers differently than their counterparts from 1983. Whereas the 1983 students ranked their top three choices of effective teachers' traits as 'explaining things clearly,' 'spending time to help students,' and 'having a sense of humour,' the 1997 respondents ranked 'having a sense of humour' first, 'making the class interesting' second, and 'having knowledge of their subjects' third (p.16). This third trait was ranked as the seventh by the 1983 respondents (p.16).
Wimberly, Faulkner, and Moxley (1978) conducted a more comprehensive survey study focusing on students' responses to eight hypothesised dimensions of teacher effectiveness: (1) Considers rights and needs of students; (2) Contributes to students' intellectual growth; (3) Evaluates students' performances fairly; (4) Has command of the subject; (5) Stimulates students; (6) Has professional integrity; (7) Sets forth course objectives; and, (8) Transmits subject matter (p.9). Promax rotations and cluster analyses yielded five interpretable dimensions which were labelled as student development, teacher task responsiveness, respect for students, teacher capability, and encouragement to students.
In recent years, some mixed method studies have been conducted to examine students' perceptions of effective teachers' characteristics. Witcher, Onwuegbuzie, and Minor (2001) analysed 219 preservice students' responses to a questionnaire in which respondents were asked to define and rank between 3 to 6 characteristics of effective teachers. Utilising the phenomenological method, descriptive statistics, factor analysis, and canonical correlation analysis, the researchers found six emergent themes, namely, student centeredness, enthusiasm for teaching, ethicalness, classroom and behaviour management, teaching methodology, and knowledge of subject. In a slightly later study, Minor, Onwuegbuzie, Witcher, and James (2002) examined 134 preservice teachers' perceptions of effective teachers as well as their educational beliefs. The mixed method analyses revealed seven emergent themes: student centeredness, effective classroom and behaviour management, competent instructor, ethical, enthusiastic about teaching, knowledgeable about subject, and professional.
To confirm and extend the above mentioned mixed method studies, the current research investigates college students' rather than only preservice students' views about K-12 teachers' effectiveness by using a multi-stage mixed analysis in which both qualitative and quantitative data are obtained and analysed in an integrated manner.
To determine the reliability of the 10 Likert format question responses, Cronbach's coefficient alpha was conducted for students' responses to both forms combined and then for each form separately. This analysis yielded a coefficient alpha of .798 or .80 for the 10 items for both forms combined, a value substantially higher than needed for research purposes (cf. Nunnally & Bernstein, 1994). All 10 items had corrected item correlations that were positive and ranged in value from a low of .368 to a high of .565. The coefficient alpha for Form A was .79 and for Form B was .80. Thus, the internal consistency of participants' responses to the Likert format items was sufficiently high enough to be analysed and interpreted.
|Effective Teachers in K-12 settings||Agree-|
|are experts in their subject areas||47.1||39.1||13.8|
|are enthusiastic about teaching||52.6||35.5||11.9|
|do not discipline students||27.1||25.8||47.2|
|show concern for students||64.9||24.8||10.2|
|connect with students well||53.6||35.0||11.4|
|do not respect students' ideas||19.0||25.2||55.9|
|treat students fairly||53.4||31.1||15.5|
|do not present materials in a clear and understandable manner||17.4||31.3||51.3|
|use a variety of teaching strategies||68.3||23.1||8.6|
|do not return students' work on time||18.1||27.6||54.4|
As can be seen in Table 1, students agreed the most with the statements that effective K-12 teachers use a variety of teaching strategies (68.3%) and that effective K-12 teachers show concern for students (64.9%).
Next, statistical analyses were conducted to determine whether students' responses differed as a function of the survey form completed, their gender, whether they were a first generation college student, and whether they were a parent. Concerning the form of the survey completed, univariate analysis of variance (ANOVA) procedures were conducted. Statistically significant differences in responses were present for the items, 'Teachers show concern for students,' F (1, 408) = 4.465, p < .035, and 'Teachers connect with students well,' F (1, 408) = 6.898, p < .009. In both cases, students who completed Form A responded with more agreement to these items (higher scores indicate that students selected Agree and Strongly Agree more often than is indicated by lower scores) than did students who completed Form B. No statistically significant differences were present for the other effective teacher items, ps > .05. Descriptive statistics for this analysis are depicted in Table 2.
