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Determining the effectiveness of a teacher professional preparation course by examining the transfer of complex models of teaching by newly graduated teachers

Shelleyann Scott and Robert. G. Baker
Curtin University of Technology
The area of research interest in this study was the degree of transfer by newly graduated teachers of complex macroskills or Models of Teaching (Joyce & Weil, 1996) into their ongoing classroom practice. These skills are taught in the Graduate Diploma of Education, a one-year intensive professional preparation course for students who have completed an undergraduate degree in their particular field of interest. Outcomes of the study have been an assessment of the success of a coalescent curriculum structure specifically focussing on the teaching of complex skills in order to optimise the levels of transfer of teaching strategies within such a program and implications for further research.

The population surveyed in this two year long study comprised all graduates of the 1994 and 1995 Graduate Diploma of Education course who were in their first year of teaching at the time of the study. The information sought was collected by means of a telephone survey using a structured interview schedule utilising both open ended and rating type questions.

This research found a higher rate of transfer of complex strategies than that reported in similar studies drawn from a review of the literature (Joyce & Showers, 1995; Joyce & Weil, 1996). The transfer rate emerged as relatively uniform across the two cohorts. In the 1995 sample a total of seventy two percent of the newly graduated teachers and sixty five percent of the 1996 group transferred at least one complex macroskill into their regular classroom practice. A third of the total number of respondents in both populations implemented three strategies with some being successful with five different complex models. Gender appeared to a factor affecting the ability to incorporate new learning into an individual's regular teaching skills. Approximately three quarters of the female teachers transferred complex teaching models compared with just over half of their male counterparts.

Those novice teachers who successfully utilised two or more complex strategies in their regular teaching practices appeared to exhibit high levels of self efficacy, sound self reflection techniques, and reported feeling more in control and less stressed than their colleagues.


Introduction

The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of the teaching skills unit in a one-year intensive teacher preparation course. The students enter the course having previously completed a three-year degree in their particular field of interest. There are two teaching skills units in this course, the first introduces the students to basic teaching micro-skills such as structuring lessons, using variability in gestures, media and materials, classroom management, transitions, public speaking, self reflection etc, and the second unit introduces more complex models of teaching (using Joyce & Weil, 1996 as the set text).

Background

This study followed a previous project conducted with graduate teachers in 1994 (Baker & Scott, 1995; Baker, Scott & Showers, 1997). In that earlier study, graduates of the one-year teacher preparation program were interviewed regarding their transfer of a selection of microskills, such as, public speaking characteristics, classroom management skills, lesson preparation and transitions (Turney, Eltis, Hatton, Owens, Towler, Wright, Cairns & Williams, 1987; Arends, 1994) and two selected teaching strategies (Concept Attainment and Taba's Inductive Thinking Model from a set text: Joyce & Weil, 1986, 1996). The findings revealed high transfer of the microskills (80-90%), and transfer rates of 30-40% for the two complex teaching strategies. These results, while not entirely desirable for professional preparation programs, were higher than those reported in the literature (Joyce & Weil, 1986; Showers & Joyce, 1996) and would normally be expected from preservice programs which do not involve any continuing support for graduates in the field. A major goal of this current research was to find out why this was the case, if this higher transfer rate was consistent across year groups and with other models that are taught.

Sample

The sample was drawn from graduates of the 1994 and 1995 Graduate Diploma of Education course of one university who were employed as teachers during the 1995 and 1996 school years. The response rate was high in the study with almost all the graduates (one declined in the first year due to illness), who had obtained teaching positions, agreeing to become involved. This resulted in the sample actually being the entire population. The interviews, in both years, were eight months into the school year, ten months after the students had completed their preservice program. This meant that the majority of the sample had approximately eight months of teaching experience at the time of the survey.

Over half (60%) of the 1994 graduates obtained country teaching positions contrasting with under half (44%) the following year. The number and distribution of graduates in particular subject areas successfully gaining teaching employment were quite different across the two years. There were six English respondents in 1994 and slightly fewer in 1995 (5). Mathematics numbers employed increased from four teachers to five teachers the following year. There was a dramatic increase in language graduates employed, from two in 1994 to five the following year, similarly with science, with six teachers employed the first year and eleven the next. The number of Social studies teachers employed remained relatively stable in both years with four the first year and three the next. Art teachers did not fare well in the employment stakes with only three graduates gaining teaching positions in the first year and one contacted but none interviewed the following year. The number of Computer Education teachers employed, dropped from five to one, while Business Education numbers remained the same at two teachers across both years.

The vast majority of the 1995 sample teachers were in the 20-29 year age group (72%) with the rest of the sample evenly spread across the other age groups of 30-39 years of age (16%) and 40-49 years of age (13%). The first category age range was similar in the following 1996 sample with seventy one percent in the 20-29 year age group. However, the distribution in the other categories were slightly different with only six percent in the 30-39 years of age, fifteen percent in the 40-49 years of age group and nine percent in the 50-59 years of age group.

