|dc.description.abstract||In the educational world of the eighties, despite burgeoning
technologies and the silicon chip, and despite a multiplicity of aims
and philosophies of education, it is axion~tic that progress amongst
learners depends on the effectiveness of teaching and so on the
quality of teachers. The definition which "effective teaching"
assumes in any particular society is determined, of course, by many
inter-related factors, not least the prevailing political, religious
and economic ideologies. The successful teacher is generally
viewed, it would appear, as one who succeeds in the transmission or
generation of "valid" knowledge, and judgment by others is impl icit
in the concept of validity.
Because participation in the process of learning at school is essentially
a human experience, a matter of interpersonal relationships, any
statement about it is open to question; but as the evaluation of teacher
expertise plays an important role in systems of education, the methods
and concerns of such evaluation merit close study. In the Republic
of South Africa the evaluation of teacher competence has recently
assumed considerable significance with the introduction of a "merit
assessment" system, and one of the chief concerns of the present work
is a critical study of such assessment. Related concerns include
teacher attitude towards assessment (in which context the Natal
Teachers' Society Conference motion 19 of 1981 is apposite:
"That this Conference expresses its total opposition
to the merit award system as presently implemented" Mentor
September 1981 p.152) ;
and the place of such assessment in the context of contemporary models
of organization theory, of educational administration and of school
management. Cognisance has been taken of the Report of the Human Sciences Research Council Investigation into Education (1981) which
was initiated, in part, by "grave dissatisfaction in the teaching
profession" 1, and which proposes real consultation for teachers in
the administration of education, based on participation, involvement
and negotiation. Though seen from a wide-ranging and international
perspective, teacher competence will in this work ultimately be
defined from a South African perspective; and as the data are Natal
based, Natal will be taken as an example of the Republic of South
Africa. However, sight will never be lost of broader perspectives.
The concerns, aim and scope of this work do not end with teachers,
but are also bound up with children for it is they whose benefit or
advancement depends on competent teaching.
In an attempt to determine what children thought about teacher effectiveness,
Musgrove and Taylor (1969) analysed 1379 essays by school
pupi 1s on the topi cs "A good teacher" and "A poor teacher". Sca 1es
were drawn up with statements reflecting the ideas most frequently
voiced by pupils on teaching method, discipline, teachers' personal
qualities and organizing abilities, and these scales were subsequently
tested on hundreds of other children and teachers. Musgrove and
Taylor, in reviewing their research, concluded inter alia that
"Pupils expect teachers to teach. They value
lucid exposition, the clear statement of
problems, and guidance in their solution.
Personal qualities of kindness, sympathy and
patience are secondary .... (teachers) are
expected to assume an essentially
intellectual and instrumental role."
(as quoted by Morrison and McIntyre, p.17l)
The findings tended to uphold the idea of a structured "formal"
relationship reminiscent of Waller's 1932 dictum that the effective
teacher should maintain a social distance from his pupils and be
relatively meaningless as a person. Other writers such as Postman and Weingartner (1969) suggest very different advice to teachers!
The meaning of "good teaching" will be investigated in chapter three
of this work, in terms of a survey of the appropriate literature but
the specific criteria of good teaching in a particular country,
for example South Africa, depend on a range of overt and hidden
factors, and are the material of much ongoing debate.
The variety of the comment calls to mind the important question of how
a teacher's effectiveness mayor (perhaps more important) should be
judged: whether in terms of instrumental goal-attainment by pupils,
or in terms of personal growth through satisfying classroom relationships
or somehow in between these ends.
In a world where technology and its application in education through a
skills-Qased or objectives-centred approach is tending to debase the
essentially person-to-person element of teaching, the concept of
competent teaching is in danger of being reduced to allegedly measurable
entities. In true handbook tradition, some texts, for example
Stones and Morris (1972), almost suggest checklists for success 1n
teaching, thus reducing a complex act of communication to a set of
clinical procedures. While inexperienced student teachers may need
direction and guidance in the development of particular skills, there
is a danger in viewing or assessing the qualified person merely in
terms of such skills or categories.
Esland (1977) distinguishes between two extremes in teacher presentation.