|Effective Teachers in K-12 settings:||Form A|
|are experts in their subject areas||3.48 (1.01)||3.37 (0.87)|
|are enthusiastic about teaching||3.59 (1.02)||3.47 (0.95)|
|do not discipline students||2.64 (1.20)||2.78 (1.16)|
|show concern for students||3.85 (0.91)||3.64 (1.06)|
|connect with students well||3.70 (0.92)||3.45 (1.02)|
|do not respect students' ideas||2.37 (1.14)||2.52 (1.17)|
|treat students fairly||3.58 (1.02)||3.49 (1.14)|
|do not present materials in a clear and understandable manner||2.56 (1.12)||2.45 (1.07)|
|use a variety of teaching strategies||3.87 (0.94)||3.82 (0.93)|
|do not return students' work on time||2.54 (1.12)||2.45 (1.12)|
Statistical analyses for student gender, whether they were a first generation college student, and whether they were a parent failed to yield any statistically significant differences, ps > .05.
Once the themes had been identified and typed into SPSS database, a frequency distribution was conducted for all of the best themes and for all of the poorest themes. This procedure permitted these researchers to identify the frequencies with which themes occurred. Because more than 100 individual words or phrases had been identified, a decision was made that a theme was present when it occurred a minimum of 21 times. The cut off point of 21 was used because it represented an endorsement rate of 5%, which translated to being close to a medium effect size (using Cohen's [1988, pp.180-183] non-linear arcsine transformation) - in turn, representing a near medium effect size, using Cohen's (1988) criteria.
This procedure eliminated many words or phrases which occurred only a few times across the 423 participants. Through this process, a total of 24 dominant themes were identified for students' best K-12 teachers. These themes and the frequencies with which each occurred are shown in Table 3.
|Female teacher mentioned in story||207||216|
|Male teacher mentioned in story||134||289|
|Teaches for understanding||83||340|
|Explains material well||73||350|
|Uses different modalities||49||374|
|Makes learning interesting||37||386|
|High school teacher mentioned||30||393|
For the first and second theme in Table 3, almost half of the participants mentioned that their best K-12 teacher was female, whereas slightly more than one fourth indicated that their best teacher was a male. Though not mentioned at a high level, participants indicated for the 18th theme that their best teacher was a high school teacher. Descriptors for the other 21 themes are presented in Table 4.
|Helping||Helpful, supportive, helped students reach their goal|
|Teaches well||Good teaching style, good teaching skills, detailed in explaining materials, assign meaningful work|
|Motivating||Give praises, inspiring, instill confidence, instill pride, motivated students|
|Teaches for understanding||Explains material in an understanding way, teach on students' level, made learning easy|
|Service||Go extra mile, serve students well, dedicated|
|Explains material well||Good explanation, explain well, explain in logical order|
|Caring||Kind, caring, compassionate, nurturing|
|Communication||Good communication skills, straight forward, clear, communicative|
|Fun||Funny, humorous, fun, make jokes|
|Good attitude||Nice, good personality, sweet, dynamic, enthusiastic|
|Builds relationships||Show interest in students, know about students and their families, spend time with students|
|Uses different modalities||Able to teach in different modalities, hands on activities, worked in groups, used journaling, conducted experiments|
|Challenges students||High expectation, challenge students, made students work to fullest potential|
|Makes learning interesting||Interesting, made learning interesting, not boring|
|Passion||Love job, passionate, passion and conviction|
|Involving||Involve students, engaging, interactive, participated with students|
|Being understanding||Understanding, understand students|
|Friendly||Treat students like friends, approachable, personable|
|Being respectful||Respect students, admire students, show respect|
|Being fair||Fair, impartial|
My best teacher would be my first grade teacher. She taught me how to write and read perfectly. She taught me how to multiply and add and made every math problem very easy, because she would explain everything step by step. She would even stay after school when I had a problem and made time for me even though she was not getting paid. She took me and three other students to Corpus Christi for three days, everything paid because that our reward since we were the top students of the whole elementary. (Hispanic female, 22 years of age, a Radiology major who is the first person in her family to go to college.)These stories provide additional imagery and power to the themes identified by this study. Both male and female teachers are represented as both male and female teachers were determined to be a significant theme in the mixed methods analysis. Thematic examples of caring, understanding, patience, helping, building of relationships with children, good attitude, being respectful, being fair, and friendliness are evident in the stories. Such traits illustrate the affect of positive personal traits on student perceptions of effective teacher characteristics.
