Concept of teacher effectiveness

Concept of teacher effectiveness

“Teacher is a student for ever in his career.”


The World Declaration on Education for All, states that primary education must be universal to ensure that the basic needs of all children are met. Basic learning needs are defined in terms of the essential learning tools and the basic learning content that people require in order to survive, to live and work with dignity, to improve the quality of their lives, to make informed decisions, and to continue learning. But the quality of education has been suffering. Education for all is all very well, but good quality education for all is another story.

Teachers and the instruction they give their students are only two of a complex set of factors that have an impact on student learning. One of the fundamental truths in education is that the knowledge, skills, aptitudes, attitudes and values with which students leave school or a particular teacher’s classroom are influenced to a great extent by the knowledge, skills, aptitudes, attitudes and values that students possessed when they entered the school or classroom. In addition, the knowledge, skills, aptitudes, attitudes and values that students possess when they enter a school or classroom are the result of some intricate and complex combination of their genetic composition and the environment to which they have been exposed in their homes.

In addition to these genetic and environmental factors which are beyond the control of any teacher, teachers are powerless in terms of making learning occur; they cannot simply open up the tops of their students’ heads and pour in the desired learning. The stimulus-response theory has long been dismissed as a viable theory for understanding the link between teaching and learning (that is, teachers teach (stimulus) and students learn (response)).

As Tyler pointed out over half a century ago, learning depends on the activities of the student: Students learn according to what they do, not according to what their teacher does; they either pay attention or they do not; they either construct their knowledge consistently with the teacher’s intended construction of knowledge, or they do not. More than a quarter of a century later, Roth Kopf reinforced Tyler’s contention by emphasizing the negative case: “The student has complete veto power over the success of instruction”. Teachers can neither make students pay attention, nor can they construct meaning for them. So what can teachers do? What exactly is the role of the teacher in student learning?

Teachers must create conditions that reduce the likelihood that students will use their veto power and increase the probability that students will put forth the time and effort needed to learn what their teachers intend them to learn, that is the teacher effectiveness.

concept of teacher effectiveness

Effective teachers are those who achieve the goals which they set for themselves or which they have set for them by others such as ministries of education, legislators and other government officials, school / college administrators. Effective teachers must possess the knowledge and skills needed to attain the goals, and must be able to use that knowledge and those skills appropriately if these goals are to be achieved.

 In Medley’s terms, the possession of knowledge and skills falls under the heading of ‘teacher competence’ and the use of knowledge and skills in the classroom is referred to as ‘teacher performance’, Teacher competence and teacher performance with the accomplishment of teacher goals, is the ‘teacher effectiveness’.

Four major assumptions are implicit in this definition of teacher effectiveness.

The first is that “Effective teachers tend to be aware of and actively pursue goals.” These goals, in turn, guide their planning as well as their behaviours and interactions with students in the classroom. This assumption does not mean that effective teachers are always aware of goals; in fact, awareness is particularly likely to be lacking when goals have been established for teachers by others. Using current educational terminology, these ‘goals established by others’ are referred to as ‘standards’ (sometimes ‘content standards’ or ‘curriculum standards’). That is, standards are externally imposed goals that indicate what students should know and be able to do as a result of the instruction that they receive.

The second assumption is that “The teaching is an intentional and reasoned act.” Teaching is intentional because we always teach for some purpose, primarily to facilitate learning. Teaching is reasoned because what teachers teach their students is judged by them to be worthwhile.

The third assumption implicit in this definition of teacher effectiveness is that “The vast majority of teachers’ goals are, or should be, concerned either directly or indirectly with their students’ learning.” An example of direct teacher concern with learning is a teacher who states that he or she intends to help students develop the ability to differentiate facts from opinions, or reality from fantasy. An example of indirect teacher concern with learning is a teacher who sets out to decrease the level of disruptive behaviour in the classroom because he or she believes that learning cannot occur before the level of disruptive behaviour is reduced. It should be obvious that if teachers’ goals are stated in terms of their students’ learning, then the “Teacher effectiveness must be defined, and can only be assessed, in terms of behaviours and learning of students, not behaviours of teachers”.

A fourth assumption underlying this definition of teacher effectiveness is that “No teacher is effective in every aspect of their profession”. For example a primary school teacher may be highly successful in teaching reading comprehension to his or her students while struggling to teach them the elements of rudimentary problem-solving in mathematics. Likewise a secondary literature teacher may be quite able to teach students an appreciation of poetry, but have some difficulty in teaching them how to interpret the symbolism in a series of novels. Thus, the degree to which a given teacher is effective depends, to a certain extent, on the goals being pursued by that teacher.