The gender distribution trend was similar across both sample groups displaying more females than males. There were nineteen females in the first sample and twenty four in the second g roup and thirteen males compared to ten in the second group.

Literature review

Two major processes were involved in the skills development unit under examination in this research study; (1) the development of specific teaching/learning skills; and (2) appropriate reflective practices. These were not separate processes but rather intertwined in the educational procedures. The other aspect explored was the knowledge base in the teacher preparation program comprised of Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory (1986), complex teaching strategies or Models of Teaching (Joyce & Weil, 1996) and humanistic ideals of creating appropriate learning environments. There were approximately eleven strategies or Models of Teaching taught in the skills units in the professional preparation program. It is often assumed that when an individual undertakes a course of study there will be a resultant change in knowledge and/or behaviour on the part of the student. This assimilation and resultant change in understanding and/or behaviours or 'the process that enables us to make previously learned responses in new situations is called transfer' (Gage & Berliner, 1992, p. 352). Study of this process has been conducted by educational psychologists such as Jerome Bruner and David Ausubel (Woolfolk, 1993; Gage & Berliner, 1992). Bruner believed that 'meaningful learning' occurred when students grasped the structure of a field of study (the nature of fundamental ideas and how they related to one another) and 'when they discover[ed] these relationships themselves' (Biehler & Snowman, 1993, pp. 440-443). Similarly, Ausubel believed meaningful learning occurred when the information received was organised in such a way that it enabled easy assimilation into current knowledge schema in order for students to formulate a 'meaningful learning set' (Biehler & Snowman, 1993, pp. 440-443).

Albert Bandura (1986) felt that there may be factors involved in the learning process other than purely cognitive. He stated that 'while learning may have occurred, it may not be demonstrated until the situation is right' where personal factors such as motivation and thinking may interact with environmental and behavioural factors in the process of learning (Woolfolk, 1993, p. 220). As a result of his research Bandura developed the Social Cognitive Theory, an expanded perspective, which emphasised that learning could take place through the observation of others (Bandura, 1986; Biehler & Snowman, 1993). The four important elements in observational learning were 1) attention - focussing on the item or skill that is to be learnt; 2) retention - remembering through mental rehearsing or practice; 3) production - practice, feedback and coaching in order to refine performance of behaviours (self efficacy, belief that we are capable of performing the behaviour, is developed through practice); and 4) motivation and reinforcement - once the behaviour has been learned it may not be performed unless there is the required motivation to do so. Reinforcement is when the learned behaviour produces a reaction either positive or negative. Positive reinforcement is important if the behaviour is to be maintained and promoted. (Woolfolk, 1993, pp. 221-222).

Following his initial work Bandura identified a further key element which had up to that time been missing, that of self belief. He postulated that these belief structures exerted a measure of control or influence over an individual's actions and feelings similar to the adage of 'the power of positive thinking'. He associated this with the 'distinctly human' ability of self-referent or self-reflective thinking which enabled the individual to analyse and alter their cognitive processes and resultant behaviour. Therefore, behaviour is linked to three key aspects, that of knowledge and skills, outcome expectations (a prediction of the likely consequence of a particular behaviour or action), and self efficacy beliefs. He specified that the latter is a strong 'predictor of behaviour' due to its mediational role, however, it is an extremely complex relationship (Pajares & Kranzler, 1995).

Effective teaching and learning processes in teaching skills development

During the 1970s, Joyce and Showers found, while evaluating staff development programs, as few as ten percent of the teachers would transfer new learning into regular classroom use even when the teachers had volunteered for the program. Some of the possible reasons initially formulated for this low success rate was 'attributed to "flaws" in the motivation, effort, and attitudes of the teachers' (Showers & Joyce, 1996, p. 13). These results led to further investigation into why staff development programs were relatively ineffective. They followed teachers through inservice teaching/learning procedures and found that nearly all of them had the ability to refine existing skills and were able to learn new strategies. However, for these new approaches to teaching to be successfully incorporated into existing 'repertoire' certain conditions were necessary.

Joyce and Showers (Joyce & Weil, 1986, p. 478), through their research in developing skills and strategies in teacher education, identified the following five steps as major components which have been found to be effective in a teaching/learning program

  1. Presentation of theory or description of skill or strategy;
  2. Modelling or demonstration of skills or Models of Teaching;
  3. Practice in simulated and classroom settings;
  4. Structured and open ended feedback (provision of information about performance);
  5. Coaching for application (hands on, in classroom assistance with the transfer of skills and strategies to the classroom);
  6. Generating a 'learning how to learn' effect (the more learning takes place, the more the ability to learn increases)
When examining these six steps, the similarities to Bandura's (1986) Social Cognitive Theory becomes clear. The Social Cognitive Theory's essential aspects of modelling, practice, feedback and coaching have been incorporated into the first five steps of Joyce and Showers' necessary components for effective teaching and learning processes. Since these components were identified, Joyce & Showers have been concentrating on the fifth phase of training - coaching. In their earlier study they felt that follow-up on site coaching may increase the transfer significantly. In their trials they initially believed that the coach needed to have higher levels of expertise, hence Showers herself acted as the coach. Subsequent to this first study, the inservice teachers were grouped into small self-support teams who coached each other (PCST - Peer Coaching Study Teams).