My favorite teacher was my fourth grade teacher. He to me was the best I ever had because of the excitement he would bring to class everyday. The way he taught his class was awesome, he would explain every little as simply as it could be so that we could understand. Also, after some type of test or so he would treat the whole class to some kind of treat like giving us candy, or take out to play and even letting us watch a movie of some type. (Hispanic male, 19 years of age, a Radiology major.)
In 1995, in elementary, I had a professor who changed my life. I'm a Mexican American student who had very much trouble learning the English language. The professor pushed me, would talk to my parents. He was the person who guide me. Thanks to him I passed the reading and writing exam on the TAKS during 5th grade. (Hispanic female, 19 years of age, a Paralegal major.)
The best teacher I had, has motivate me to attending college and fulfilling my dreams and goals. She was there for me in my good and bad times involving my personal and educational life. She helped me understand that everything is possible with 'Ganas.' Having this teacher at school was like having my mother teaching me. (Hispanic male, 19 years of age, a Civil Draft major, first person in his family to go to college.)
It was my fourth grade teacher, he made it fun from all the subjects we learned. Each subject had a way to teach it. Everyday I wanted to go to school because he had a way of teaching the students. The day I finished the school year I didn't want to leave, he made it entertaining. (Hispanic male, 19 years of age, a Business major, first person in his family to go to college.)
Descriptions from the stories of particular teaching methods also provide examples to support results from the analysis. Traits such as teaches well, teaches for understanding, uses different modalities, explains well, communication, and makes learning interesting demonstrate student perceptions of effective teaching characteristics. Themes represented in the Best Teacher stories exemplifying student centeredness include motivating, challenges student, and involving. Illustrations from students of passionate and dedicated teachers, as well as teachers who go above and beyond what is asked for and expected, bridge the personal characteristics themes and the learned instructional skills themes identified as being those of effective K-12 teachers.
|Female teacher mentioned in story||156||267|
|Male teacher mentioned in story||140||283|
|Learning not occurring||94||329|
|Poor communication with students||79||344|
|Math teacher mentioned in story||32||391|
|Poor classroom management||28||395|
|Being unmotivated to teach||25||398|
|Does not use different modalities||23||400|
|High school teacher mentioned in story||22||401|
For participants' poorest teachers, similar to their best teachers, females were mentioned more often than males (first and second theme). This gender difference is probably reflective of the gender imbalance in schools. Interesting, though not present at high levels, were the presence of math teachers (8th theme) and of high school teachers (13th theme) being students' poorest teachers. The descriptors for other nine poorest teacher themes are presented in Table 6.
|Poor teaching||Disorderly notes on board, read word for word from the book, had students do the grading, test students on materials not taught, could not work out problems for students, told silly stories, couldn't lecture well|
|Learning not occurring||Did not do anything in class, told students to just read the book, students being left on their own|
|Unprofessional||Left class until class was almost over, was absent a lot, slept at desk, played on computer, talked on the cell phone, hit students with ruler|
|Poor communication with students||Did not explain well, did not explain assignment, did not speak English well, hard to understand, no expectations, vague, did not respond to students' attempt to contact the teacher|
|Uncaring||Did not care about student success, unwilling to help, no compassion, insensitive|
|Poor classroom management||Class being wild, did not have a hold on class, chaotic classroom, did not correct disruptive behavior|
|Being mean||Mean, harsh, hated students, made students miserable, took out things on students|
|Being unmotivated to teach||Not motivated to teach, only taught because they had to, did not care about teaching, did not care about the subject, teach for the paycheck|
|Does not use different modalities||Used worksheets every day, used only one modality when teaching|
My poorest teacher was my third grade teacher. She would never pay attention to what the students had to say when they had a problem. She would be very disrespectful and would scream at us if we didn't pass a test. She would not take her time to explain slowly and she even hit me with a ruler just because I was talking. (Hispanic female 22 years of age, a Radiology major who is the first person in her family to go to college.)Such powerful descriptions allow for context and illustration to be given to the poorest teacher characteristics themes. Female, male, and high school teachers are indicated in these stories, as they were in the best teacher stories. Yet, interestingly a particular subject was thematically significant for poorest teacher; math. No specific subject was identified as a theme in the best teacher descriptions. In addition to gender, school level, and subject stories from participants included groupings of personality traits, treatment of students, teaching skills, or lack thereof, and professional behaviour.
