Potato, Pot-Ar-To. Tomato, Tom-Ar-To: Is Teacher Quality and Teaching Quality the Same?

Potato, Pot-Ar-To. Tomato, Tom-Ar-To: Is Teacher Quality and Teaching Quality the Same?

Donna M. Velliaris (University of South Australia, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1067-3.ch018
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Abstract

Research on school effectiveness largely relates to ways of measuring the quality of a school, which is often quantified in terms of students' ‘academic' achievement. The impetus for this research was the recognition that as a pre-university pathway provider, the lecturers at the Eynesbury Institute of Business and Technology (EIBT) face increasingly complex and divergent academic challenges stemming from its 98-100% international student demographic. An anonymous survey comprising two open-ended questions was distributed to EIBT staff for reflection. Rich narrative data from 10 respondents elucidates varied understanding(s) of the difference(s) between ‘teacher' and ‘teaching' quality, as well as recommendations for their own Professional Development (PD). It is the author-practitioner's belief that institutional advancement requires greater attention to ‘teaching' rather than ‘teachers', and that PD is a collective effort that is fundamental to overall scholastic success.
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Introduction

Teacher quality may be thought of as the personal traits, skills, and understandings an individual brings to teaching, including dispositions to certain behaviour(s). Indeed, teaching quality is a function of teacher quality. The traits desired of a teacher, however, may vary depending on conceptions of and goals for education. Thus, it may be productive to think of teacher qualities as those associated with what teachers are expected to be and do; ‘[e]ffective teachers can be seen, heard, and sensed’ (Stronge, 2007). On the other hand, ‘[w]e may define good [quality] teaching as instruction that leads to effective learning, which in turn means thorough and lasting acquisition of the knowledge, skills, and values the instructor or the institution has set out to impart’ (Felder & Brent, 1999, p. 10).

According to Darling-Hammond (2009, p. 3), a ‘high-quality’ teacher may not be able to offer high-quality instruction in a context where there is a mismatch in terms of the demands of the situation and their knowledge and skills. In other words, a high-quality teacher in one circumstance may not be so for another. For example, an able teacher asked to teach subject matter for which they are unprepared may teach poorly; or a teacher who is effective at the elementary school level may be unable to teach at the secondary school level; or a teacher who is able to teach high-ability students may be unable to teach those who struggle to grasp concepts.

Even when a high-quality teacher faces obstacles such as: few opportunities for collegial collaboration; an inadequate or out of-date library; lack of equipment; limited teaching and learning resources; minimal opportunit(ies) for Professional Development (PD); overcrowded classrooms; and/or a poor curriculum, the quality of their teaching can be suboptimal (Darling-Hammond, 2009). Thus, hiring knowledgeable teachers, but asking them to teach out-of-field without the aforementioned tools, is likely to diminish their teaching quality and thus, student learning.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Course: A syllabus item offered by EIBT or one subject leading to an EIBT diploma award (8-courses required for graduation). Such courses are identified by a subject area and catalogue number e.g., ECON1008 is a first-year ‘Principals of Economics’ course.

Acculturation: In its simplest sense, this includes the changes that arise following contact between/among individuals from a different cultural background. This may lead to progressive adoption of elements of the other culture (e.g., ideas, words, values and/or behaviours).

Learning Environment: Refers to the physical setting in which a learner or community of learners carry out their work, including all the tools, documents and other artefacts to be found in that setting and the physical setting, but also the social/cultural setting for such work.

Eynesbury Institute of Business and Technology (EIBT): EIBT offers full fee-paying pre-university pathways for predominantly international students entering one of two South Australian higher education institutions: The University of Adelaide ; or University of South Australia .

Pathway Provider: Educational institutions that specialise in offering students alternative forms of entry into university programs. Applicants may include: early school leavers; those that have not achieved the academic and/or English requirements to obtain direct entry; or students looking to return to study after a period of absence.

Professional Development (PD): The process of improving and increasing capabilities of staff through access to education and training opportunities in the workplace, through outside organisations, and/or through watching others perform the job as examples. PD helps build and maintain morale and is thought to attract higher quality staff to an organisation.

International Student(s): Individuals enrolled in the Eynesbury Institute of Business and Technology (EIBT) on temporary student visas and who are almost exclusively Non-English Speaking Background (NESB). An international applicant must be eligible for an Australian student visa and may be liable for international tuition fees. Students are not ‘international’ if they are an Australian citizen, Australian dual citizen, Permanent Resident (PR) of Australia, and/or a New Zealand citizen studying in Australia.

Articulation: This is the process by which a university matches its courses or requirements to coursework completed at another institution e.g., EIBT. Students use course articulation to assure that courses they have previously completed will not have to be repeated at the institution to which they wish to transfer.

Pedagogy: The art and science of teaching, and not in its narrower sense of teaching the ‘young’. Its common usage is now sufficiently broad that there is no need to import the word ‘andragogy’, a term which has only limited currency in the mainstreams of HE practice.

Recognised Tertiary Education Provider: An education provider registered by the relevant government authority to deliver tertiary awards.

Diploma: An EIBT diploma comprises 8-courses that take between 6-months and 2-years to complete. Diplomas are generally considered equivalent to first-year at the degree level. Such diplomas in Australia are delivered by universities, technical colleges and other private Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).

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