One, the "psychometric", stresses measurable advancement and reflects a
behaviourist outlook. The other, the "epistemological", finds expression
in education which stresses personal development. Depending on how a
society interprets the elements of curriculum, pedagogy and evaluation,
identified by Bernstein and Young (1970) as basic to any process of
education, or on what view of the teacher and his task prevails, the
criteria of good teaching will vary. Apart from the mere criteria,
there is the important matter of interpretation and subjectivity on the
part of anyone attempting to evaluate performance in a complex web of interaction. When, in turn, evaluation (implying overall judgment)
is linked with assessment (which by definition involves some kind of
measurement and therefore presupposes valid units and instruments), as
in the case in South Africa, the situation becomes more problematic.
Any assessment system is obviously grounded on a philosophical view
of man within the organization. In this regard Ramos (1975) has
warned social scientists and organization theorists about holding outdated
versions of the model of organizational man. He claims that
many contemporary organizations have a mechanistic view or a humanistic
view of employees, which ignore the fact that man has a rationality
beyond administrative behaviour and that man
"in striving to be autonomous, cannot be explained by
the psychology of conformi ty" (Ramos, 1975,
p. 50) •
This model of man, Ramos asserts, has emerged from a wealthy technological
society, and (he)
"would have a strong sense of self and an urge to
find meaning in life. He would not uncritically
accept standards of achievement, though he might
be a great achiever when assigned creative tasks"
It would be tragic if education authorities were to ignore the creative
thinker with the capability to change the prevailing environment, or as
Ramos terms him, the parenthetical man, through the development of
assessment systems which promoted and rewarded conformity.
It must be recognised that the teacher has virtually unparalleled
responsibility in society, for his actions contribute to the fate of
society; it is the teacher who, ideally, "critically appraises, edits, sifts and clarifies
society's trends, extracts its highest values and
makes them implicit in himself as a man .... and
explicit in his teachings" (Prosser, 1976, p.6).
Such actions imply leadership and initiative of the highest order,
and remind one of the importance of the teacher as a humanizing
influence and as an element of stability in a world of increasing change.
A brief overview of the scope and coverage of this work now follows.
Chapter one reviews the concepts of assessment, evaluation and quality
in teaching. It sketches problem areas such as the difficulties of
assessment within differing political and social systems, the demands
for the accountability of teachers because of massive financial
investment in education, and the position of a professional in a
bureaucratic structure. Semantic differences emerging from the terms
assessment, .evaluati_o~ and ~FlJr~lis~ hdve largely been ignored in this
work because of differing usages in which the words tend to blend into
synonyms. In the writer's own use of the words, influenced by the
Concise Oxford Dictionary, evaluation is seen as the act of observing
a teacher's performance and indicating general aspects of strength or
weakness (from OF aprisier, ! - to and prlsler - praise). Appraisal
(from F evaluer, e - ex and valuer - value) suggests a slightly more
judgmental response based on specific aims or values. Assessment (from
L assessare - a combination of frequent and sit, originally to fix
taxes) is seen more as an act of judgment based on numerical or other
fixed expressions. As previously indicated, current practice in
South Africa attempts to combine these processes.
In chapter two the focus shifts to the behaviour of people within
organizations and the need to take into account organization theory, as
well as administrative and managerial concepts, in order to establish
implications for the assessment of teachers. Views of man, as an
organizational being, are reviewed and current practices in hierarchical
systems with regard to delegation of responsibility and development of staff are indicated.
A specific consideration of the act of teaching occurs in chapter three,
where a review of the literature on teacher competence is undertaken.
No such review could be exhaustive, and is meant in the present context
to serve as background rather than as a definitive pronouncement.
Chapter four includes a consideration of procedures for the assessment
of teacher competence within centralized and decentralized education
authorities, and a comparative study of methods used in England, the
United States and Australasia. A full account is given of the policy
and practices of all aspects of teacher assessment, including assess-.
ment for promotion, operating in the Natal Education Department, and
comparisions are drawn with procedures in other provincial education
authorities. The question of "merit assessment" of teachers in the
Republic of South Africa is broached and teacher reaction to it is indicated.
In chapter five, an historical and criticdl account is given of the
assessment of teachers in South Africa, with specific reference to
Natal, and with emphasis on the "merit assessment" system as established
in 1978. A detailed study is made of answers to a questionnaire
drawn up by the writer and distributed to assessors of teachers in two
education authorities in Natal.
Chapter six contains a summary of major conclusions ar1s1ng from the
study. Innovations are suggested, on established principles, with a
view to recommending change 1n the assessment of teachers. The
situation in Natal is borne 1n mind throughout, but the conclusions
and suggestions are of a general nature.||en