Similarly, an elementary school teacher may be very gifted in dealing with less able students, while at the same time feeling quite frustrated with his or her inability to render the work more challenging for the more able students. A secondary mathematics teacher may be particularly adept with students who are well motivated to learn mathematics, but have great difficulty motivating those who question why they have to learn mathematics in the first place. Thus, the degree to which a teacher is effective also depends, to a large extent, on the characteristics of the students being taught by the teacher.

Despite the underlying assumptions, it seems reasonable to assume that those who are referred to as being ‘effective teachers’ are more often than not effective in achieving specified learning goals. In other words, there is some degree of consistency in these teachers’ effectiveness vis-à-vis classroom conditions, time and goals. However, this effectiveness does not stem from rigid adherence to a standard set of behaviours, activities, methods or strategies in all situations. Rather, teachers who are consistently effective are those who are able to adapt their knowledge and skills to the demands inherent in various situations so as to best achieve their goals. Doing whatever is necessary in order to achieve these goals, rather than doing certain things in certain ways or using certain methods or techniques, is a hallmark of an effective teacher.

Finally, we can say that an effective teacher is one who quite consistently achieves goals – be they self-selected or imposed – that are related either directly or indirectly to student learning.

Characteristics associated with effective teachers

Teacher characteristics are relatively stable traits that are related to, and influence, the way of teachers practice in their profession. These characteristics are organized into four ‘clusters’: professionalism, thinking/reasoning, expectations and leadership.






Commitment to doing everything possible for each student and enabling all students to be successful



Belief in one’s ability to be effective and to take on challenges



Being consistent and fair; keeping one’s word



Belief that all individuals matter and deserve respect


Analytical thinking

Ability to think logically, break things down, and recognize cause and effect


Conceptual thinking

Conceptual thinking Ability to identify patterns and connections, even when a great deal of detail is present


Drive for improvement

Relentless energy for setting and meeting challenging targets, for students and the school


Information seeking

Information seeking Drive to find out more and get to the heart of things; intellectual curiosity



Initiative Drive to act now to anticipate and pre-empt events



Ability and willingness to adapt to the needs of a situation and change tactics



Accountability Drive and ability to set clear expectations and parameters and hold others accountable for performance


Passion for learning

Passion for learning Drive and ability to support students in their learning, and to help them become confident and independent learners


Conceptual model/framework of teacher effectiveness

A conceptual framework of teacher effectiveness is a model of reality that includes the key concepts that are used to understand reality and the relationships between and among these concepts.

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The conceptual model contains six concepts. Two of these concepts – teacher characteristics and student characteristics are already discussed but the characteristics of both teachers and students are important to consider in examining and seeking understanding teacher effectiveness.

Three concepts in the middle column of conceptual model are clearly alterable, these concepts are – curriculum, classroom and teaching – can be expected to result in increases or decreases in teacher effectiveness. As a consequence, policies related to these concepts are also quite likely to result in increases or decreases in teacher effectiveness.

The first concept (curriculum) includes the standards that define the intended student learning outcomes – the objectives. The curriculum also includes the learning units that are designed to help students achieve those standards (or objectives). Dividing the curriculum into coherent, meaningful learning units is necessary for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that teachers cannot teach all standards simultaneously. However, there are other advantages of dividing the curriculum into learning units. In designing learning units, planners and/or teachers should focus their attention on four primary questions:

1.      What standards/objectives should students achieve in the amount of classroom time allocated to the unit? – The learning question.

2.      What instructional strategies and materials should be included in the unit to enable large numbers of students to achieve high levels of learning? – The instruction question.

3.      What assessment instruments and/or procedures should be included in the unit so that accurate information is gathered on how well students are learning? – The assessment question.

4.      How does one ensure that standards/objectives, instruction and assessment are consistent with one another? – The alignment question.

The concept at the bottom of the second column in conceptual model is the classroom – includes the physical environment, the psychological environment (climate) and the socio-cultural environment (culture), as well as the ways in which both students and learning are organized and managed within these environments. Teachers set the tone for their classrooms, partly by establishing classroom rules and routines and engaging in preventive management behaviours. These rules, routines and behaviours, in turn, influence students’ behaviour in the classroom.

The middle concept in the second column of conceptual model (teaching) consists of the ways in which teachers structure and deliver their lessons and the ways in which they interact, verbally and non-verbally, with their students.

The final concept in conceptual model is student learning. In contrast with student achievement, student learning is a process. Achievement indicates what a student has learned (what he/she knows or can do) at a particular point in time. Learning, on the other hand, refers to changes in achievement over time. That is, if a student does not know something at the beginning of a unit, but does know it (and knows it quite well) at the end, he or she has learned. Because learning is a process, it is possible to gather some information about learning while it is occurring.

