Understanding Effective Teaching From the Student Perspective: Exploring Dynamics in Teaching Quality

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URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10900/127104
Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2024-03-11
Language: English
Faculty: 6 Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Erziehungswissenschaft
Advisor: Göllner, Richard (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2022-02-11
DDC Classifikation: 150 - Psychology
370 - Education
Other Keywords: Unterrichtsqualität
wirksamer Unterricht
Student Reports
Classroom Management
Teacher Support
Student Perspective
Classroom Interactions
Teaching Quality
Teacher Effectiveness
Instructional Quality
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Dissertation ist gesperrt bis 11.03.2024 !


How to promote adolescent students’ learning and socio-emotional functioning in secondary school is a central question in empirical educational research. Hence, a large body of research has examined which specific factors and processes within the complex school context are most important for predicting students’ learning and socio-emotional functioning (Eccles & Roeser, 2011). Overall, research highlights the important role of the classroom environment and processes that happen therein. Specifically, the quality of teaching provided by the teacher is one of the most central characteristics that affect students’ experience of their classroom (e.g., Wang et al., 1993; Hattie, 2009). However, empirical research tends to treat teaching quality as a rather “static” factor within the classroom (Way et al., 2007) and little is known about dynamics that operate over time and between the teacher and the specific students in the classroom. For example, lower secondary school coincides with early adolescence, during which students experience critical developmental processes (Eccles & Midgley, 1989; Eccles et al, 1993). Furthermore, high-quality teaching is defined and established within the classroom context, which is in turn shaped by the teacher and the specific students being taught (Doyle, 2007). The overarching aim of the present dissertation was to explore the dynamic and contextual nature of teaching quality. With respect to the dynamic nature of teaching quality, the present dissertation examined changes in teaching quality over time and its associations with students’ learning and socio-emotional functioning from a longitudinal perspective. To illuminate the contextual nature of teaching quality, the present dissertation explored the extent to which the specific students in the classroom contribute to teaching quality via their background characteristics and their own agentic behavior (i.e., disruptive behavior) in the classroom. A subordinate aim of the present dissertation concerned the assessment of teaching quality via student reports. Student reports provide unique insight into what happens in the classroom, but are suspected of being affected by factors unrelated to teaching quality (Lüdtke et al., 2009). Therefore, the present dissertation began with an examination of whether students at different grade levels are able to report on teaching quality in a reliable and valid way. Study 1 (Ask me, I (Dis)agree! Acquiescence in Student Ratings of Teaching Quality in German Vocational Schools) examined the extent to which student reports on teaching quality provided by students at different grade levels are affected by an acquiescent response style (acquiescence: “yay-saying”, dis-acquiescence: “nay-saying”) while additionally controlling for an extreme response style. Using a large cross-sectional sample of n = 2,234 fifth-grade and n = 1,832 eighth-grade students from vocational-track schools in Germany, Study 1 a) investigated the degree to which acquiescence differs at the student and at the classroom level and b) evaluated the impact of acquiescence on the psychometric properties of teaching quality reports by systematically comparing factor means and factor inter-correlations before and after statistically controlling for acquiescence. The results of Study 1 suggest acquiescence was not counterbalanced at the classroom level. In addition to that, acquiescence and extreme responding primarily affected reports provided by younger students (i.e., fifth grade) and when negatively worded items were used. Nonetheless, acquiescence affected the psychometric properties of student data on teaching quality to only a minor degree, which can be considered largely unproblematic for practical use. Overall, the results support students’ ability to provide valid and reliable information on teaching quality. Study 2 (Student Development in Early Adolescence: Does Teaching Quality Shape Students’ Academic Achievement, Academic Engagement, and Their Social and Emotional School Adjustment?) addressed the dynamic nature of teaching quality by longitudinally linking the trajectories of multiple aspects of teaching quality to the trajectories of students’ development (i.e., academic achievement, academic engagement and their social and emotional school adjustment). In this study, teaching quality was assessed from both the student and teacher perspectives. To this end, groups of students forming specific school classes and their homeroom teachers were followed over three years of lower secondary school (i.e., fifth to eighth grade). The pooled sample consisted of N = 3,880 students and N = 126 homeroom teachers from German vocational-track schools. The results showed that students and their homeroom teachers reported negative changes in teaching quality across lower secondary school. Moreover, teaching quality buffered the downward trend in most aspects of students’ academic engagement and promoted students’ academic achievement at the classroom level. In contrast, students’ individual perceptions of teaching quality (i.e., student level) were most important for their social and emotional school adjustment, indicating that students’ social and emotional school adjustment during adolescence is heavily driven by individual processes. Overall, the revealed associations were more pronounced when examining student reports of teaching quality compared to teacher self-reports. The results highlight that teaching is variable over time and underscore the important role of teachers in fostering young adolescent students’ development. Study 3 (Classroom Management: Can it be too Much of a Good Thing?) focused on the contextual nature of teaching quality. Using classroom management as an example, the study examined the extent to which the specific students in the classroom contribute to the classroom management progress through a) their background characteristics and b) their own agentic behavior (i.e., disruptive behavior). To this end, the study examined key aspects of classroom management referring either to students’ actions (i.e., disruptive behavior), or teachers’ actions (i.e., monitoring, structure, clarity of instruction). Study 3 used data from two independent large-scale data sets. The first data set consistent of N1 = 4,645 German tenth-grade students enrolled in the academic or intermediate school tracks. The second data set consisted of N2 = 6,298 German students from Grades 6 to 10 enrolled in either academic-track or in different types of vocational-track schools. Overall, the results suggested that the specific students in the classroom significantly contribute to the classroom management process. Across both data sets, classroom management measures referring to students’ behavior in the classroom (i.e., disruptive behavior) were more closely related to students’ background characteristics than measures referring to teacher actions were. Moreover, after accounting for the average level of disturbances in the classroom, both students’ disruptive behavior and teachers’ monitoring activity were negatively associated with students’ pre-adjusted math achievement. This finding suggests that students’ disruptive behavior in the classroom contributes to the association between teachers’ management actions and students’ academic achievement. In the end, the findings of the three empirical studies are summarized and discussed in light of their contributions to empirical educational research. Moreover, theoretical and practical implications for educational research and practice are derived. From a theoretical perspective, the findings of the present dissertation are highly relevant for conceptualizing and measuring teaching quality in educational research. From a practical perspective, the findings of the present dissertation contribute to the discussion on assessing teaching quality via student reports and underscore the critical role of teachers for students’ long-term academic development, and their social and emotional school adjustment.

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