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Teaching Methodologies in Foreign Regions

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Although many experts feel they can easily identify excellent teachers, it has proven extraordinarily difficult to determine exactly which teacher characteristics contribute to desired student outcomes (Medley and Shannon 1994). Imig and Imig (2006) clarified some of the controversy that surrounds this area of research, especially in the United States. They identified two movements in U.S. education: the “essentialists” and “the progressives.” Essentialists, they said, focus on content and on student learning. “Teachers are responsible for leading whole classes of students and for the setting of high expectations and directing student learning toward measurable ends” (p. 168). In contrast, the progressives advocate child-centered curricula, constructivist approaches, and the consensus of experts to define high-quality education.

Studies in this section are divided into three general groups: those using traditional methods of research; those using value-added approaches; and those using observations, interviews, or ethnographic approaches. Note that these loose categories frequently overlap somewhat.

study, Avalos and Haddad (1981) summarized reviews of teacher effectiveness research in seven regions of the world, noting,

“There is little or no agreement about what to expect from teachers, even within any one setting. Quality has meant different things at different times and expectations range over a wide spectrum” (p. 7). In the study, teacher effectiveness “was loosely defined in terms of the changes which take place in the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of individuals and communities as a result of teacher involvement” (p. 14). Avalos and Haddad divided the reviews according to factors relating to the teaching situation: teacher factors such as age, ability, knowledge, and experience; and school system characteristics, such as location, of studying the interaction between different cultural variables and teaching methods. Among the authors who emphasized teachers’ professionalism, Rizvi and Elliott (2005) identified four dimensions: teacher efficacy, teacher practice, teacher leadership, and teacher collaboration. Cheung’s research reported on the measurement of teacher efficacy in Hong Kong and defined it as the extent to which teachers believe they will be successful in influencing how well students learn. “Efficacious teachers are more likely to stay in teaching, put more time into teaching and show greater effort in classroom planning and organization and greater enthusiasm for teaching” (Cheung 2006, p. 436). Cheung found that female teachers were significantly more efficacious than male teachers, that years of experience were weakly but significantly related to levels of efficacy, and that educational level did not have a significant effect on the efficacy level of this group of teachers.

Value-added methodologies are designed to assist in learning what part of a student’s performance on a standardized test can be attributed to the effect of the teacher.6 This kind of methodology has two key characteristics: The use of gain scores rather than absolute scores. It has always been difficult to interpret test scores for individual students or groups of students because they do not give information about characteristics of the students’ backgrounds, socioeconomic status, family interactions, etc. In addition, it cannot be discerned from a single score whether management, resources, syllabus, and salary. They reported that most research related teacher variables to the teaching situation and that “All studies assumed relationships to be unidirectional, from teacher to pupils, as well as linear” (p. 32). A few of their key findings are summarized below: *Training and certification were found to have an effect on student achievement, and “training was also found to be important in producing teacher behavioral changes assumed or empirically attested to be positively related to achievement” (p. 2). * The effect of higher qualifications (university graduates versus teachers with fewer years of study) was not clear, with well-designed studies finding a positive effect in some countries and not in others.

*Some methods of teacher training—including microteaching,5 simulation, role playing,and the use of case studies—were consistently reported to be effective in promoting changes in teaching techniques. *Female teachers were generally reported to be “better-adjusted and more job-satisfied” (p. 34). *Among teacher attitudes, the impact of negative teacher expectations was noted. *The “discovery-inquiry” method proved in many cases to be superior for promoting higher levels of cognitive skills. *In some countries, the “indirect” mode of teaching was related to achievement, and in others not. In this respect, the authors mentioned the desirability a given student has shown any growth since the previous year. Value-added approaches commonly compare the score obtained by the student the previous year to the score obtained in the present year to produce a gain score. Use of the gain score assists in controlling for many of the student and school variables that may influence achievement, as well as in indicating the growth the student has made between the two test administrations.

Thus, this approach makes it possible to separate the impact of a teacher in a given grade on student test performance from the influence of teachers in previous grades. *The use of complex statistical procedures to assist in isolating the effect of the teacher. Value-added methodologies use the gain score concept, but in most instances also add complex statistical methodologies to control for as many of the variables that are influencing the student’s gain score as possible. Braun (2005) explained value-added models in nonstatistical language in a small handbook for the Educational Testing Service. The handbook includes many cautions for the lay reader.

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