These trials proved highly successful, establishing without a doubt that coaching did indeed make a significant difference. In a follow-up of the initial study, which was conducted six months after coaching ceased, including a nine week summer vacation period, the long term effects of coaching were confirmed (Baker & Showers, 1984). Seventy percent of the coached teachers had transferred their inservice teaching/learning preparation to their classroom practice compared with none of the uncoached teachers. Using a whole school approach to school and teacher development (involving peer coaching teams), Showers now achieves approximately ninety percent transfer of teaching/learning processes and measures this impact in terms of significantly improved student learning outcomes (Joyce & Showers, 1995). As the professional preparation program this study was examining, does not have the facility to provide on-going support in the form of coaching or any influence on the environment graduates are placed within, the best that could have been expected, from the these previous studies on transfer, was around ten percent.

The transfer of new learning into regular classroom practice

Transfer refers to the ability of an individual to learn something new, either a skill or knowledge or where a previously learned skill or concept facilitates the learning of a similar new skill (Joyce, Weil & Showers, 1992). Transfer of skills from a practical setting to the classroom environment is not a straight-forward process. Complex skills gained in a 'simulated workplace' may not necessarily be automatically transposed directly into a 'real world situation'. These newly acquired strategies require modification to fit the particular needs of a class and curriculum. Transfer of new repertoire into classroom practice requires several elements of learning: Successful transfer dictates the need for practice of the newly acquired skill. This in itself may be an obstacle as the application of the new strategy is often uncomfortable especially if it requires the 'unlearning' or dropping of particular existing repertoire which impede the new strategy. However, with continued practice the strategy becomes more fluid and gradually feels as comfortable as the old one, especially as the teacher feels 'in control' and the students become familiar with it (Joyce & Showers, 1982, pp. 5-6).

If the trainee uses the newly acquired skill in a 'real' setting exactly as it was learned in the workshop environment, with no modifications, the learning is referred to as 'horizontal transfer' (Joyce & Weil, 1996, p. 381). This is the case when a model lesson, developed in the preservice or workshop situation, is used with no changes in the classroom, or where the workplace environment does not require much adaptation of the strategy for it to work. In teaching, however, this is rarely the case as each class is comprised of students with individual needs and abilities. Teachers are often required to teach differing subjects across various age groups and, occurring more and more, are required to be multiskilled, thereby teaching two or three different subject areas during the one semester. These differing scenarios require the teacher to develop a capacity to adapt or modify the models to suit the unique situation in which he/she is teaching. If the teacher is able to successfully modify the strategy to suit these various factors then a higher level of 'vertical transfer' has been achieved. This higher level of transfer will only occur if the teacher perseveres with the new skill even though encountering the occasional failure and through the initial 'uncomfortable' stage (Joyce & Weil, 1996, pp. 385-390).

Eventually, the teacher persisting in implementing the model acquires 'executive control' over the model. This means he/she is able to apply the new strategy in the classroom displaying an understanding through analysis of individual students' needs, particular content material, objectives to be achieved and the aspects of management required to perform the model appropriately and effectively (Joyce & Showers, 1995, p. 133). The teacher also experiences an increased comfort level with the new strategy, whereby it feels as comfortable as their 'old' methods of teaching (Joyce & Showers, 1982, pp. 5-6).

The vast majority of the research regarding the implementation of Models of Teaching has been conducted with experienced teachers in inservice situations, however, novice teachers face even greater challenges in implementing new strategies. Although they are not having to 'unlearn' previous possibly obstructive teaching habits they have a whole plethora of concerns with which to contend. Some examples of concerns they may face include developing effective classroom management skills, becoming familiar with curriculum, acclimatising to a new workplace environment and possibly living alone in isolated areas divorced from support systems. Since teaching style may be developed early in a teacher's career (Moffett, St. John & Isken, 1987) new graduates must attempt and persevere in implementing the models while adjusting to their new work environment. If they wait until they have adjusted or acclimatised, the research indicates that they will not implement or transfer these complex strategies.

Reflection

It was felt that an integral aspect of skill development and refinement is cultivating the ability to be able to reflect and re-examine performance and processes. Reflection is not an automatic characteristic exhibited in novice teachers and as such is systematically promoted and taught in the professional preparation course. This systematic approach is in line with the views of Ziechner (1990, 1993) who examined the fashionableness of the term 'reflection' and discussed the need to use the term carefully. He states that it has become popular for education preparation programs to promote reflective techniques in their graduates, however, he cautions that there is a need for establishing priorities for this reflection which should emerge from 'reasoned educational and social philosophy' (Zeichner, 1990, p. 56). In other words, graduates should have definitive guidelines relating to what they should be reflecting on and why. He stresses the need for the novice teacher to have developed an explicit philosophy purporting to their own teaching practices.

