Judging teaching quality: Implications for teacher professional learning

Year: 2012

Author: Gore, Jennifer, Miller, Wendy, Bowe, Julie, Clement, Jennifer

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Growing global interest in how to define and quantify quality in teaching and teachers has led to a proliferation of professional standards for teachers and of frameworks for observing, judging and even 'measuring' teaching quality. In this paper, we review and analyse the dominant frameworks that are available for these purposes, identifying the range of ways in which such frameworks function, from more 'technical' approaches that centre on the activity of teaching (e.g., Danielson, 2007) to broad statements of 'professional standards' (such as those developed by AITSL, 2011 in Australia or NCATE in the United States).  We trace the development of these approaches as they have intersected with broader shifts in the schooling sector around scientific, professionalisation and accountability agendas (Tuinamuana, 2011).

Some pedagogical models have been developed by university-based researchers (e.g. CREDE's 5 Standards, 3-DP, PEEL, 8ways, LbD, BSCS 5E, ESTEEM), while others have emerged from collaborations between state government education departments and researchers (e.g. Quality Teaching, SA TfEL, 5D Framework). They have in common aims to provide teachers with professional development that enhances the quality of teaching and leads to sustainable improvement in student learning outcomes, but differ in the ways in which they engage teachers. Some approaches invite schools and teachers to develop their own pedagogy within guidelines provided by the model (e.g. 3-DP, PEEL, 8ways and LbD); others engage teachers in using the model as the basis for professional development (e.g. QT, 5D, SA TfEL, DoL); while others, towards the performativity end of the scale, expect teachers to implement the model with fidelity (e.g. BSCS 5E).

Next, we explore the 'discursive' (what is discussed and what is not discussed), 'subjectification' (how teachers are thought about and how they think about themselves), and 'lived' (the impact on lives) effects (Bacchi, 2010) of these approaches to judging teacher and teaching quality, noting in particular the challenges posed for those who seek to improve their own or others' teaching. In so doing, we identify aspects of the Quality Teaching approach that contribute to its effectiveness in supporting teacher learning.