Consistency and variation in classroom practice: a mixed-method investigation based on case studies of four EFL teachers of a disadvantaged secondary school in Hong Kong
Ko, James Yue-on (2010) Consistency and variation in classroom practice: a mixed-method investigation based on case studies of four EFL teachers of a disadvantaged secondary school in Hong Kong. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.
This mixed methods study was based on teacher case studies examining classroom practices of four EFL teachers of the same department of an underperforming secondary school in a socially-disadvantaged area in Hong Kong. Beside two international classroom observation instruments used for the quantitative classroom observations, extensive qualitative field notes were collected concurrently. Confirmatory factor analyses using the lesson as the unit of analysis generated a six-factor and a three-factor of model teaching behaviours respectively. For both instruments, results showed strong validity and reliability for strongly correlated underlying dimensions of teaching practices. Considerable differential teaching effectiveness in terms of inconsistency in observed teaching behaviours of the four teachers was noted across the various dimensions and across contexts. The qualitative field notes provided evidence that increased understanding of the variation in observed practice. Two teachers showed teaching behaviours more inconsistent across dimensions and lessons, though their effectiveness in certain dimensions in some lessons was found. Their fluctuating teaching effectiveness seemed to be under the influences of student year groups, class composition, subject content, school policy on learning, rather than class size. Themes emerged from the interviews with these teachers, the department head and the school principal suggested that cultural and school contexts might result in inconsistent teaching behaviours and revealed challenges and contradictions at individual, department, school, and system levels. This study was significant in demonstrating that both the generic and differentiated theories of teacher effectiveness may be required to account for the full spectrum of observed teaching behaviours. It also contributed to testing validity and reliability of two classroom observation instruments as it indicated that the high-inference instrument used by the inspectors might be slightly better in predicting overall judgment of lesson quality, while the lower inference instrument developed by the academics tended to generate underlying dimensions that were more distinguishable.
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