Zeichner and Liston (1990 in Zeichner, 1990), building on the work of Klierbard (1986 in Zeichner, 1990), identified four traditions or paradigms of reform in the 20th Century in United States teacher education. Further examination of this work by Zeichner and Tabachnick (1991) resulted in an extension of the paradigms by developing four varieties of reflective practice. These four varieties of reflective practice are 1) an academic tradition - emphasises content knowledge revolving around the representation and translation of subject matter knowledge in order to promote the student's understanding; 2) a social efficiency version - emphasises appropriate application of particular teaching strategies suggested through a knowledge base external to one being studied eg., understanding the research behind the theory; 3) a developmentalist version - emphasises and prioritises teaching practices sensitive to student interests, thinking and patterns of developmental growth; and 4) a social reconstructionist version - stresses reflection about the institution, social, and political context of schooling and the assessment of classroom actions for their ability to contribute to greater equality, social justice, and humane conditions in schooling and society (Zeichner, 1990).

When investigating these versions of reflective practice, Zeichner states that adopting just one alone is insufficient for 'providing a moral basis for teaching and teacher education' but rather 'good teaching' requires the attention to aspects of all four traditions (Zeichner, 1990, pp. 56-57). This view coincides with the theory and research underpinning the Models of Teaching and the philosophy promoted within the professional preparation program under investigation in this study. If key aspects of all four traditions were not accommodated when implementing any of the models then the teacher's attempt would be less than successful in achieving the educational goals to be accomplished. In addition to this, all four versions were explicitly identified and discussed when outlining the theory and modelling strategies during demonstrations. Students were required to demonstrate their ability to reflect on their performances, incorporating the four versions of reflective practice.

Models of teaching

Teaching is an interactive task between the teacher and the student. The form of interaction can vary considerably. One form of interaction is using Models of Teaching. There are many models of teaching which have arisen over the years. Some have arisen from teachers investigating the processes of interaction within their own classroom, some from educational psychologists, some resulting from industrial trainers and some from teacher effectiveness studies. In the 1960s Bruce Joyce and Marsha Weil began a process of investigation into the types of strategies and approaches that were available. As they pursued this area of study they developed a system of classification for the various teaching strategies they encountered. This system was determinant on the theoretical underpinnings of each approach, the objectives of the approach, the types of interaction and the types of behaviours required of the teacher and the student for the approach to be successfully executed.

Joyce, Weil and Showers (1992) labelled these approaches 'models'. As outlined in Arends (1994, p. 14) 'a model as defined by Joyce and Weil ... is more than a specific method or strategy. It is an overall plan, or pattern, for helping students to learn specific kinds of knowledge, attitudes, or skills'. They have a theoretical background or philosophy and a series of steps in order to assist students to achieve a set outcome or goal (Arends, 1994, p. 14). Research with the models has shown they work, in that they provide motivation to both teacher and student, initiate interest, hold student attention, encourage higher level thought processes and create a positive atmosphere aiding social growth (Joyce, Weil & Showers, 1992; Joyce & Weil, 1996; Servatius & Young, 1985; Kent, 1985; Rogers, 1987; Garmston, 1987; Moffett, St. John & Isken, 1987; Bennett, 1987, 1997; Showers, Joyce & Bennett, 1987; Joyce, Murphy, Showers, & Murphy, 1989; Raywid, 1993; Garmston, Linder & Whitaker, 1993; Baker, Scott & Showers, 1997).

Joyce, Weil and Showers' (1992) text Models of Teaching contains approximately twenty different models designed for different outcomes. This does not mean that they would expect teachers to learn all twenty strategies. Neither would they expect a teacher to adopt just one strategy. Rather they endorse the idea that teachers need to develop a repertoire of four to six complex teaching models in order to be equipped to assist a diverse student population. By teaching a teacher how to learn and generating a 'learning how to learn' effect will facilitate the teachers' continued professional growth enabling him/her to continue to attain new complex teaching strategies and update his/her skills (Joyce & Weil, 1986, p.478; Arends, 1994).

The format of the Strategies of Teaching unit

As the Strategies of Teaching unit is focussed on the development of specific Models of Teaching and the practical application of those strategies, a flexible pattern of instruction, based on lecture/tutorials and workshop sessions, has been adopted. The format of the unit is a ninety minute lecture and demonstration, incorporating the educational theory/conceptual framework and rationale underpinning the use of various strategies, accompanied by a demonstration of the model by the lecturer or others on video or CD-ROM (Baker & Shortland-Jones, 1996). Whenever appropriate, the instructor will use models to teach models. The skill development delivery process of the course is based upon the Training Model (Joyce & Weil, 1986, pp. 317-336) or Direct Instruction Model as outlined in the set text (Joyce, Weil & Showers, 1992, pp. 329-352) and grounded in Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory.

