ERIC Identifier: ED278658
Publication Date: 1986-00-00
Author: Barrett, Joan
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Teacher Education Washington DC.
Evaluation of Student Teachers. ERIC Digest 13.
Public criticism of teachers has put pressure on teacher educators to
prepare their students better. Any process to strengthen teacher education
programs must include a careful study of student teaching since it is usually
the final education course taken by students and the most influential field
experience in a teacher education program (Kingen 1984). Many teacher education
programs use student teaching as the primary exit evaluation of student
competencies (Ashburn and Fisher 1984). Yet factors such as questionable
measurement instruments and untrained evaluators prevent effective evaluation.
This digest discusses the purpose of student teacher evaluation, criteria,
measurement tools, evaluators, and elements of success.
PURPOSE OF STUDENT TEACHER EVALUATION
There are numerous reasons for evaluating student teachers during their
practice-teaching experience in a K-12 setting (Defino 1983). Programs usually
state the purposes as screening students for entry into the teaching profession
and informing student teachers about skills that need to be strengthened. Often,
evaluation is used to prove to state or national program approval agencies that
student teachers are doing what the institution said they would during the field
Evaluating students for program improvement is another purpose (Ashburn and
Fisher 1984). For example, a teacher education program may require student
teachers to demonstrate the ability to plan instructional units. If evaluation
shows that most student teachers have problems in planning, then an adjustment
can be made in the program.
Disagreement occurs among programs about what knowledge, skills, and
attitudes are necessary in an effective student teacher (Ashburn and Fisher
1984). Research on teacher effectiveness has included attempts to identify
"good" teacher characteristics. The belief that effective teachers possess
universal traits is so strong that characteristics such as voice quality and
sense of humor have become permanent items on student teacher evaluation scales.
But no research has shown effective teachers to have specific characteristics in
all teaching situations (Fant and others, 1985).
Research also has been done to relate effectiveness to degree of pupil
learning. Wiersma and Gibney (1985) argue that the research base in this area is
inadequate to support pupil learning as the sole basis for determining student
teacher competence. They also contend that teaching is a profession like
medicine and law; thus, practitioners cannot guarantee results.
Competency based teacher education (CBTE) programs that emerged in the 1970s
consider student teaching performance to be a demonstration of competencies
accumulated during the teacher education program. Thus, student teachers are
observed in the classroom and evaluated on the basis of competencies such as
subject matter presentation and planning skills. While there is a lack of
evidence that one set of teacher competencies leads to more pupil learning than
another (Moore and Markham 1983), competencies assessed by programs overlap
Institutions that use the same evaluation criteria often have different
priorities (McIntyre and Norris 1980). For example, one teacher education
program may consider classroom management the most important area to be
evaluated while another may place the highest priority on personal
characteristics and personality.
Teacher education programs tend to develop their own evaluation forms to
determine student teacher effectiveness. In a survey of 178 U.S. colleges and
universities, Fant and others (1985) found teacher education programs used
rating scales, daily logs, anecdotal records, behavior coding, and
self-assessment for evaluating student teachers. More than half of the
institutions surveyed used rating scales.
Two instruments used frequently in student teacher evaluation research have
been adopted by some CBTE programs (Defino 1983). The Teacher Performance
Assessment Instrument (TPAI) lists competency indicators and sets of
descriptors. The evaluator decides how well the student teacher's performance
meets the competency described. The Classroom Observation Keyed for Research
(COKER) instrument requires the evaluator to record specified behavior
demonstrated by the student teacher. Research shows these instruments to be
reliable, i.e., the scores of an individual remain relatively consistent on
repeated measurements. Validity, i.e., whether the instruments measure what they
are supposed to, remains questionable, however (Defino 1983).
Research indicates that student teaching grades usually are high regardless
of the evaluation instrument used. Inflated grades may be because of improved
field experiences before student teaching (Defino 1983). In addition, many
incompetent or marginal students elect or are counseled out of teacher education
programs. The high grades could reflect an evaluation of the student teachers'
potential rather than a measure of demonstrated skills. Other reasons, however,
stem from the evaluators who judge student teaching.
The effectiveness of the evaluation process is based on the person assessing
the students (Ashburn and Fisher 1984). A faculty supervisor from the teacher
education program and a "cooperating" teacher in whose classroom the student
teacher is assigned serve as evaluators of student teaching. Research on the
interaction of student teacher, cooperating teacher, and faculty supervisor
indicates the cooperating teacher has the predominant influence on the student.
Student teachers often adopt the classroom management style and attitudes of
their cooperating teachers (McIntyre 1984). Thus, it is not surprising that
cooperating teachers tend to give positive evaluations to these students.