The poorest teacher that I ever had was my Algebra teacher back when I was seventh grader. She always put down any student that did not look or act like what she want, and if we were from other country we had to sit down in the back of the classroom. (Hispanic male, 21 years of age, a Secondary Education major, first person in his family to go to college.)
The poorest teacher I had was my second grade teacher. She was very mean with all of her students, and when someone didn't understand something she wouldn't care and keep going. At the middle of the semester she was fired and put to jail because she would put tape in the student's mouth so they could stop talking. She was the poorest teacher I ever had because she was very mean. (Hispanic female, 19 years of age, a Nursing major.)
My poorest teacher was in high school. He was a football coach and also my government teacher. All he could think about was the football games on Friday and how our team was going to beat the other. And, I hated that because I love the subject of government and I really wanted to know as much as possible. I would hate it sometimes going to his class because one we would hardly do anything in class and just goof off all the time. (Hispanic male, 19 years of age, a Radiology major.)
The poorest teacher was my 10th grade English teacher. She was not motivated at all. She would never teach us anything. All we did was read text books out loud. I seriously think that she did not take her job seriously. I hated going to her class. She could not explain the material she was teaching. (Hispanic male, 19 years of age, Undeclared major, first person in his family to go to college.)
Demonstrated in the stories are such themes as uncaring and being mean. Such traits illustrate the effect of negative personal traits on student perceptions of what effective teacher characteristics may or may not be. Also, evident from the stories are how teachers' negative traits affect students and how such effects are lasting.
Traits such as poor teaching, learning not occurring, poor communication, poor classroom management, and does not use different modalities demonstrate student perceptions of ineffective teaching skills and techniques. A theme represented in the Poorest Teacher stories that typifies the lack of passion and lack of dedication students describe is that of being unmotivated to teach. Lastly, the theme of unprofessional sums up many of the disappointing, unprincipled, and often distressing stories students shared.
A series of canonical discriminant analyses was conducted on this inter-respondent matrix to ascertain the extent to which a combination of best K-12 teacher themes and a combination of poorest K-12 teacher themes would discriminate, based on selected student demographic variables (ie, gender, first generation status, and survey form completed). These three independent variables were analysed separately through the use of an all possible subsets (APS) discriminant analysis procedure. In an APS discriminant analysis, all possible combinations of best K-12 teacher themes and all possible combinations of poorest K-12 themes would be examined, alone, in pairs, in triples, and so on, until the best possible combination of themes was identified. The criteria used in these analyses were Wilk's lambda, the probability level, the canonical correlation, and the standardised canonical discriminant function coefficients. In this study, we followed the recommendation of Onwuegbuzie and Daniel (2003) who strongly advised that researchers use canonical discriminant analysis instead of stepwise discriminant analysis because of the reliance of stepwise on probability level and optimal models not always being determined.
The first APS discriminant analysis involved gender as the independent variable and the set of best K-12 themes as potential discriminating variables. The resulting discriminant function was statistically significant, Chi squared(5) = 27.04, p < .001, and accounted for 100.0% of the between groups variance (canonical R = .25; Wilks's lambda = .94). The functions at the group centroids were -.29 for males and .23 for females. Readers are referred to Table 7 for the standardised canonical discriminant function coefficients and for the percentages to which males and females endorsed these discriminating variables. Using a cutoff loading of 0.3 (Lambert & Durand, 1975) for the standardised canonical discriminant function coefficients revealed that the five themes indicated in Table 7 contributed substantially to the canonical function, with the Female Teacher Described theme contributing the most.
|Passion for the job||0.44||4.9||10.8|
|Teaches for understanding||0.46||14.3||24.1|
|Female teacher described||0.60||59.3||44.0|
For the other best K-12 teacher story themes, the stories written by the sample of male and female students were similar in nature.
For the poorest K-12 teacher themes, the resulting discriminant function was statistically significant, Chi squared(2) = 9.11, p < .01, and accounted for 100.0% of the between groups variance (canonical R = .15; Wilks's lambda = .98). The functions at the group centroids were -.17 for males and .13 for females. The standardised canonical discriminant function coefficients and for the percentages to which males and females endorsed these discriminating variables are displayed in Table 8. Using a cutoff loading of 0.3 (Lambert & Durand, 1975) for the standardised canonical discriminant function coefficients revealed that the two themes indicated in Table 8 contributed substantially to the canonical function, with the 'Poor classroom management' theme contributing the most.
|Poor classroom management||0.84||3.3||9.5|
|Being unmotivated to teach||-0.55||8.2||4.3|
For the other poorest K-12 teacher story themes, the stories written by the sample of male and female students were similar in nature.