In the tutorial session, students are required to prepare and present a ten minute model lesson each week and observe and provide constructive feedback to their peers in small groups. The two-hour follow-up workshop/tutorial session is designed to provide a supportive, psychologically safe and controlled environment where students can present their prepared microlessons. This workshop environment was based upon the ideals of humanistic teaching such as Roger's (1969 in Gage & Berliner, 1992) principle that learning was easiest and most meaningful when it occurred within a non-threatening situation and Brown's (1971 in Gage & Berliner, 1992) theory of confluent education, where there is a merging of affective and cognitive elements. Additionally, Comb's (1965 in Biehler & Snowman, 1993, p. 476) views that the role of a teacher should be that of 'facilitator, encourager, helper, assister, colleague, and friend of his students' were indicative of the workshop ethos not only in the lecturer-student relationship but also encouraged and promoted in peer-peer interaction and relationships within that environment. Students are required to video tape their presentations each week to assist them in objective reflection. At the conclusion of the ten-week period the students are encouraged to review their tapes in order to get an overview of their development. This procedure is designed to increase students' self efficacy and self-belief, as the development of skills is considerable over this period and they are able to see just how much they have improved. The early development of self efficacy may actually assist transfer of the models by encouraging the novice teacher to persist in implementing the strategies through the belief that this form of teaching can make a difference to his/her students (Martin, 1989; Guskey, 1987).

Students are also required to compile a portfolio of teaching strategies. This portfolio incorporates evaluation of lessons, personal lesson plans for each of the model lessons conducted throughout the semester, peer and self evaluation sheets for each of the lessons, and a collection of lesson plans developed by their peers. This resource was designed to assist in their first year of teaching, by providing a ready made set of model lessons, thereby supporting the transfer process. The evaluations required for the portfolio are also designed to continue the students' development of sound reflective characteristics that were initiated in the first skills development unit in semester one. These reflective characteristics are based upon all four of Zeichner's versions of reflective practice.

The models approach used in the Strategies of Teaching course provides a basis for the development of a repertoire of different strategies that teachers and curriculum developers can use to help different learners reach different goals. 'This perspective assumes there is no "one right way" in teaching. "Good teaching" needs to be in terms of "good for whom" and "good for what"?' (Baker & Scott, 1995, p. 6). The unit objectives are designed so that student teachers should be able to:

Methodology

With limited resources available for this postgraduate study, the complication of prospective respondents being widely distributed across various farflung teaching posts, together with the difficulties encountered in locating an adequate number of graduates employed in teaching, it was deemed to be appropriate to conduct the survey by means of telephone interview rather than mail questionnaire or participant observation. It was considered a telephone interview would allow more in depth pursuit of key open ended items, such as examples of recent uses of specific teaching models. The interview schedule was developed from material suggested by previous research and research instruments utilised in this field (Baker & Scott, 1995; Baker, Scott & Showers, 1997; Baker & Showers, 1984; 1985). A pilot study was performed to refine the interview instrument.

With the first group of teachers interviewed, the researcher maintained manual note taking procedures. This proved to be a laborious task and necessitated frequent pauses which initially may have appeared to be a major disadvantage by slowing the flow of dialogue, but conversely, this pause served to remind respondents of other details that they had forgotten in their haste to recall the lessons. It also facilitated probing for clarification by the interviewer. A problem with note taking was that it extended the length of time taken for the interview, which concerned the busy first year out teachers. However, once they started relating their lesson activities it was easy to keep them talking and they became animated and eager to share their experiences. It is acknowledged that there had to be some loss of data by reason of manual note taking rather than tape recording the interviews. This issue was considered when deciding to expand the data collection to include in depth interviewing of all the models the respondents reported using frequently. As a result, in the second year, the data were collected by both manual note taking and tape recording through a loud speaker telephone. All the respondents readily agreed to the taping of the interview. It was explained to them that this procedure would serve to speed up the interview and that once the data were transcribed the tape would be immediately recorded over on the occasion of the next interview. This also enabled a more accurate collection of data and served to alleviate some of the concerns the researcher had regarding the amount of necessary editing which occurred throughout the interview.

With the interview method, much of the reliability also lies with the interviewer's technique. With this in mind, a thorough review of the literature on potential problems and avenues of bias in interviews was conducted (Beed & Stimson, 1985; Best, 1977; Borg, & Gall, 1989; Cohen, & Manion, 1994; Candy, 1989; Gano-Phillips, & Fincham, 1992; Howard, 1994; Jaeger, 1988; Korbell & Bell, 1985; Oppenheim, 1992). Interviewer training was also undertaken in the trial prior to the study. Additionally, to limit bias, all interviews were conducted by the same interviewer. Care was also taken in the formulation of the wording of the questions in the interview schedule to prevent leading the respondent to supply an answer they felt was desired by the interviewer (Borg, 1987; Borg, & Gall, 1989).

The format of the instrument was such that there were numerous internal reliability checks built into the questions; for example, the respondents were asked to rate the comfort levels of both themselves and their students' with the model and these ratings were checked with the comments recorded in the open ended sections of the instrument. The results from the pilot were also compared with those of the main study to compare the reliability of the answers.

