Characteristics of Effective English Language Teachers: The Perspectives of Bangkok University Students Saovapa Wichadee
ABSTRACT The paper presents a research study that aimed to investigate the characteristics of effective English language teachers based on four categories: English proficiency, pedagogical knowledge, organization and communication skills, and socio-affective skills perceived by students at Bangkok University and to compare the characteristics of effective English language teachers viewed by different groups of students e.g. groups with different genders, English courses taken, fields of study, and levels of English proficiency. The data were collected through a five-point rating scale questionnaire with 400 students. The quantitative findings revealed that the students placed an importance on overall characteristics at a high level with the highest ranking to organization and communication skills. Differences were found statistically significant at p< 0.05 in their perceptions in terms of courses taken and levels of English proficiency. However, the male students did not significantly demonstrate different characteristics from the female students. Moreover, there was no statistically significant difference found in the students’ perceptions on characteristics of effective teachers in terms of their fields of study at p< 0.05. From the interview information, it was found that both low and high proficient students considered “being well-prepared” the most important characteristic for effective teachers. Also, apart from the content in the text, they wanted their teachers to provide many more activities or exercises in order to help improve their learning.
บทคัดยอ บทความนี้นําเสนอการวิจัยซึ่งมีวัตถุประสงคเพื่อศึกษาคุณลักษณะของอาจารยผูสอนภาษาอังกฤษ ที่มีประสิทธิภาพใน 4 ดาน คือ ดานความสามารถในการใชภาษาอังกฤษของอาจารย ดานทักษะการสอน ดานทักษะการจัดการและการสื่อสาร รวมทั้งดานการมีปฏิสัมพันธทางสังคมกับผูเรียนในมุมมองของ นักศึกษามหาวิทยาลัยกรุงเทพที่เรียนวิชาภาษาอังกฤษพื้นฐานทั้ง 4 วิชา คือ EN111, EN112, EN211 และ EN212 ในภาคเรียนที่ 1 ปการศึกษา 2551 และเปรียบเทียบความคิดเห็นของนักศึกษาเรื่องคุณลักษณะ ของอาจารยที่มีประสิทธิภาพโดยจําแนกตามเพศ วิชาภาษาอังกฤษที่เรียน สาขาวิชาที่ศึกษา และระดับ ความสามารถทางภาษาอังกฤษ ผูวิจัยไดเก็บขอมูลจากแบบสอบถามมาตราสวนประมาณคาแบบ 5 ระดับ กับนักศึกษาจํานวน 400 คน และใชแบบสัมภาษณกึ่งโครงรางในการสัมภาษณนักศึกษาจํานวน 20 คน ผลการวิจัยแสดงใหเห็นวานั กศึกษามหาวิทยาลัยกรุงเทพใหความสําคัญกับคุณลักษณะของอาจารย ผูสอนที่มีประสิทธิภาพโดยรวมอยูในระดับสูง โดยไดใหความสําคัญกับดานการจัดการและการสื่อสาร เปนลําดับแรก นอกจากนี้พบวา นักศึกษาที่เรียนวิชาตางกันหรือมีระดับความสามารถดานภาษาอังกฤษ ตางกันมีมุมมองในเรื่องคุณลักษณะของอาจารยผูสอนที่มีประสิท ธิภาพตางกันอยางมีนัยสําคัญทาง สถิติที่ระดับ 0.05 อยางไรก็ตาม นักศึกษาชายและหญิง รวมทั้งนักศึกษาที่มีสาขาเรียนตางกันมีความ คิดเห็นเรื่องคุณลักษณะของอาจารยผูสอนที่มีประสิทธิภาพไมตางกันอยางมีนัยสําคัญทางสถิติที่ระดับ 0.05 และจากขอมูลการสัมภาษณ พบวา นักศึกษาทั้งกลุมออนและเกงภาษาอังกฤษตางมีความเห็นวา การเตรียมตัวอยางดีกอนมาสอนเปนคุณสมบัติที่สําคัญที่สุดของอาจารย และตองการใหอาจารยเตรียม กิจกรรมหรือแบบฝกหัดใหมากขึ้นเพื่อชวยพัฒนาการเรียนรูของนักศึกษา
INTRODUCTION The teacher is one of the factors that has a lot of influence on student achievement. An ineffective teacher places students at an extreme disadvantage due to poor instruction. According to Adams & Pierce (1999), having many years of experience doesn’t guarantee expert teaching; experience is useful only when the teacher continually engages in self-reflection and modifies classroom techniques to better serve the needs of students. Teachers must prepare to teach a wide range of students in terms of interest, motivation and ability, some of whom may need additional assistance and these behavioral characteristics are said to have effects on the students in learning English. However, apart from good teaching skills that teachers need to have, personal traits are also equally important because they also play a vital role in the success of learning as stated by Thompson (2008) that building and maintaining relationships in classrooms is necessary. And to build relationships, teachers need to be able to build rapport and foster an environment that encourages questions, negotiation and processing, and ultimately, autonomy, rather than an over-dependence on teachers. In order for this to occur, teachers should be well-planned, creative and patient with the learners they are working.” As the teacher factor matters to students’ learning, a number of researchers examined the characteristics of effective teachers. (Lowman, 1996, Koutsoulis, 2003, Park & Lee, 2006). Investigating what characteristics are considered effective is beneficial to teachers in terms of understanding what their students expect from them. Moreover, for Bangkok University students, perceptions of this matter have never been assessed before. With these reasons, the researcher would like to sort out what an “effective teacher” truly is in their opinions in order to bring about improvements as aforementioned. Knowing the students’ needs and trying to be accepted by them might help create an emotionally positive and academically productive atmosphere in the classroom. OBJECTIVES OF THE RESEARCH 1. to examine the teachers’ characteristics which Bangkok University students consider as important in order to define effective language teachers in a specific cultural setting; and 2. to compare the perceptions on characteristics of effective English language teachers among Bangkok University students with different background, i.e. genders, courses taken, fields of study, and levels of English proficiency. RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS The research hypotheses can be derived as follows: Hypothesis 1: Students with different genders hold different views on characteristics of effective teachers.
