Exploring Stages of Effective Teaching: Implications for Teacher Formative Assessment Towards Improvement of Teaching Skills
The special issue aims to bring together research papers that provide empirical justification for the notion of developmental stages of teaching skills.
Dr. Panayiotis AntoniouUniversity of CyprusDr. Jérôme St-AmandUniversité du Québec
Special issue information:
Over the last few years, the demand for improving the quality of teaching and learning and for increasing accountability have put issues related with teacher evaluation and effective professional development high on the agenda of educators, researchers and policymakers. The underlying rationale is that high-quality teacher professional development could facilitate the improvement of teaching practices, which could in turn translate into higher levels of student achievement (Borko et al., 2010; Cohen & Hill, 2001; Darling-Hammond & McLaughlin, 1995; Desimone, 2009; Supovitz, 2001; Van Veen, Zwart, & Meirink, 2011).
However, despite the recognition of its importance and of the pressures emanating from higher-stakes accountability systems, most professional development opportunities remain fragmented, poorly aligned with curricula and inadequate to meet teachers’ needs (Borko, 2004; Cohen & Hill, 2001; Weiss & Pasley, 2006). In this context, each year, schools, districts and educational systems spend a considerable amount of money and resources on in-service seminars and other forms of professional development, which are intellectually superficial and do not take into account the knowledge base of effective teaching and the needs and improvement priorities of different groups of teachers (Antoniou & Kyriakides, 2013; Ball & Cohen, 1999; Kyriakides et al, 2009).
In light of this , the proposed special issue aims to bring together research papers that provide empirical justification for the notion of developmental stages of teaching skills. If we could identify teacher evaluation frameworks that reveal specific developmental stages of teaching skills, then policy development could be directed to the subsequent implications, such as the establishment of different training courses to address the needs of certain teachers, according to their developmental stage. For example, previous research findings in Cyprus in three different school subjects (i.e. Greek language, mathematics and religious education), revealed the grouping of factors at the teacher level of the dynamic model of educational effectiveness. More specifically, the findings revealed that the teaching skills could be classified into five stages, structured in a developmental order and associated with student outcomes (Antoniou & Kyriakides, 2013; Kyriakides et al., 2009).
The rationale is that improvement of teaching skills takes place gradually. Teachers must master simple but necessary routines, such as teaching skills related to a “direct teaching approach” in order to move to the higher stages involving the use of “new teaching approaches” and differentiation. As argued by Combs et al. argue, as early as in 1974, “in the first place, it is a fallacy to assume that the methods of the experts either can or should be taught directly to beginners” (p.4). We probably need to think through the scope and sequence of teacher education experiences in the same way and with the same care that we develop scope and sequence guides for students from kindergarten to the twelfth grade (Antoniou, 2015). Decision-making, priority setting and other aspects demonstrating personal control over the environment are characteristic of the developmental stage of competent teacher, rather than that of a novice. The question that must be raised while the personnel in preservice programs of teacher education struggle to develop reflective practitioners, sensible decision-makers and proficient problem solvers is whether those are proper goals for teachers who are more experienced than the novices in those preservice programs. The research on the development of expertise suggests that we have not recognized the limitations of the novice and the potential for growth of the advanced beginner and competent teacher as we develop teacher professional development programs. However, all the stages are of fundamental importance to the professional development of teachers, and educators must be capable of intervening at all stages.
The basic assumption of the proposed special issue is that in any effort to train teachers, an initial evaluation of teaching skills should take place, in order to investigate the extent to which the teachers possess certain teaching skills and at the same time identify important teaching skills that could be further developed. Thus, the results of this study aim to promote the establishment of an actual link between the evaluation of teaching skills (and the identification of specific teaching needs and weaknesses) with the content and structure of professional development programs. In addition, an important issue, in terms of practicability, might be whether it is possible to develop a simple measuring instrument in order to place the teachers at a specific developmental stage according to their teaching behavior and skills.
Therefore, the proposed special issue could provide valuable insights related with the extent to which teacher evaluation can be used for formative purposes in improving teaching practices and student attainment, by looking at teachers from the perspective of the different and distinctive developmental stages. This may also add validity to scientific analyses of how teachers function, and may broaden our view of what makes a “good” teacher.
Range of topics:
Stages of Effective Teaching
Linking Teacher Evaluation with Teacher Professional Development
Developing quality of teaching
Improving teacher practices and student attainment based on teacher evaluation results