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The Effect of Evaluation of Teachers' Competency on Iranian EFL Learners' Motivation

  فایلهای مرتبط
The Effect of Evaluation of Teachers' Competency on Iranian EFL Learners' Motivation
یکی از رویکردهای جدید که می تواند به اجرای بهتر سند تحول بنیادین کمک شایان توجهی بکند بازدید بالینی و انجام ارزشیابی دقیق و کاربردی از نحوه کلاس داری و توانمندی های دبیران توسط مدیر واحد آموزشی است. در ارزشیابی دبیران پارامترهای مهمی دخیل است، از جمله نحوه ارتباط انفرادی و عاطفی با دانش آموزان، استفاده از ابزار کمک آموزشی و ایجاد جوی آرام و دوستانه در کلاس. اینها هرکدام می تواند مراتب ارتقای انگیزه در زبان آموزان ایرانی را فراهم نماید. بنابراین اگر مدیر فقط سه پارامتر از آیتم های ارزشیابی را به طور جدی و مستمر پیگیری و ارزشیابی را از شکل صوری به شکل عملی و کاربردی تبدیل کند و از دبیر بخواهد به جد این آیتم ها را رعایت نماید و از توانمندی ها و تمامی ظرفیت خود در فرایند یاددهی و یادگیری استفاده کند و خودش نیز پس از مشاهده و ارزیابی، جوانب منفی و مثبت عملکرد معلم را به وی انتقال دهد، و دبیر نیز در جهت رفع موارد منفی کوشش نماید، این امر در ایجاد علاقه و انگیزه زبان آموزان ایرانی نقش مهمی را ایفا خواهد نمود. در این مقاله نشان خواهیم داد که پیگیری مستمر و ارزشیابی دقیق دبیران توسط مدیر، تأثیر بسزایی در بالا بردن انگیزه زبان آموزان ایرانی دارد.

Abstract

The present study sought to examine the effectiveness of evaluation of teachers' competency in EFL classrooms on Iranian learners' motivation. The study was conducted at Alzahra technical school in Qazvin, Iran. 300 female EFL students at intermediate level of proficiency comprised the participants of this study. The researchers selected the participants based on convenience sampling and divided them into two equal groups; each group was randomly assigned to one of the treatment conditions. In the experimental group, the principal observed the classes and constantly reminded the teacher that all the positive and negative points would be taken into account. After eight observation sessions, the principal evaluated the teacher. Throughout all these eight sessions, the teacher was expected to provide a supportive environment in the classroom, and a friendly relationship was expected between the teacher and the students. In the control group, the teacher was not evaluated by the principal. Before and after the experimental period, a motivation questionnaire was administered to both groups of participants to compare the two conditions. An ANCOVA procedure was used to analyze the data. The findings revealed that the evaluation of teachers' competency in EFL classrooms has a statistically significant relationship with Iranian learners' motivation. These findings may have pedagogical implications for language teachers and learners.

 

Key Words : evaluation, teachers' competency, learners' motivation, principal

 

Introduction

The main objective of many educational planning programmes is to grow students' motivation in various cognitive, individual, and social skills necessary to function occupationally in society (Fullan, 2001). Teachers' role in the preparation of students is undeniable. The students' success in future social activities depends to a large extent on their teachers' knowledge and professional development. One issue related to professionalism of teachers has to do with the necessity of bridging the gap between knowledge acquired during formal pre-service education and further developments accruing while teachers are employed (Nir & Bogler, 2007).

On-the-job professional development programs try to bridge this gap by allowing teachers to develop new ideas that will improve their teaching experience and competence (Mtetwa & Thompson, 2000), increase and renew their teaching skills and practices (Desimone, Porter, Garet, Yoon, & Birman, 2002), change their thoughts and perceptions (Guskey, 2002) and bring about improvements in their students’ achievements and motivation (Blandford, 2000). It is believed that the poor quality of EFL instruction can partly be attributed to the lack of teacher's professional development. As a result, evaluation has been introduced as one of the teachers' professional activities to help teachers improve their teaching strategies.