The APS canonical discriminant analysis did not reveal a statistically significant set of themes for either the best K-12 teacher themes or the poorest K-12 teacher themes between first generation and non-first generations college students in this study, ps > .05.
The final set of APS discriminant analyses involved the particular form of the survey, A or B, which students completed. For the best K-12 teacher themes, the resulting discriminant function was statistically significant, Chi squared(4) = 26.03, p < .001, and accounted for 100.0% of the between groups variance (canonical R = .24; Wilks's lambda = .94). The functions at the group centroids were -.25 for Form A and .25 for Form B. The standardised canonical discriminant function coefficients and for the percentages to which Form A participants and Form B participants endorsed these discriminating variables are displayed in Table 9. Using a cutoff loading of 0.3 (Lambert & Durand, 1975) for the standardised canonical discriminant function coefficients revealed that the four themes indicated in Table 9 contributed substantially to the canonical function, with the theme of Passion for the Job contributing the most.
|Form A||Form B|
|Passion for the job||0.54||4.8||11.3|
|Male teacher mentioned||0.51||25.7||37.6|
No differences were noted in the remaining best K-12 themes by the particular survey form completed.
The final APS analysis was for the poorest K-12 themes by survey form completed and yielded a statistically significant function, Chi squared(4) = 20.98, p < .001, which accounted for 100.0% of the between groups variance (canonical R = .22; Wilks's lambda = .95). The functions at the group centroids were -.23 for Form A and .22 for Form B. The standardised canonical discriminant function coefficients and for the percentages to which Form A participants and Form B participants endorsed these discriminating variables are displayed in Table 10. Using a cutoff loading of 0.3 (Lambert & Durand, 1975) for the standardised canonical discriminant function coefficients revealed that the four themes indicated in Table 10 contributed substantially to the canonical function, with the theme of 'Poor classroom management' contributing the most.
No differences were noted in the remaining poorest K-12 themes by the particular survey form completed.
Following the APS analyses, the number of themes participants had present in their stories were counted. Unlike the previous analyses in which the columns in the inter-respondent matrix were analysed, this time the number of 1s present across the 24 best teacher themes for each participant was summed. Similarly, the total number of poorest teacher themes was calculated by adding the number of 1s that were present across the 13 poorest teacher themes. Table 11 displays the means and standard deviations for the number of participants' endorsement of best and poorest teacher themes.
|Form A||Form B|
|Poor classroom management||0.67||2.9||10.3|
|Did not use different modality||-0.42||7.6||3.3|
|Math teacher mentioned||-0.32||9.5||5.6|
|Best teacher theme||3.60||1.82|
|Poorest teacher theme||2.19||1.50|
To determine whether participants differed in the number of themes they mentioned for their best teachers and for their poorest teachers, a three way analysis of variance (ANOVA) procedure was performed, using the total number of themes as the dependent variable and gender, first generation/non-first generation status, and survey form completed as the three independent variables. A statistically significant difference was present between males and females in the total number of themes, F (1, 398) = 9.18, p < .01. Females had more themes present (M = 6.16, SD = 2.49) than did males (M = 5.44, SD = 2.68) in their teacher stories. The effect size for this finding was .153, a small effect size (Cohen, 1988). No difference was present between first generation and non-first generation college students, F (1, 398) = 0.252, p = .616. Concerning the particular survey form completed, a statistically significant difference was also revealed, F (1, 398) = 4.98, p < .05. Form B participants had more themes present (M = 6.10, SD = 2.56) than did Form A participants (M = 5.59, SD = 2.62) in their teacher stories. The effect size for this finding was .110, a small effect size (Cohen, 1988). No interactions were revealed, ps > .05.
Next, two three way ANOVAS were conducted, using the total number of best K-12 teacher themes as the dependent variable and the three independent variables analysed above, followed by the total number of poorest K-12 teacher themes as the dependent variable. For the best K-12 teacher themes, a statistically significant difference was present between males and females, F (1, 398) = 10.90, p < .001. Females had more themes present (M = 3.87, SD = 1.71) than did males (M = 3.33, SD = 1.85) in their best K-12 teacher stories. The effect size for this finding was .166, a small effect size (Cohen, 1988). No difference was present between first generation and non-first generation college students, F (1, 398) = 0.669, p = .414, or between Form A and Form B participants, F (1, 398) = 1.38, p = .241.No interactions were revealed, ps > .05.