Hypothesis 2: Students from different study fields exhibit different perceptions of characteristics of effective teachers. Hypothesis 3: Students taking different English courses (EN111, 112, 211, and 212) have different perceptions of characteristics of effective teachers. Hypothesis 4: Students with different levels of English proficiency perceive characteristics of effective teachers differently. LITERATURE REVIEW 1. Definition of Effective Teachers An effective teacher has been defined as “the one who conducts effective teaching which produces beneficial and purposeful student learning through the use of appropriate procedures.” (Diamond; 1998 cited in National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 2008). Additionally, Kyriakides, Campbell, and Christofidou (2002) point out that effective teachers need to possess adequate quantity of instruction, organize and manage the classroom environment, effectively use instructional time, structure instructional materials, give students practice and application opportunities, provide good classroom climate, and have enough subject knowledge, knowledge of pedagogy, teaching beliefs, and teachers’ self-efficacy. Neil (1991) states that defining an effective teacher involves two important components in teaching and learning process called “teacher knowledge of the subject to be taught” and “skill in how to teach that subject.” It is intuitively obvious that effective teachers must possess a professional knowledge base and exhibit knowledge of the subject matter. Successful teachers have a lot of instructional strategies and techniques that reflect their knowledge of the subject. He also indicates that because learning is a voluntary activity, the teacher’s job to “sell” ideas to the students is very hard if he or she cannot “sell” those ideas in an interesting way. Therefore, when the teacher shows enthusiasm about her topic, she persuades the students that the topic is important. From the above definitions, an effective teacher displays a wide range of skills and abilities that lead to creating a learning environment where all students feel comfortable and are sure that they can succeed both academically and personally. An effective language teacher is not characterized merely by the factors of knowledge or teaching skills, but also the communication skills and the relationships the teacher has with students. 2. Qualities of Effective Teachers Lowman (1997) describes two main dimensions of effective college teaching that come up in his study. According to his model, teaching effectiveness is a product of two distinct dimensions. The first is the instructor’s ability to stimulate intellectual excitement in the classroom. Fundamental to this ability is the clarity of lectures and their emotional
impact on students, as well as the instructor’s knowledge, organization and flexibility. The teacher has to provide students with intellectual excitement (enthusiasm, knowledge, inspiration, humor, interesting viewpoint, clarity, organization). Perhaps equally significant in terms of teacher effectiveness is the use of psychology in the classroom. It is related to interpersonal concern/ effective motivation such as concern, caring, availability, friendliness, accessibility, helpfulness, encouragement, and challenge. An effective teacher is the one who promotes positive student emotions by fostering critical thinking and creativity, showing sensitivity to students’ feelings about the course material, and promoting an atmosphere of respect. In addition to that, Clark (1995) presents many qualities of effective teachers he got from his research using student evaluations, trained observers in classrooms, verbal reports by teachers and students, and the training of teachers in specific teaching skills. First, effective teachers should communicate their own knowledge and appreciation of the subject matter to make students feel that they have learned something valuable, and that the course has contributed to their knowledge, awareness, and intellectual curiosity. Students should also be intellectually challenged and stimulated to think for themselves, and have opportunities to develop competencies characteristic of the discipline. Second, effective teachers should carefully plan and organize the lesson in a coherent manner. The next quality related to cognitive aspects of effective teaching involves techniques that are used to explain concepts and principles clearly, so that students understand the individual thoughts and ideas being presented. Another quality that contributes substantially to the achievement of cognitive learning concerns voice and other characteristics associated with the quality of presentation by a teacher (e.g., speaking in a clear, way being well-paced, having an expressive manner, and using appropriate teaching aids effectively). Additionally, effective teachers behave in ways that promote agreeable and friendly interpersonal relations between themselves and students, and that convey concern and respect for individual students. To sum up, the factors that contribute to effective teaching in general include: (a) teaching preparation and procedures; (b) classroom management; (c) knowledge of subject or academic preparation, (d) communication, and (e) personal characteristics. 