Successful teachers make the most of any opportunities to observe others. They watch a range of teachers' classroom activities. It is very encouraging to see that everyone has similar problems, and it is interesting to study the different ways people manage them (Bubb, 2005). Evaluation may also be helpful for novice teachers as it can help them improve their own teaching skills. Previous research has shown that teacher quality is a crucial factor in student learning; the problem is to identify the important characteristics of teacher quality and help teachers to develop these qualities (Wenglinsky, 2000).Viewing the problem of improving student performance from this point of view makes the development of systematic methods of classroom evaluation a critical component in improving teacher quality.

The important point motivating research in this area is the role of teacher observation in countries like Iran where evaluation of teachers has not taken the place it merits, (Akbari, Ghafar Samar, & Tajik, 2007). Also, evaluation of teaching practice can be seen as a method of teacher training (Wajnryb, 1992).

ELT classroom observations, however, have emphasized the need for more developmental than judgmental approaches to classroom observations. The main purpose of evaluation is not to judge subjectively what is good and bad teaching, but to work with the observee to explore and identify the limitations as well as the positive aspects of teaching, thereby promoting the observee’s critical thinking and professional growth. Such an approach, as Williams (1989, p.85) states, helps teachers to “develop their own judgments of what goes on in their own classrooms, sharpen their awareness of what their pupils are doing and the interactions that take place in their classes, and heighten their ability to evaluate their own teaching practices.” This implies that observation can serve as an intermediary between teachers' teaching philosophies and practices. Nunan (1989, p. 76) also holds that since classrooms are “where the action is”, spending time looking into classrooms can enrich our understanding of language learning and teaching.

The notion of observing teachers' professional development and growth has received considerable attention (Greene, 1992). The problem is that the traditionally static structure of the observation has mainly remained unchanged. As such, the nature of the current student teacher observation is not compatible with the current theories of observation (Rodgersa & Keil, 2007). To fill a part of this gap by taking a reformist step, this study aims to shed light on the potential for observation to offer an alternate avenue for teacher professional development.

Teachers can play a critical role in the observation process in that they can build effective relationships with other teachers based on trust, reflection, and empowerment (Kent, 2001). Research (e.g., Raphael, 2004) shows that teachers who work in collaboration with university academic staff develop skills that can positively affect the observation process. In the present study, we adopted the critical-constructivist perspective which, according to Wang and Odell (2002), reflects the fundamental assumption that knowledge is actively built by learners through the process of active thinking (P. 497). Within the critical-constructivist perspective, observation is connected to teachers’ work with their students, linked to concrete tasks of teaching, organized around problem solving, informed by research, and sustained over time by ongoing conversations and coaching (pp. 42–43).

Different aspects of teacher development and the role of observation in teacher development have already been investigated. However, to the best of the present researchers’ knowledge, few, if any, studies have investigated the effect of the observation of teacher on learners’ motivation. The purpose of the present study, therefore, is to address this issue.

 

Learner Motivation and Teacher Quality

Motivation is among the influential factors that can affect the efficiency of learners in language classes. Hence, language educators should be careful in taking this factor into account in the process of language teaching (Oroujlou & Vahedi, 2011). Motivation plays an important role in the process of language learning. Language teachers cannot efficiently teach a language if they do not comprehend the relationship between motivation and its effect on language learning.

According to Gardner (1985), motivation in second language learning is considered as “referring to the extent to which a student works or struggles to learn the language because of a desire to do so and the pleasure experienced in this activity” (p.10). Dörnyei (2001) believes motivation is a word that both instructors and students utilize widely when they speak about language learning success or failure.

As Gu (2009) points out, early attempts to comprehend the effect of motivation on English language learning were made in the field of social psychology. Nowadays, there is little doubt that motivation influences language learning. The question is ‘can other factors in language learning affect motivation’? One of the factors that are believed to influence learners’ motivation is ‘teacher’.

In fact, teachers’ impact on their students’ motivation starts early in the planning phase of the lesson. The reason is that in the early stages of classroom planning, students’ characteristics, motivational type and pre-existing motivation levels must be taken into account (Schunk, Pintrich & Meece, 2008). Giving praise and criticism are also important factors which can influence students’ motivation. Praise should not be given in too frequently nor too rarely; otherwise, it will lose its positive effect. Criticism can have a positive effect if it is not given too often (Schunk, Pintrich & Meece, 2008). Chambers (1999) also points out that the relationship between the instructor and the learners defines the character of the learning situation, which also influences motivation.

