Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Do good grades make a good teacher? An investigation of the relationship between teachers' academic performance and perceived teacher effectiveness in Cyprus
by Orphanos, Stelios Andreas, Ph.D., Stanford University, 2008, 183; 3332998
Abstract (Summary)

A growing body of evidence suggests that teachers are the most important factor influencing student outcomes (Goldhaber, 2007; Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain, 2005; Rockoff, 2004; Sanders & Rivers, 1996; Wright, Horn, & Sanders, 1997). Therefore, policymakers are interested in understanding teacher quality and identifying the teacher characteristics most predictive of student achievement. Past research that relied on narrowly defined measures of teacher quality such as amount of coursework or degree level, failed to find a strong positive relationship between observable teacher characteristics and teacher effectiveness. However, these measures have been criticized as poor indicators of the teachers' knowledge and skills that matter for student learning (Wilson, Floden, & Ferrini-Mundy, 2001).

This study explores the relationship between teachers' academic performance and perceived teacher effectiveness. I use teachers' grade point averages (GPA) in areas of teachers' preparation curriculum as indicators of teacher quality and teacher ratings collected from the principal, parents, peers and teachers as indicators of teacher effectiveness. The main hypothesis of the study is that teachers' academic performance is positively associated with perceived teacher effectiveness both directly and indirectly through teaching practices.

This study took place in Cyprus and the population consists of teachers who graduated from the teacher preparation program at the University of Cyprus. Teachers' transcripts were matched to survey data collected from teachers, principals and parents. Using structural equation modeling (SEM) techniques I find a substantial positive association between teachers' academic performance and their perceived effectiveness. Controlling for other measures of teacher quality (teaching experience and advanced degrees) and important contextual factors, teachers' academic performance is a positive predictor of teacher ratings' magnitude and of teachers' relative ranking within schools based on their average effectiveness as perceived by the principal, peers and parents. In addition, teachers with better grades put more effort into their work, spend more time on daily planning and engage less in activities associated with traditional teaching.

These findings suggest that teachers' demonstrated knowledge and skills in education coursework and practice teaching matter for teacher effectiveness. They also suggest that the traditional measures of education coursework used in past research such as amount and type of courses may have been inadequate in measuring teachers' level of professional knowledge. The findings also imply that teacher preparation programs should provide teachers with coursework in subject matter knowledge and pedagogic science and opportunities to practice what they learn in coursework. Teachers' academic performance may also be used in predicting future teacher effectiveness and as a signaling device for teacher quality especially for new teachers and in cases where other information regarding teacher effectiveness is not available.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor:
Commitee:
School: Stanford University
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 69/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Teacher education
Keywords: Academic performance, Cyprus, Effective teaching, Teacher coursework, Teacher education, Teacher effectiveness, Teachers' academic performance, Teachers' ratings of effectiveness
Publication Number: 3332998
ISBN: 9780549851349
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