Validity was perceived to be important in this project for if the data received did not answer the research questions it was immaterial if it had been reliably collected. Validity is 'concerned with whether an instrument is measuring what it is supposed to measure' (Wolf, 1993). As the respondents were reporting on their own classroom practices the aspect of validity was of major concern. The teachers involved in the study were asked to give an indication of their frequency of use of the models. They were then asked to describe a lesson where they had made use of the model and this was used as a validity check against the frequency rating they reported. In the lesson description the teachers were probed regarding subject matter suitability, year or grade level, ability level of the students, their (the teacher's) motivation in choosing that particular model and to outline exactly how the lesson had proceeded. This detailed portrayal was then cross checked with the phases in the model as the interview progressed. The phases of each model were clearly outlined on the interview schedule to act as a prompt to the interviewer. If the respondent appeared to have difficulty remembering, the interviewer would reassure them and advise them to take their time, to belay anxiety. If, at the conclusion of the lesson recital, steps in the model had been omitted the researcher would probe for further information. If these probes were unsuccessful in drawing out more information then the interviewer would proceed to the next section where the teacher was quizzed regarding comfort level with the use of the model.

If the respondents had stated that they frequently used a particular model but were unable to remember a specific lesson where they had implemented it, encouragement was given to generalise in the hope that as they continued they would remember a specific lesson. If not, this was noted as possibly questionable data, especially if they were unable to provide specifics to the other questions. Usually, if the respondents were not sure of the model they would state that they were having difficulties remembering it. Most stated forthrightly that they either did or did not use that particular model. Some stated they used a model but could not remember the name and would continue on describing the steps of a particular model perfectly which was noted on the interview schedule. The instrument was designed to make guessing very difficult. In the case where the respondent stated they used a model frequently he/she was asked to provide a detailed account of a specific lesson using that particular strategy, supplying most or all of the steps from memory of what they had done on that occasion. Few of the respondents, who stated they utilised the models, were unable to comply with the requirements set out in the interview schedule to verify their statements.

Determining if transfer had occurred for the new graduates, and to what extent it had occurred were key issues in this study. In order to investigate their transfer it was necessary to incorporate the following fundamental criteria for transfer into the interview schedule. Establishing that the following behaviours were occurring or starting to occur and what the teachers' perceptions were to the models would act as an indicator of transfer. The criteria used to determine transfer were:

These categories were incorporated into the interview schedule and, as a composite, provided a more complete picture as to whether the beginning teacher had attempted the models and, if so, at what stage of transfer could they be rated. The novice was assessed as having transferred the strategy from the theoretical into the actual classroom situation successfully, if the teacher was using the model frequently; was comfortable or very comfortable; was able to provide a theoretically sound reason for its use; noted that the students were comfortable or very comfortable; the described lesson was complete and appropriate to the model chosen; any modifications to the model were appropriate; if the lesson was one which had been formulated subsequent to the workshop setting; and the teacher was able to provide further appropriate examples of lessons using the model. The amount or degree of transfer (ie., horizontal or vertical transfer) was determined by the number and the extent of the above criteria achieved by the teacher. Self efficacy was gauged from the graduate teachers' open ended comments in both the structured and unstructured portions of the interview. The criteria correlated to investigate self efficacy with transfer was the respondents' perceptions regarding their own performance, the work situation, comfort levels with the models, the effect that utilising the models had on their students, and their attitude towards their students, their perception of their students and their ability to have an effect on them.

Results

Transfer per respondent

Figure 1 and Figure 2 display a representation of the number of models transferred per respondent in 199 5 and 1996.

Figure 1: Number of model/s tranferred per respondent in 1995 sample.

Both samples (1995 and 1996) were found to be comparable in the category of 'number of respondents who transferred three or more models'. Ten respondents (approximately 30%) from both years were in this category. All of these teachers displayed high levels of self efficacy and a positive attitude in general. There were slightly less in the first sample, who transferred two models, with six teachers (19%) compared with eight (24%) in the 1996 sample. The number of respondents who transferred one model was comparable across both cohorts with seven respondents (22%) in the 1995 group and four (21%) in the 1996 sample. The complement of the sample represented those who had made no attempt to implement the Models of Teaching, those who had been unsuccessful in the implementation process and/or those who were implementing but not frequently enough to satisfy the criteria for transfer.

Figure 2: Number of model/s tranferred per respondent in 1996 sample.

Reasons for non-use were reported as concerns with lack of time, lack of understanding of the models, lack of motivation to attempt them, and concerns with management issues. This group of teachers displayed low levels of self efficacy. Those teachers who had attempted to implement the models but were not utilising them frequently enough to satisfy the criteria for transfer usually displayed a positive attitude to the models but were still becoming established in their teaching. Many of these teachers expressed they would continue with their implementation process while developing their classroom management and time management skills. Many stated they liked using the models and would continue because they had experienced the advantages to their students but preparation time was a problem.

Transfer and gender

Table 1 and 2 display the number distribution of female and male teachers, in both the 1995 and 1996 samples respectively, who successfully transferred one, two, three, four or five complex models (verified data).

No. of respondentsNo. of models transferred Gender
Females (n=19)Males (n=13)

103 73
62 51
71 33

2349 157

Table 1: Comparison of transfer with gender in the 1995 sample.

