Cover Image
close this bookInitial Primary Teacher Education in Lesotho (CIE, 2002, 142 p.)
close this folderChapter 5: The Impact of Training: College and School Experiences
View the document5.1 Introduction
View the document5.2 Profile of the samples of newly qualified teachers and exiting student teachers
View the document5.3 Views about aspects of the teacher education programme
View the document5.4 Transition into teaching
View the document5.5 Newly qualified teachers in practice
View the document5.6 Attitudes and perceptions
View the document5.7 Emergence of a new role identity
View the document5.8 How they are perceived by stakeholders
View the document5.9 Concluding discussion

5.6 Attitudes and perceptions

The perceptions and views of NQTs and both the entering and exiting student teachers on issues related to teachers and teaching were gathered through a Likert-type instrument administered as part of the questionnaires. The instrument had four response options which ranged from 'strong agreement' which was coded 1, 'agreement' coded 2, through 'disagreement' coded 3, to 'strong disagreement' which was coded 4. For each statement, the expected mean response was 2.5. A response mean below 2.5 was considered to indicate some level of agreement with the statement, and vice versa for the mean above this figure. The instrument was administered to a total of 70 NQTs, 90 entering students and 50 exiting student teachers.

Table 5.1 gives the statements and the results for the three groups.

Table 5.1: Perceptions and Views of Entering and Exiting Students and NQTs on Teachers, Teaching and Learning


Entering Student Teachers

Exiting Student Teachers

NQTs


N

Mean

SD

N

Mean

SD

N

Mean

SD

1. The most important thing a teacher can do is teach pupils facts that they need to know.

89

1.94

0.98

59

1.51

0.73

68

1.71

0.79

2. Teachers cannot do much to improve the results of slow learners.

87

3.18

0.97

59

3.22

0.95

68

3.46

0.74

3. Children need to be divided into ability groups to be taught well.

88

2.10

1.04

27

2.44

1.01

69

2.17

0.95

4. I think it will be easy to use new teaching method in my school




27

1.78

0.75

68

2.00

0.67

5. I find it difficult to make teaching and learning aids.




27

3.22

0.85

70

3.04

0.71

6. After teaching lessons in school, I write down how to improve next time.




27

1.67

0.62

70

1.77

0.57

7. There is no time in the school for teachers to plan lessons well.




27

2.85

1.06

70

2.86

1.00

8. School pupils learn more from listening to the teacher than from asking questions

88

2.88

0.98

58

2.69

0.88

70

2.93

0.79

9. School children learn best when in small groups.




59

1.39

0.53

68

1.21

0.41

10. Teachers find it difficult to maintain discipline in schools without corporal punishment.

85

3.04

0.88

59

2.61

1.11

70

2.67

0.93

11. Corporal punishment is not useful for helping children to learn




26

1.88

1.07

70

2.01

0.96

12. People who are good at teaching do not need much training




27

2.96

1.06

70

3.21

0.78

13. Teachers are born not made.

86

2.37

0.96

56

2.09

0.98

70

2.14

1.04

14. I feel (felt) well prepared to start my teaching career




27

1.59

0.63

70

1.63

0.68

15. I need more training to be an effective teacher.




27

1.77

0.85

70

1.54

0.74

16. All you need to do well in college tests is good memory




59

2.03

0.78




17. Doing well in college examinations is easier than doing well at secondary school.




58

2.65

1.05




18. Examinations are a fair test of what I have learnt at college.




27

2.00

0.68




19. I prefer being assessed through assignment than through end-of-term examinations.




26

2.23

1.07




20. Teaching is a very difficult job to do well

89

2.52

1.01

56

2.73

0.96

70

2.86

0.69

21. Teaching is easier than many other jobs I could do..




27

2.44

1.09

70

2.69

0.93

22. I think being a teacher is the best job I can get.




56

2.20

1.07

70

1.96

0.94

23. Primary school teachers are respected in the community




37

2.00

0.91

70

2.13

0.74

24. My friends think I am fortunate to be (trained to be) a school teacher

84

2.19

1.06

27

1.85

0.82

69

2.39

0.89

25. I would rather teach in a secondary than in a primary school.

89

2.90

0.95

56

3.13

0.96

70

2.96

0.69

26. I would rather have gone to university than teacher training college

90

2.93

0.98

56

2.73

1.00

70

2.54

1.00

27. I know many teachers who would prefer to do other jobs.




56

1.98

0.86

70

2.09

0.83

28. Women make the best primary school principals




27

2.44

1.12

70

2.21

0.87

29. Men make the best primary school class teachers.




56

2.52

0.87

70

2.71

0.78

A further analysis was carried out on the ten items common to all three groups. This helps to highlight whether, and how, the teachers' views may have changed through their training and early years of experience. Since the samples were different, the comparisons are cross-sectional rather than longitudinal, so the results are suggestive rather than firm. Fig. 5.1 summarises the results in graphical form.