Effective English language teachers need a definite set of abilities. Coniam and Falvey (1999) listed teaching ability, language awareness and language ability. For effective teaching, EFL teachers must first have good teaching skills. Secondly, they should know how the English language works, and how people learn and use it. Third, they must have adequate English language proficiency (Edge, 1998).

 The Effect of Evaluation of Teachers

Various empirical studies (e.g. Clotfelter, Ladd, & Vigdor, 2007) have shown how differences in achievement gains for students are connected to teacher qualifications. Clotfelter, Ladd, and Vigdor (2007) indentified important predictors of student achievement, namely teacher experience, teacher certification test scores, regular licensure, certification of teaching skills, and academic background.

Falout (2006) inspected the factors that demotivated Japanese language learners. The results of this study showed that teachers play an important role in this regard, and the character and pedagogy of teachers were meaningfully related to learners’ perceptions of the course, the subject, and their capabilities to learn a foreign language.

 Piggot (2008) inspected Japanese students’ feelings of the motivating and demotivating classroom factors in learning English. The results showed that teachers’ persona, presentation skills, affiliative motive, and control were among the significant factors that motivated/demotivated students. In another study, Falout et al, (2009) studied the demotivating factors in learning English as a foreign language in Japan and the correlation between EFL learners’ past demotivating experiences and present proficiencies. The results showed that Course Level and Teacher Immediacy were significantly related, implying that the more learners perceive teachers as accessible, the more they perceive the level of the courses as suitable.  In Sakai and Kikuchi’s (2009) study, five demotivating factors were extracted. Teacher competence and teaching style were found to be among the most significant factors that demotivated students in learning English as a foreign language.

Rahimi and Sadighpour (2011) looked at Iranian technical and vocational students’ demotivating factors in learning English as a foreign language. The students reported that teachers and their teaching quality were among the main factors that demotivated them. Maini (2011) focused on the effect of teacher training on classroom management. The results showed a significant increase in teachers’ confidence in managing learners’ misbehavior and in using of rewards as a mediation strategy.

In a longitudinal study, Elliot (1998) concluded that well-qualified instructors had a meaningful influence on students’ achievement. In this study, teacher qualification was measured by education, experience and teaching methods. Evertson, Hawley and Zlotnik (1985) compared well-educated teachers with less educated teachers. The results showed achievement gains for students with well-educated teachers. They also reported that achievement was related to the instructors’ knowledge of the subjects instructed. In a study involving 7000 students, Wenglinsky (2000) found that the quality of the teaching force had a similar influence on students’ test scores as socioeconomic status. In Darling-Hammond’s (1999) study, teacher certificate and subject matter knowledge were found to correlate with students’ test results.

Teacher education is presently facing a number of concerns as pressures have come from many parts in the last decades, with perhaps the most powerful focus being on the issue of teacher quality (Tony & Richard, 2001). As teacher education advocates state, emphasis should be placed on providing educators with the skills necessary to make a meaningful impact on student learning. That is probably why Egelson and McCoskey (1998) assert that an evaluation system designed to encourage individual teacher growth is not a luxury but a necessity. Viewing the problem of improving student motivation and performance from this point of view makes the development of systematic methods of classroom evaluation a critical component in improving teacher quality.

 Also, despite the impact of evaluation as a professional development activity on teachers and students' development, it remains unclear how the process of evaluation will be implemented in the classroom and how it can help teachers develop their teaching strategies. Accordingly, this study aimed to investigate the effect of constant monitoring of teaching practice on students' motivation improvement in learning. To this end, the present study aimed to answer the following research question:

RQ: Does the evaluation of teachers' competency have a statistically significant effect on Iranian EFL learners' motivation?

 

Method

Participants

The participants of this study were 300 female EFL students at the lower intermediate level of proficiency. All of the participants were native speakers of Persian studying at Alzahra technical school in Qazvin, Iran. They ranged from 16 to 17 in terms of age, and they were in grade two of high school. The researchers selected the participants based on convenience sampling and divided them into two groups randomly. Each group consisted of 150 participants.

 

Instruments and materials

In the present study, a motivation questionnaire was used before and after the treatment. The researchers administered a pretest to measure the students' level of motivation before the treatment. For this test, out of a total of 160 items from different questionnaires, 30 items were chosen, and the participants were asked to choose from among five alternatives including strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree.

