AN ANALYSIS OF FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE BEGINNING TEACHERS’ TEACHING COMPETENCY
A literature review concerning teacher quality indicates that there is a core body of knowledge and skills with which a teacher must be equipped with to develop competencies of effective teaching (Darling-Hammond & Baratz-Snowden, 2005; Ryan & Cooper, 2007). A key distinction between beginning and experienced teachers is in the degree of sophistication that teachers exhibited in their application of this set of teaching competencies.
3,353 beginning teachers (1-3 teaching years) participated in an online survey. There were 1689 (51%) primary and 1664 (49%) secondary beginning teachers. Data for this study was obtained from a quality evaluation project at the National Institute of Education (NIE), Singapore. The project’s key aim is to provide baseline information to inform and improve NIE’s initial teacher education programs and the planning of professional development programs for beginning teachers. While the main study covers a wider scope, this paper explores the factors underlying the beginning teachers’ perceptions of their teaching competencies.
The analysis was in two parts. First, we confirmed that the tool provides a reliable and valid measure. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) was performed, which validated an item structure that clustered into five factors: Lesson Planning (LP), Use of ICT (ICT), Instructional Strategies (IS), Classroom Management (CM), and Assessment and Feedback (AF). Descriptive statistics of the quantitative data were applied. Parameter estimates were generated using maximum likelihood and tests of goodness of fit. Chi-square accompanied by degrees of freedom, sample size, p-value and the root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) were used as indices of absolute fit. Hancock’s coefficient H was calculated as a reliability measure. The second part of the analysis focused on a hypothesized path model of the relationships between the factors and how they contributed to a beginning teachers’ preparedness to teach.
Overall, the participants had positive attitudes, as shown by the mean score for each factor being 3.5 and above (on a 5-point scale) and CFA model fit indices showed that the data fitted the factor structures well and had good internal consistency of subscales. Analysis of the path model hypothesized had a good model fit, with all pathways in the model significant at p < .01. The model showed a dynamic relationship between factors. Good LP impacted all aspects of classroom strategies - IS, CM and ICT in terms of choice of teaching strategies and tools used. Their choice of IS also impacted the ICT tools incorporated and CM strategies. AF was an important driver for the beginning teachers to review and improve upon their classroom strategies as it played an important role in garnering information regarding their students’ learning and understanding. Data gathered as part of this study will be used to inform teacher development programs as well as teacher induction programs of impeding factors and areas to facilitate support for beginning teachers. Possible implications will be presented and discussed.
Darling-Hammond, L. & J. Baratz-Snowden. (2005). A Good Teacher in Every Classroom: Preparing the Highly Qualified Teachers our Children Deserve. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.
Ryan, K., & Cooper, J. M. (2007). Those who can, teach (11th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.