University of Tasmania
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A study of the relationships between styles of teaching and pupil performance in Tasmanian primary schools

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posted on 2023-05-27, 17:04 authored by Ramsay, William
This study focuses on tw9 basic questions: To what extent can styles of teaching be compared? How do teaching styles relate to the performance of pupils in the primary classroom? The first question originated in a continuing debate about the respective merits of ·'traditional 1 and 'open' education. The debate was stimulated by publication of the Bennett (1976} study, but was made persistently more · difficult by the problem of defining 'openness'. That difficulty was approached in this study by development of a conceptual basis upon which operational definitions, incorporating elements of traditional and open teaching style, were determined. These elements, in addition to those refined from the research instrument of Bennett, formed the basis of a Teacher Questionnaire. For the purpose of analysis the Questionnaire items were classified in a set of ten features of teaching style, representing teaching behaviour and teacher at t i tu de categories (after the Giaconia and Hedges (1982) model of 'open education' features). From the responses of a State-wide sample of teachers, composite scores for the ten features were . calculated. High canonical correlations between the factor scores of the two major categories led to a search for an underlying dimension of teaching style. This was achieved by use of the maximum likelihood method of common factor analysis. Reasonable interpretation of the data justified the grouping of teachers according to their low (traditional), neutral, and high (open) factor scores along a single teaching style continuum. To find out how the differing teaching styles related to pupil performance, a sample of teachers was,selected, together with their pupi 1 s from whom data on five performance tests had been gathered (tests in general ability, mathematics and language). Analysis was based on a division of pupils in relation to the teaching style groupings of their teachers. Multivariate analysis of covariance revealed significant differences between the pupil groups. Canonical variate analysis enabled the patterns of these differences to be observed. The analysis showed statistically significant differences between the pupil groups (i.e. traditional, neutral, open) in respect of the dependent (performance) variables' after adjustment for differences among pupils in general ability. Each pair of groups was distinct. The strongest separation between the traditional and open groups is provided by performance in mathematics. No clear pattern ' in this respect emerges for the language performance variables, which work rather to separate the neutral groups from the traditional and open. Nevertheless the groups clearly differ in respect to these variables also. The evidence from the study answered the two research questions. Teachers can be classified as employing traditional and open (or neutral) styles of teaching. These differing styles are directly related to variation in pupil performance. Implications of the results are then discussed. Given that the performance areas included in the study are regarded as basic to the progress of primary school children, the results emphasise the particular consequence of varying forms of methodology employed in teaching these areas. The results are further discussed in comparison with the Bennett ( 1976) study. Then some suggestions are made for further research, specifically in regard to the teaching style methodologies applied to the teaching of basic areas, and use of the teaching style features classification as an aid to the analysis of teaching.


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Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1984. Bibliography: leaves 167-223

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