The number of items in the original questionnaires was many, so the researchers decided to limit the number of items for two reasons: First of all, only items were selected that were related to the topic of this study. Second, the items were also related to the criteria that are used in the technical school to evaluate teachers. Meanwhile, due to the fact that the proficiency level of the participants was low, the researchers translated the questions into Persian to ensure accurate comprehension. This questionnaire consisted of two sections. The first part contained 18 items which evaluated learners' motivation. The second part consisted of 12 items which evaluated the atmosphere of the classroom, appearance of the teacher, interpersonal relationship between teacher and students and the usage of educational aids.

Although the items of the newly-designed questionnaire were selected from already established questionnaires, to make sure that the new combination of items was reliable in the context of this study, the reliability of the questionnaire was checked using Cronbach's alpha, and the reliability analysis showed a reliability index of .86.    

 

Procedure and data analysis

To achieve the aim of the study, the following procedures were followed. First, 300 learners received the motivation pretest. They were then divided into two groups, and each group was randomly assigned to one of the treatment conditions. First of all the principal explained the duties of each teacher as well as her evaluation sheet.

The Presidency for Management and Human Capital Development has laid down certain duties for all government employees. Ministry of Education has assigned duties to teachers based on the Document of Fundamental Change communicated by The Presidency for Management and Human Capital Development as a ‘Description of Teachers Duties Form’. These forms have various applications. They have special uses in our education system. The school principal should fill them out when necessary. The number of items is different in each section. Teachers’ duties are mentioned in the forms. In the present study, three features were common in these five forms, and these features had more significance for the principal, who was also one of the researchers. The principal selected the following three items.

a) The teacher should use educational aids in the classroom.

b) The main concern of the teacher should be creating motivation and promoting motivation in the process of learning.

c) The teacher should provide a supportive environment in the classroom and there should be a friendly relationship between the teacher and students.

In the experimental group, the principal constantly reminded the teachers that all the positive and negative points would be taken into account. Each week, the principal observed the classes and evaluated the whole process of language learning. In contrast, the teacher in the comparison group was not evaluated by the principal, and there was no other intervention by the principal.

By using the fourth form known as ‘Monitoring Teacher Performance’ the principal monitored the performance of the teacher in the classroom. The principal marked and credited the fourth form after observing the teacher's performance in the classroom. The final score given by the principal could have an important effect on the salary of the teachers.

After eight observation sessions, the principal evaluated the teacher. Throughout all these eight sessions, the teacher was expected to provide a supportive environment in the classroom, and a friendly relationship was expected between the teacher and the students.           After the required data were collected, to test the research hypothesis and to answer the research question, an ANCOVA procedure was run on the data.    

 

Results

In order to assess the reliability of the motivation questionnaire, the researchers used the data collected from 300 EFL learners. The results, as represented in Table 4.1, revealed that Cronbach’s Alpha was 0.86, which is good indicator of internal consistency.

An ANCOVA (Analysis of Covariance) procedure was used to compare the motivation of the two groups of participants before and after the treatment. Before running the ANCOVA the assumptions were checked. The evaluation of teachers' competence was considered as the between-subject factor, motivation posttest scores as the dependent variable and motivation pretest scores as the covariate. Table1. contains the results of tests of between-subjects effects.

Table1.

The Effect of Evaluation of Teachers

The tests of between-subjects effects (Table1. above) showed a statistically significant effect of the evaluation of teachers' competence in EFL classrooms (F (1, 297) = 85, p < .05, Eta square= .22) on Iranian intermediate learners' motivation in learning. As a result, the null hypothesis was rejected. Therefore, it can be claimed that the evaluation of teachers' competence in EFL classrooms had a statistically significant effect on Iranian intermediate learners' motivation.

 

Discussion

The research question in the present study focused on the importance of evaluating teachers' competence in enhancing Iranian lower intermediate learners' motivation. The results provided fairly strong support for the effect of evaluation. In accordance with the result of the present study, Moiinvaziri (2008) claimed that Iranian students are both instrumentally and integratively motivated to learn English. The result of the present study is consistent with previous studies (Falout et al, 2009; Sakai & Kikuchi, 2009) which have shown that evaluating teachers' competencies enhances, encourages, and facilitates EFL learners' motivation. In addition, the findings of this study corroborate those of Piggot (2008), who reported how evaluation assisted learners' motivation in learning a new language.

