New study finds teacher recruits rate well against more experienced peers

4th September 2020

New research has found teachers with less than four years’ experience manage as well as those working with more than five years in the job.

The study, published in Teaching and Teacher Education and led by QUT Professor Linda Graham, involved 80 Queensland primary school teachers from Prep to Grade Three.

Key points: -

  • There were 25 teachers in the 0-3 years’ experience group, 11 teachers in the 4-5 year group and 44 teachers in the more than five years’ group.
  •  An internationally validated  tool CLASS – Classroom Assessment Scoring System was used to rate the quality of teaching.
  •  Indicators of quality included factors like classroom climate, behaviour management, productivity and feedback.
  •  Beginning teachers and teachers with more than five years of experience scored higher than the 4-5 year group on some dimensions of the CLASS.
  •  Findings show beginning teachers are doing as well or better than teachers with more years’ experience and suggest a post-3 year decline in the quality of teaching for a small number of teachers.

Professor Graham said Australian universities were under pressure to produce “classroom ready” graduates and reforms had been made to teacher education to improve “teacher quality” without any evidence that graduates were less competent than more experienced teachers.

“Beginning teachers are often treated as ‘the problem’ which affects student engagement, achievement and behaviour,” Professor Graham said.

“This study found no significant difference in the quality of teaching between beginning teachers and teachers with many more years’ experience.”

The results were drawn from teachers employed in schools from low socio-economic areas.

Professor Graham said the study revealed evidence of a decline in the quality of teaching after the first three years for some teachers but the reasons for that required further investigation.

She also said the research showed behaviour management was among the highest scoring dimension for experienced teachers and second highest score for both beginning and transitioning teachers.

“This finding suggests that calls for more professional development in behaviour management may be misdirected and is unlikely, by itself, to improve the overall quality of teaching,” Dr Graham said.

She said the findings suggested that placing emphasis on the accreditation, content, and availability of high-quality mentoring and ongoing professional learning for all teachers was appropriate methods to boost teacher quality.

Professor Graham’s expertise includes research to improve methods of teaching for children who are difficult to teach.

The research was co-authored by QUT’s Associate Professor Sonia White, Macquarie University’s Dr Kathy Cologon and Professor Robert Pianta of the University of Virginia.

The open access journal article is also available via pdf.

MEDIA CONTACT: Debra Nowland, QUT Media, and after house 0407 585 901.


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