In conceptual model, the arrows indicate the direction of the expected influences between and among the concepts. Two types of influence are evident: direct and indirect. Arrows connecting adjacent concepts indicate hypothesized direct influences of one concept on another. For example, student learning is believed to be directly influenced by the curriculum, the teaching, the classroom and the students’ characteristics. These are the four concepts which have arrows directly linked to student learning. Note that the remaining concept (teacher characteristics) is not believed to influence student learning directly, since there is no arrow linking these two concepts. Rather, teacher characteristics are believed to influence student learning indirectly by virtue of their direct influence on the curriculum, the classroom and the teaching.

Determining teacher effectiveness

The criteria of teacher effectiveness employed in these investigations were of two sorts, namely efficiency ratings and pupil gains, as measured by tests administered to the pupils before and after instruction. More specifically, the criteria included the following:

1)     In service rating by:

a)     The superintendent.

b)     The principal.

c)     Other supervisory officials.

d)     Teacher educators.

e)     Departmental personnel.

f)      State departmental personnel.

g)     Self-rating.

2)     Peer rating

3)     Pupil gain score

4)     Pupil rating

5)     Composite of test scores from tests thought to measure teaching effectiveness.

6)     Practice teaching grades.

7)     Combination or composite of some or all of the above criteria not seem to be complicated, so that my comments are lucid, not too long winded and yet stimulating?

8)     With the help of the dimensions of teacher behavior can formulate the aims which I as a teacher wish to attain. Which dimensions seem most important to my work? Which must I renounce first if I do not succeed in realizing a combination of all intended dimensions? What are my own particular problems? In which dimensions should I for preference alter my behavior in order to come closer to my goal?

9)     The system of dimensions of teacher behavior is flexible and can be expanded, so it is less likely to become a strait jacket than is perhaps a typology (The fear of many teachers of becoming “authoritarian” and their great efforts to justify the use of “authority”, demonstrate clearly the obsessional aspects which these concepts have meanwhile acquired. Every teacher can ask himself: which additional dimensions must I invent in order to be able to scrutinize the goals which I have set for my behavior as a teacher?

How to increase teacher effectiveness

How to increase teacher effectiveness; that is, how to get teachers to use this knowledge in order to become more effective in their classrooms. There is little, if any, evidence that enticing teachers, for example by giving them more motivating salaries or coercing them by, for example, making them conform to administrative mandates results in any meaningful, long-lasting improvement in their effectiveness, at least in normal circumstances where teachers are actually paid and where they earn a salary that allows them to live. If teachers are to change the way they teach and, perhaps more importantly, the way they think about their teaching, their reluctance to change must be overcome and support must be provided in their attempts to improve.

Overcoming teachers’ reluctance to change

Teachers are reluctant to change for a number of reasons, most of which are quite understandable. Three of the primary reasons are:

1.      a lack of awareness

2.      a lack of knowledge,

3.      The belief that the changes will not make any difference to them or their students.

Support for improvement efforts

There is ample evidence that few teachers can engage in serious attempts to improve their teaching without the support of others. Virtually all teachers who attempt to change experience some problems and set-backs early on. Without support, these teachers are likely to give up and return to the status quo. Virtually all meaningful change requires time. If changes are expected in less than the time required, efforts to change are likely to be abandoned and disappointment will reign supreme. If improvement efforts are to be successful, then, administrators, supervisors and fellow teachers need to provide several types of support.

1.      Providing opportunities to benefit from mistakes

2.      Providing opportunities to learn from others

3.      Treating teachers as individuals


Effective teacher is one who quite consistently achieves goals – be they self-selected or imposed – that are related either directly or indirectly to student learning. Four major assumptions are implicit in this definition of teacher effectiveness – 1-Effective teachers tend to be aware of and actively pursue goals. 2-The teaching is an intentional and reasoned act. 3-The vast majority of teachers’ goals are, or should be, concerned either directly or indirectly with their students’ learning. And 4-No teacher is effective in every aspect of their profession”.


1.      Basavanthappa, B.T. “Nursing education” Jaypee Brother, New Delhi, First Edition (reprint 2004), Page No. – 254-256.

2.      Lorin W. Anderson, “Increasing teacher effectiveness” UNESCO: International Institute for Educational Planning, Paris 2004, Second edition, Page no. – 19-32 & 109-115.

3.      Increasing teacher effectiveness; Fundamentals of educational …

4.      Assessing teacher effectiveness: developing a differentiated model

5.      Teaching effectiveness and teacher development



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