The findings of the present study extend those of previous studies in that they support evaluation that could be utilized to assist learning motivation. Numerous studies have shown that evaluation bears positive impact on motivation (Evertson, Hawley, & Zlotnik, 1985; Maini, 2011; Rahimi & Sadighpour, 2011).

Evertson, Hawley, and Zlotnik (1985) found that a useful way for promoting motivation is evaluating teachers' competency. This is supported by the findings of the present study. Additionally, Douglas, Harris and Sass (2007) state that classroom evaluation results in higher motivation. Further support for the finding of the present study comes from Ashton and Webb (1986), who showed that teachers' evaluation had the greatest impact on student motivation.

According to Darling-Hammond (2000), teachers with more preparation for teaching are more confident and successful with students than teachers who have little preparation or none (As cited in Garcia, 2011); this is supported by the findings of the present study. Moreover, it can be concluded that the proposed technique, i.e. evaluation teachers' competency, can be used to enhance EFL learners' motivation, as an effective way in language classrooms.

On the other hand, the findings of the present study are in contrast with those of Jacob and Lefgren (2004), who found no relationship between teachers' participation in professional development activities and student achievement; other studies have found higher levels of students' motivation related to teachers’ professional development relevant to the area in which they are teaching (Brown, Smith, & Stein, 1995; Cohen & Hill, 1977; Wiley & Yoon, 1995).

Most of the studies have considered some form of impact of professional development on teachers’ knowledge and practice which includes the effectiveness of programs on personal changes of teachers' cognition, beliefs, practice and teachers' satisfaction as well as pupil change (Avolas, 2011). There are different results which show a relationship between teachers’ participation in professional development activities and student outcomes.

The significantly higher motivation on the posttest for the students in the teacher-evaluation group over those in the no-evaluation group may have been due, at least in part, to information provided in the teacher evaluation/feedback that was directly relevant to the program content assessed on the posttest. Classroom observations revealed that teachers did a particularly good job of teaching the instructional content that, in general, was relatively unfamiliar to them. The difficulties that the teachers had while delivering the instructional program could be attributed to the fact that instructional methods and assessment strategies included in the program were relatively new to the teachers.

Of practical importance is the fact that the teacher whose classrooms were visited by the principal tended to value specific effective teaching practices more than did the teacher whose classrooms were not visiled by the principal.

 

Conclusion

Based on the findings of the present study, we can conclude teachers' class evaluation is received well by EFL teachers, and its introduction is beneficial and effective for both teachers and students. Promoting teacher evaluation is clearly in the national interest and it serves students and their families and communities. Teachers need feedback on their performance to help them identify how to better shape and improve their teaching practice and, with the support of effective school leadership, to develop schools as professional learning communities. At the same time, teachers should be accountable for their performance and progress in their careers on the basis of demonstrated effective teaching practice.

The findings in this study do clearly establish the usefulness of the supervisory method used in the present study which clearly helped the teacher to work toward change. It further showed that, by working with teachers in some capacity, supervisors can change the way teachers feel about the teaching techniques which ought to be employed in their classrooms and, consequently, their motivation. This conclusion, together with the implications for a differentiated approach to teacher supervision, formed the most significant findings of this study.

Developing a comprehensive approach may be costly, but is critical for enhancing educational quality, and improving teaching practices through professional development. The results of this study showed that evaluation of teachers' competency in EFL classrooms significantly affects teachers' development and their students' motivation in learning. Of course, this study has some limitations which can be considered in future research. First, as the focus of this study was only on direct evaluation, other studies can be conducted on other variables like participants' major, motivation, psychological characteristics, and attitude. Second, as the number of participants was limited to 150 EFL students, other studies can be done with more participants.Third, as all the participants of this study studied English language in schools, future studies can be done with higher level participants at universities to see whether the results are different or not. Last but not least, as gender was considered not as a variable in this study, future studies can be done just by male participants or female participants simultaneously in order to understand whether there are any differences between the results of male and female participants.

 

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کلیدواژه (keyword): Research,ارزشیابی,انگیزه زبان آموزان,توانمندی های معلم,مدیر مدرسه,evaluation,teachers' competency,learners' motivation,principal,The Effect of Evaluation of Teachers' Competency on Iranian EFL Learners' Motivation,Abbas Ali Zarei, Azam Sadat Mousavi
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