Beyond teacher effectiveness; in search of the excellent teacher?

Year: 2018

Author: Ferguson-Brown, Susan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

It is widely agreed that excellent student learning is strongly linked to the quality of the teacher. Quality teachers are variously referred to as successful (Strong, Gargani, & Hacifazlioğlu, 2011); expert (Hattie, 2003), effective (Stronge, 2007) and excellent (Collinson, 1999). While the phenomenon of teacher effectiveness has been widely researched, the notion of teacher excellence is both underexamined and under theorized. In the twenty first century the focus of the teaching profession, academia and government has narrowed to exploring issues of teacher effectiveness and efficacy. Government and academia’s efforts to cultivate high quality teaching has been concentrated through the narrow lens of pedagogy, curricula and content - a teacher’s professional skill. For excellent teaching to arise these skills are clearly a necessary condition. But are they also sufficient? Is there more to excellent teaching than purely the exercise of professional skill? Collinson (1999) found that excellent teachers demonstrate professional, interpersonal and intrapersonal knowledge. This definition is used as a framework to explore a range of subjective viewpoints about teacher excellence that exists amongst teachers, students and parents. Q Method is employed to identify these viewpoints and establish the extent to which any viewpoint suggests attributes and behaviours, beyond the professional, that inform the conceptualization of teacher excellence. In this study it is likely that the subjective viewpoints of parents and students will identify and emphasise interpersonal and intrapersonal attributes and behaviours in their conceptualisation of teacher excellence. Teachers on the other hand, are more likely to identify professional skills and behaviours as central to their conceptualisation. If excellent teachers are more than effective pedagogues and curriculum developers then improving teacher quality requires more than developing a teacher’s professional skill.