Figure 5.1: Comparisons between the attitudes of entering students, exiting students, and NQTs

Details of items

1. The most important thing a teacher can do is teach pupils facts that they need to know (Facts)

2. School pupils learn more from listening to the teacher than from asking questions (Listen)

3. Teachers cannot do much to improve the academic performance of low achieving students (Slow lrn)

4. Children need to be divided into ability groups to be taught well (Grouping)

6. Teachers find it difficult to maintain discipline in schools without corporal punishment (Punish)

7. Teachers are born not made (Tchrs born)

8. My friends think I am fortunate to be training to be a school teacher (Fortune)

9. Teaching is a very difficult job to do well (Difficult)

10. I would rather teach in a secondary school than a primary school (Pref Sec)

11. I would rather have gone to university than teacher training college (Pref Uni)2

2 Adapted from Coultas and Lewin (2002). No.5 was not applicable to Lesotho.

As can be seen, the mean responses did not vary greatly. Typically the range in mean score is 0.5 or less between the greatest and the least. This suggests that in the main the attitudes expressed here are fairly stable. However, there are some potentially interesting changes, and three items - 3, 9 and 11 - show a consistent direction of difference between entry, exit and NQT.

5.6.1 Views on Teaching and Learning

Most respondents agree with importance of 'teaching students facts', but the entering students seem least certain, while the exiting students agree most strongly. Opinion is more divided on the statement that 'pupils learn more from asking questions than from listening to the teacher'; though all groups tend to disagree, the exiting group are least sure. The majority of respondents agree that 'children need to be grouped according to ability', though again the exiting students are least certain. There is much stronger agreement among NQTs and the exit group that children do 'learn best in small groups', though whether this is actually done in practice is doubtful, from the classroom observation. On the evidence presented here the college course seems to reinforce traditional approaches: a focus on facts, transmission methods, and whole class teaching. This was indeed what was observed among the NQTs.

Exiting students and NQTs share similar views about their teaching: they tend to think it is 'easy to use new teaching methods', and claim to 'write down how to improve' their lessons. They disagree firmly that 'making teaching/learning aids is difficult' but are less sure that there is enough 'time in school for teachers to plan lessons'. The strongest disagreement, for all the groups, is with the statement that 'teachers cannot do much to improve the results of slow learners' and this increases from entry through to NQTs. It is heartening that their training apparently helps young teachers to feel more confident of their effectiveness.

5.6.2 Corporal Punishment

There is some ambivalence about using the cane. Given the statement 'teachers find it difficult to maintain discipline without corporal punishment': the entering students disagree significantly*3 more strongly than those who have been through the training. On the other hand exiting students and NQTs agree quite strongly that 'Corporal punishment is not useful for helping children to learn'. It seems they believe it is wrong but a number feel it is still necessary.

3 Chi square where *=p<0.05

5.6.3 Nature of the teacher and attitudes to training

A majority of respondents in all the groups believe 'teachers are born not made', though the entering students are least sure. However, responses to further statements suggest most of those who have experienced professional training see it as important. Thus while exiting and NQTs groups said they felt 'well prepared to start teaching', they also agree they 'need more training to be effective' and that even those 'good at teaching' should be trained. These results seem to confirm the other evidence that respondents value their training; they believe it is both necessary and useful, and that it helps them to do their job more effectively.

5.6.4 Assessment

The exiting student teachers agreed that 'all one needs to do well in College tests is a good memory'. This could be a reflection of the low quality of recall type of questions in the College's tests and examinations. The student teachers marginally disagreed with the statement that 'doing well in college examinations is easier than doing well at secondary school', but tended to agree that examinations are a 'fair test' of what they have learnt. They also agreed that they prefer 'being assessed through assignment than through end-of-term examinations'.

5.6.5 Perceptions of the teaching profession

The responses appear to show considerable ambivalence. The statement 'teaching is a very difficult job to do well' elicits mounting disagreement among the three groups, suggesting confidence increases with training and experience. On the other hand, NQTs seem less likely than exiting students to agree that 'teaching is easier than many other jobs I could do'. Both groups tend to agree that 'being a teacher is the best job I can get', and that 'primary school teachers are respected'.

On the whole, the groups agree that their friends 'think I'm fortunate to be a teacher'. This is most strongly marked among NQTs and least among the exiting students. Most indicate they would not 'prefer to teach in a secondary school', again this being most strongly indicated by the exiting group. However, when asked if they 'would rather have gone to university', there is a clear trend over time towards agreement, and the NQTs are significantly* more likely to wish they had. This is consistent with their yearnings to 'further their studies' in some way.

Thus most seem relatively satisfied with a career in primary teaching, though with experience comes an increasing regret they had only been to the College. Some dissatisfaction is indicated by the way the exit and NQT groups also agree they 'know many teachers who would prefer to do other jobs'.

On the gender question, there is a tendency to agree that 'women make the best primary school principals', and to disagree that 'men make the best primary school class teachers'.

Care must be taken in interpreting these patterns, given the problems of sampling, respondents' interpretation of the statements, and construct validity. However, certain patterns seem to emerge:

- The training course does not seem to produce radical shifts in their views.
- Some changes in attitudes may be reversed after they have moved to schools.
- In some aspects, more traditional attitudes seem to be reinforced rather than challenged.
- Most seem relatively content to be primary teachers.

These findings cannot be considered conclusive. However, they are not inconsistent with other data from the questionnaires (see next section), and from the classroom observations.