For the poorest K-12 teacher themes, no difference was present between males and females, F (1, 398) = 1.71, p = .192. Similarly, no difference was present between first generation and non-first generation college students, F (1, 398) = 0.011, p = .915. A statistically significant difference in the number of poorest K-12 teacher themes was present, however, between Form A and Form B participants, F (1, 398) = 6.02, p < .05. Form B students had more themes present in their poorest K-12 teacher stories (M = 2.38, SD = 1.54) than did students who completed Form A (M = 2.03, SD = 1.42) for the Form B students. The effect size for this finding was .123, a small effect size (Cohen, 1988). No interactions were revealed, ps > .05.
Two open ended questions were given to participants asking to describe their best and poorest K-12 teacher. Qualitative analysis of best K-12 teacher yielded 24 dominant themes. The themes, in order of frequency are: Female teacher, Male teacher, Helping, Teaches WELL, Motivating, Teaches for understanding, Service, Explains material well, Caring, Communication, Fun, Good attitude, Builds relationships, Uses different modalities, Challenges students, Makes learning interesting, Passion, High school teacher, Involving, Being understanding, Friendly, Being respectful, and Being fair.
Researchers conducting this study identified more effective K-12 teacher characteristic themes than the two aforementioned studies. Additional and more specified effective characteristics emerged from the analyses in the current student. Themes from this study that overlap with the Witcher et al. study (2001) are: student centeredness corresponding to our helping, motivating, service, caring, builds relationships, involving, being understanding, and friendly themes; enthusiasm for teaching similar to our service, good attitude, and passion themes; ethicalness corresponding to our themes of being respectful and being fair; classroom and behaviour management corresponding to our theme of communication; and teaching methodology similar to our identified themes of teaches well, teaches for understanding, explains material well, communication, uses different modalities, challenges students, makes learning interesting, and involving.
Characteristics of K-12 teachers that render them ineffective are antithesis to what traits effective teachers should show. Themes identified in this portion of the study that are opposite of what the Minor et al. (2002) study identified as effective characteristics of K-12 teachers are: student centeredness against our uncaring; effective classroom and behaviour management opposed to poor communication with students and poor classroom management; competent instructor versus poor teacher, learning not occurring, and does not use different modalities; ethical and professional in opposition to our themes of being mean and unprofessional; and enthusiastic about teaching versus our identified themes of uncaring and being unmotivated to teach.
Differences were also revealed in themes between male and female students. Demographic characteristics of participants may influence, as they did in this study, the responses they make to open ended questions, as well as to other types of qualitative data collection procedures. Researchers need to be sensitive to participant characteristics that may influence findings. To the extent that the participant characteristics constitute a variable of interest, analyses, even simple frequencies, should be conducted to determine whether relationships are present. To the extent that the participant characteristics are not a variable of interest, this situation could result in the presence of a confounding variable(s).
Additionally, those persons who design assessment and evaluation instruments may choose to factor in themes identified from this study, both positive and negative. Classroom evaluations administered to students may also become more relevant and common place. Such instruments could be developed on an age appropriate basis and target thematic areas that emerged from our study.
Students' perceptions of what characteristics make K-12 teachers effective or ineffective are both valid and lasting. Whitfield (1976) affirmed that students can link specific and observable behaviours of teachers to the perceptions the student has of that teacher. As seen by the examples of Best and Poorest Teacher stories in this study, students can blossom or wither because of the affects, behaviours, and methods of a particular teacher. A teacher can positively and negatively affect students both in and outside the classroom. How one teacher treats or teaches a child has rippling effects that permeate and continue throughout the individual's educational journey.
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|Authors: Jinhao Wang EdD is a recent graduate of the doctoral program in Educational Leadership at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.|
Angela Gibson is currently a doctoral student in Educational Leadership at TAMUK.
John R. Slate PhD is a Professor in Educational Leadership and Counseling with interests in mixed research. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please cite as: Wang, J., Gibson, A. M. & Slate, J. R. (2007). Effective teachers as viewed by students at a 2 year college: A multistage mixed analysis. Issues In Educational Research, 17(2), 272-295. http://www.iier.org.au/iier17/wang.html