In the 1995 sample, there were twenty three graduates who successfully transferred, collectively, forty nine strategies (verified data). Of the twenty three graduates fifteen were female and seven were male.

No. of respondentsNo. of models transferred Gender
Females (n=24)Males (n=10)

35 21
24 20
53 41
82 62
41 31

2258 175

Table 2: Comparison of transfer with gender in the 1996 sample.

In the 1996 sample, there were twenty two graduates who successfully transferred fifty eight strategies in total. Of the twenty two graduates seventeen were female and five were male.

Table 3 and 4 display the demographic distribution of females and males in both the 1995 and 1996 samples. It also outlines the percentage of females who successfully transferred against females who were unsuccessful and, likewise, males who were successful in implementing the complex macroskills with their unsuccessful counterparts.


1995 Respondents
GenderTotal number of respondents Respondents transferring modelsPercentage
transferring

Female19 1579%
Male13 754%

Table 3: 1995 gender demographics.

In 1995 seventy nine percent of female teachers were successful in transferring complex models with fifty four percent of male teachers being successful.


1995 Respondents
GenderTotal number of respondents Respondents transferring modelsPercentage
transferring

Female24 1771%
Male10 550%

Table 4: 1996 Gender demographics.

In 1996 seventy one percent of females successfully transferred models into their regular classroom practices in comparison to fifty percent of their male counterparts. The two sample groups (1995 and 1996) demonstrated similar trends of females being more successful in implementing complex teaching strategies than their male counterparts.

Discussion

This research explored the success or otherwise of a coalescent curriculum structure for skill development in the teacher education professional preparation course. This involved examination of Bandura's (1986) Social Cognitive Theory of Observational Learning, a selection of Joyce, Weil and Showers' Models of Teaching (1992), Humanistic approaches (Comb, 1965 in Biehler & Snowman, 1993; Brown, 1971 and Roger, 1969, in Gage & Berliner, 1992) and reflective techniques based upon Zeichner's four versions of reflective practice (1990, 1993). The effectiveness of the teaching and learning processes in the teacher education professional preparation course were determined by ascertaining the amount of transfer by first year teachers of the complex teaching strategies into the regular repertoire. Additionally, the implementation of appropriate reflective practices within the classroom situation was indirectly examined throughout the interview process.

Coalescent curriculum structure in teacher preparation

Traditionally, graduates of this course have fared well in gaining teaching positions. These two year groups followed this trend with between 80-90% of graduates obtaining teaching positions within 8-9 months into the school year. Thirty two graduates (in 1995 and 1996) successfully obtained teaching positions. An additional two graduates in the second year (1996) were teaching fulltime in a relief or substitute capacity.

Interestingly the rate of transfer on an individual basis was relatively even across both year groups even though the demographics of the two samples were different. It was pleasing to find that twenty three teachers (72% of the total sample) in the 1995 group and twenty two (65% of the total sample) in the 1996 sample, transferred at least one complex teaching model into regular classroom use, figures which were significantly higher than expected from similar teaching/learning courses (Joyce & Weil, 1986; Showers & Joyce, 1996). Although Showers and Joyce recommend teachers build a repertoire of five to six different strategies, in order to better accommodate the various learning styles and needs of students, many of these teachers stated that having experienced success with one model they intended to continue to implement other models. This trend of higher than standard transfer rates, was maintained in a sub-group of ten graduates in both years (approximately a third of the total number of respondents in both samples) who successfully implemented at least three complex models, with some transferring as many as five strategies into their regular repertoire of teaching practices.

It was also interesting, although not entirely unexpected, that self efficacy also appeared to be linked with successful transfer. Teachers who implemented one model appeared to be less sure of themselves and their perception of their own teaching and their students were less positive than those who had successfully mastered more than two models. Those who had implemented three or more models demonstrated sound reflection techniques, encompassing Zeichner's four versions of reflection, and perceived the Models of Teaching to constitute effective teaching endorsing the many previous studies with the Models of Teaching (Joyce, Weil & Showers, 1992; Joyce & Weil, 1996; Servatius & Young, 1985; Kent, 1985; Rogers, 1987; Garmston, 1987; Moffett, St. John & Isken, 1987; Bennett, 1987, 1997; Joyce, Murphy, Showers, & Murphy, 1989; Raywid, 1993; Garmston, Linder & Whitaker, 1993). They also appeared to experience less stress related to their own teaching than their less successful peers. Curiously many of these teachers were able to identify that they felt less stressed with regard to their own teaching and felt they were more effective in the classroom but were stressed with aspects of teaching outside of their control, such as, settling into the school culture and/or new town and satisfying the criteria for performance appraisal that is compulsory for new teachers.

