Master of Philosophy in Education Thesis

April 17, 1996

Relationship between Teacher Competence and Teachers' Inferences of Students' Multidimensional Self-concept

WONG Yu Fai, Tommy


In the present study, teacher competence is classified into two main categories : " Interpersonal Skills " and " Classroom Procedures " . Although the present study does not wish to imply that teacher competence can be explained solely and exclusively by means of these two factors, these two dimensions clearly are the most essential and important for assessing teacher competence. The importance of these two categories of teacher competence can be justified by the fact that large number of previous studies on the assessment of teacher competence also included these two aspects of teacher competence.

The results of the present study showed that teacher competence in classroom procedures contributed more to teachers' abilities to infer students' self-concept. Therefore, teachers should improve their competence in classroom procedures. For example, teachers may increase the use of instructional techniques, methods and media related to the teaching objectives, communicate more frequently with students in the classroom, reinforce and encourage students' involvement in instruction and organise time, materials and equipment appropriate for instructions. If teachers can improve their communications and performance inside classroom they would be in a better position to communicate and understand their students as well as infer their self-concept. Since students believe that they are supposed to receive knowledge presented by teacher, they would be more expressive and willing to communicate with teacher during teaching-learning process inside the classroom. And understanding of students is a prerequisite for effective teaching and learning, thus, teachers' improvement in their teacher competence of classroom procedures can, to a certain extent, contribute to academic improvement of students.

In the present study, student-teacher agreement in the ratings of students' self-concept is higher in specific domain where teachers can make daily observation in schools. However, for those domains of students' self-concept where teachers cannot observe in school teachers are more difficult and unable to have any information. In this way, for those students who have low academic self-concept but high non-academic self-concept, some teachers may underestimate the overall performances and abilities of these students. Then teachers may have low expectations on these students and the subsequent actual performance of the student may be affected and it is clear that it is detrimental to effective learning of the students. Therefore, teachers should have more communications with students and obtain a more comprehensive picture of the students' abilities in non-academic domains of self-concept as well. In other word, the present study suggests that teachers' judgements of their students' abilities and competence should not be biased towards the academic domains or those domains that teachers can observe in schools. On the other hand, teachers should base their judgements of students' abilities on broader bases.

From the perspective of teacher education, more emphasis should be placed on the study of the structure of students' multidimensional self-concept. A number of recent studies ( Jackson, 1988, Shulman, 1986, 1987 ) criticized the teacher training programs and suggested new directions to improve the effectiveness of teacher training in relation to student learning in schools. Understanding of the structure of students' self-concept, to a certain extent, can help to improve students' learning, especially the multidimensional structure of students' self-concept.

In teacher training program more efforts have to be placed on teaching student-teachers in presenting knowledge in a systematic way, creating a good learning atmosphere for students, encouraging students' participation in class activities and eventually establishing a good teacher-student relationship. All these are related to teacher competence in classroom procedures in the present study and the result showed that teacher competence in classroom procedures has contributed more to teachers' abilities to infer students' self-concept.

On the part of teachers, they can make use of the information obtained from students about their competence for self-evaluation. Teachers can understand themselves more clearly and improvements in their teaching can be made. Evaluation of teacher competence by students enable teachers to develop multiple perspectives about teaching and learning, and to become more flexible, adaptive and creative ( Floden & Feiman, 1981 ). Since students spend most of the day with teachers and thus students are supposed to know more about their teachers in the learning context. Feedback from students can help teachers identify their weaknesses and inadequacies and improvements in teaching can be made.

Another important issue the present study addressed was the relationship between teacher competence and teachers' abilities to infer students' self-concept. Despite the fact that voluminous definitions and criteria are given to teacher competence, not much attention is given to teachers' inferences of students' self-concept. Teachers' inferences of students' self-concept may affect teaching and learning outcomes as well as academic achievement of the students. The present study showed that the correlation between teacher competence and teachers' inferences of students' self-concept was high, suggesting that teachers' inferences of students' self-concept could be a part of teacher competence. Including teachers! abilities to infer students' self-concept in studies of teacher competence might provide direction for future research.

However, this research suffered from certain limitations. Since the students in the present study were chosen from senior secondary forms (Form 3, 4 and 6 ) in two aided Anglo-Chinese secondary schools, they could not be claimed to be representative of secondary school students in Hong Kong. A more comprehensive study generalizable to other levels of students would require a larger number of students representing different types of school (e.g., government, aided or private schools ) and different levels ( including junior forms ).

Another limitation in the present study was that teacher competence was confined to two main areas ( Interpersonal Skills and Classroom Procedures ). However, level of teacher competence can be assessed in other aspects, such as relations with colleagues, teaching plans and materials, as well as their professional standards. These and other aspects might have to be included in future studies of teacher competence.

In conclusion, the results of the present study may serve as a reference for future study on related topics. Teacher competence and teachers' inferences of students' self-concept are important issues in bringing about learning improvement of students and teaching effectiveness of teachers.

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