Cooperating teachers avoid "unsatisfactory" and "below satisfactory" ratings
when using typical evaluation forms with ratings ranging from a strongly
agree/highly positive assessment to a strongly disagree/highly negative
assessment (Phelps and others 1986). The teachers seem to concentrate on one
skill that a student teacher demonstrates effectively and then generalize to all
skills. For example, a student teacher highly competent in instructional
procedures might have an inadequate knowledge base in the subject being taught.
The cooperating teacher still would rank the student highly in all areas because
of the strong, positive impression made when interacting with pupils.
Faculty supervisors also have difficulties when evaluating student teachers
since the supervisors "serve as coaches as well as judges. Very often we find
ourselves judging the coaching." (Ashburn and Fisher 1984). Evaluation reports
containing supervisor and cooperating teacher comments become part of the
student teacher's permanent record and can affect employment opportunities.
Comparisons between superior and average student teachers cannot be made when
reading the reports because of grade inflation.
The lack of consistent procedures and criteria among cooperating teachers
further hinders the evaluation process and can cause the student teaching
experience to have a negative impact on teacher education program goals (Ervay
1982). Teacher education programs must rely on public schools to find the
cooperating teachers. Forty-four states, however, require no formal
credentialing process for cooperating teachers, and public school personnel
usually select cooperating teachers based only on teaching experience (Morris
and others 1985).
ELEMENTS OF SUCCESS
Many evaluation tools used throughout the United States have adequate
reliability (Defino 1983). Validity, however, often has not been established.
Training cooperating teachers to use evaluation instruments reduces judgment
errors, however, and can increase the tool's validity (Phelps and others 1986).
Evaluation instruments continue to be refined through research. For example,
South Carolina recently developed the Assessment of Performance in Teaching
(APT) instrument after field study tests for objectivity, reliability, and
validity (Brooks and others 1985). The APT measures minimal competency rather
than proficiency. It only determines whether teachers use basic teaching skills
in the classroom. Any educator who uses the APT must successfully complete
Additional training in supervision practices also ensures that cooperating
teachers are competent in other areas (Morris and others 1985). Good cooperating
teachers must be able to analyze, guide, and evaluate teaching as well as
demonstrate effective teaching (Kingen 1984). These abilities and adequate
measurement instruments lead to improvement in evaluating student teachers.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Ashburn, E.A. and R.L. Fisher, eds. "Methods of Assessing Teacher Education
Students." ISU-AACTE Conference Proceedings, Normal, Illinois, July 1984. ED 255
Brooks, A. and others. TESTING FOR STUDENT TEACHING COMPETENCE AND ITS
IMPLICATIONS. 1985. ED 254 515.
Defino, M.E. THE EVALUATION OF STUDENT TEACHERS. 1983. ED 240 103.
Ervay, Stuart. A STUDY OF COOPERATING TEACHER BEHAVIORS WHICH ARE COMPATIBLE
WITH ESTABLISHED GOALS OF TEACHER EDUCATION. 1982. ED 242 683.
Fant, H.E., C. Hill, A.M. Lee, and R. Landes. "Evaluating Student Teachers:
The National Scene." THE TEACHER EDUCATOR 21(2) l985: 2-8.
Kingen, S. "Does the Left Hand Really Know What the Right Hand Is Doing? An
Informal Look at the Selection and Evaluation of Cooperating Teachers." THE
TEACHER EDUCATOR 20(1) 1984: 2-13.
McIntyre, D.J. "A Response to the Critics of Field Experience Supervision."
JOURNAL OF TEACHER EDUCATION 35(3) 1984: 42-45.
McIntyre, D.J. and W.R. Norris. "The State of the Art of Preservice Teacher
Education Programs and Supervision of Field Experiences." ACTION IN TEACHER
EDUCATION 2(3) 1980: 67-69.
Moore, K.D. and J.S. Markham. "A Competency Model for the Evaluation of
Teacher Education Program Graduates." THE TEACHER EDUCATOR 19(1) 1983: 20-31.
Morris, J.E., S.K. Pannell, and W.R. Houston. "Certification of Supervising
Teachers: A Process for Improving Teacher Effectiveness." THE TEACHER EDUCATOR
20(3) 1985: 7-15.
Phelps, L., C.D. Schmitz, and B. Boatright. "The Effects of Halo and Leniency
on Cooperating Teacher Reports Using Likert-Type Rating Scales." JOURNAL OF
EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH 79(3) l986: 151-154.
Wiersma, W. and T. Gibney. "Observation as an Approach to Measuring Teacher
Competency." ACTION IN TEACHER EDUCATION 7(1-2) 1985): 59-67.