It was interesting that teachers who had implemented more than two models experienced feeling awkward initially and reported that their students were hesitant and unsure, however, after using the model frequently both the teacher and the students became used to the different format and the students participated more and enjoyed it more than traditional exposition formats. This finding endorses Joyce and Showers (1995) findings of transfer moving from horizontal to vertical and, eventually, to executive control with a resultant change in comfort levels and expertise. A general statement, from teachers who had transferred a complex model, was that they would continue to implement more models now that they had experienced success and their students were benefiting from the models they had attempted previously. This endorsed Bandura's views that success with the models provides motivation and reinforces the behaviour, in this case the further implementation of models. These findings endorsed Joyce and Showers research that models have an effect on student participation and achievement.

Transfer and gender

In a prior study (Baker & Scott, 1995; Baker, Scott & Showers, 1997) a large proportion of innovative lessons were formulated and conducted by female teachers. Initial analysis of the 1995 sample in this current study suggested there may have been a trend emerging relating transfer findings to gender. Females appeared to consistently gain higher transfer rates than their male counterparts. This trend was confirmed in the second year of the study (1996). Seventy nine percent of the female graduates in the 1994 group and seventy one percent in the 1995 cohort were found to be successful in transferring Models of Teaching into their regular repertoire of teaching strategies. This was contrasted with fifty four percent of males in the first sample and fifty percent in the 1996 group.

It was thought initially that subject contamination may have been a confounding factor, suggesting that subject areas in which Models of Teaching were not routinely utilised may have been dominated by males. Upon investigation this was not found to be the case. There were only three 'non-transfer' males in these curriculum areas in the first sample. In the 1996 sample, the percentage of males successfully implementing dropped to fifty percent from fifty four percent the previous year, yet the percentage of males in 'suspect' subject areas, that is, subject areas in which teachers did not routinely implement models, dropped. If curriculum area was a significant factor affecting transfer rates, the number of males implementing strategies should have risen in the second year rather than dropped. Likewise, the female teachers were evenly distributed across curriculum areas with many in 'suspect' content areas (ie., subject areas in which teachers did not routinely implement Models of Teaching, for example, Art and Computing) and this did not appear to affect their implementation rates. Although there were more females overall transferring the strategies in this current study the proportion of teachers at a high level transfer stage (implementing three or more complex strategies and often demonstrating executive control over the strategy) appeared to be comparable in both males and females in both year groups (ie., around 20% of males and just over 33% of females transferred three or more models).

These findings were unexpected, and unfortunately, there was insufficient information with which to draw definite conclusions regarding why females were more successful in acquiring a repertoire of teaching strategies. This result appears to raise more questions than it answers, such as, are females more receptive to new strategies? Do females adjust to new environments at a faster rate than their male counterparts enabling them to take on new learning earlier? Do males hold stronger views as to what constitutes effective teaching rendering them less willing to take on new learning that does not fit in with their schema? Are there more pressures on males within particular environments than on their female counterparts? These questions illustrate how multidimensional this issue is and how many extraneous factors may influence transfer. It may also include student teachers personality type and growth level. It can be seen that it would be difficult to make any categorical statements regarding this issue, however, it would be an interesting area to pursue in a future study.

It would appear from the transfer rates obtained in this study, in addition to findings obtained in a previous study with selected models (Baker & Scott, 1995; Baker, Scott & Showers, 1997), that the Strat egies of Teaching unit may be more effective than other courses of a similar nature which profess similar objectives. It is proposed that the format of the course and instructional design of the workshops may have been responsible for the high rate of transfer being reported. In addition to the observation of models being performed by lecturers, tutors, peers and themselves (on video), the students performed themselves and received support from all involved in the unit. This practice served to promote self efficacy as well as skill with the strategy. The humanistic workshop environment appeared to have provided students with incentive and motivation to attempt, and continue practising, their skills with the strategies as outlined by Bandura (Woolfolk, 1993) as a key aspect in the adoption of new learning. Overtly teaching reflective techniques (eg., reflection of self and peers in microteaching workshops, on the models and the formulation of environments required for the models to be effective, in assignment preparation and on teaching practice within the school sphere) appeared to have the effect of increasing self efficacy, confidence and motivation endorsing Martin's (1989) findings that the more teachers observed and participated in satisfactory microteaching the more their self image improved in terms of being an effective teacher.

All educators involved in teaching in any course would like to believe that their teaching was having a significant effect on their students and the knowledge and skills covered would be utilised in an employment situation, however, according to the research on effective training this may not be assumed. It was therefore reassuring to see that the majority of these graduates demonstrated a clear theoretical understanding of the models and had reportedly established a constructive classroom environment built upon sound humanistic ideals. They displayed clear, focussed reflective techniques in being able to identify areas within their own teaching and within the school or classroom environment which required modification in order to bring about improvement and the willingness to continue to learn and develop as professionals. It is hoped that the information and constructive suggestions from the respondents in this study, that have been channelled back into the skills development units, will result in an even more effective course structure and, ultimately, higher transfer rates.

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Please cite as: Scott, S. and Baker, R. G. (1998). Determining the effectiveness of a teacher professional preparation course by examining the transfer of complex models of teaching by newly graduated teachers. Proceedings Western Australian Institute for Educational Research Forum 1998. http://www.waier.org.au/forums/1998/scott.html


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