3. Characteristics of Effective Language Teachers Although there seem to be universal general principles of effective teaching used to specify an effective teacher, the foreign and second language teaching presents learning objectives, tasks, and environments that are qualitatively distinct from those of other subjects. So, when defining the term “characteristics of effective language teacher,” it’s
necessary to take this context into consideration. To illustrate this, there is a comparative study conducted by Borg (2006) examining ways in which language teachers are seen to be different to teachers of other subjects. This study investigates actual classroom practices of language teaching and other subjects and comes up with some factors. The factors that distinguish the experience of foreign language teachers from that of teachers of other subjects include the following: 1) The nature of the subject matter itself. 2) The interaction patterns necessary to provide instruction. 3) The challenge for teachers of increasing their knowledge of the subject. Language teachers teach communication, not facts. 4) The need for outside support for learning the subject. (Borg, 2006, pp. 11-13) Additionally, Brosh (1996, cited in Borg, 2006) identifies the desirable characteristics of the effective language teachers as perceived by foreign language teachers and students in Israel. The followings are characteristics emerged overall as those felt to the most desirable in the study: 1) knowledge and command of the target language 2) ability to recognize, explain and clarify, as well as to arouse and sustain interest and motivation among students 3) fairness to students by showing neither favoritism nor prejudice 4) availability to students. The aforementioned information is similar to the findings that Thompson (2008) presents in her research paper. She proposes two components of personal characteristics and teaching skills, explaining that good teachers build rapport by caring about their learners, demonstrating patience and respecting the learners. They were well-planned, able to select appropriated frameworks for their lessons and design interesting tasks. The belief that the teacher should be friendly with the students in order to get their commitment to participate in the learning procedure exists in all levels of school. 4. Research Concerning Characteristics of Effective Teachers Suwandee (1994) studied students’ perceptions of university instructors’ effective teaching characteristics. The purpose of the study was threefold: (1) to provide university instructors in Thailand with a greater understanding of students’ perceptions of what characteristics are important in college and university teaching, (2) to identify effective teaching characteristics which promote learning, and (3) to identify factors influencing students’ perceptions of effective teaching. The subjects for the study were 505 science students at the Faculty of Science, Mahidol University. The survey instrument used in this study was developed from 17 studies found in the literature on the area of teaching effectiveness. The questionnaire asked the students to rate 39 teaching characteristics, which made up six teaching components, according to their importance in contributing to effective teaching. This investigation yielded the following results: (1) The teaching characteristics listed in order of importance by
students are having a good knowledge of his/her subject, making difficult topics easy to understand, willing to help students in and out of the classroom, being well-prepared for class, explaining clearly. The teaching components listed in order of importance by students are preparation/ organization/ clarity, examination/grading, enthusiasm/ stimulation, knowledge, instructor-individual student interaction, and instructor-group interaction. (2) Students’ gender significantly affected their perceptions of valued teaching characteristics in two components: Knowledge and Instructor-Group Interaction. Male students placed higher importance on Knowledge and Instructor-Group Interaction than female students did. (3) Students’ academic status significantly affected their perceptions of valued teaching characteristics in the Instructor-Group interaction component. Freshmen placed less importance on Knowledge, Instructor-Group Interaction, and InstructorIndividual Student Interaction than senior students did. Meepiarn (1995) explored 480 Thai police cadets’ perceptions of effective teaching characteristics of instructors in The Royal Thai Police Cadet Academy (RTPCA). The questionnaire in this study requested students to rate 50 teaching characteristics composed of nine teaching components related to their importance in providing effective teaching. The findings revealed the following: (1) The effective teaching characteristics ranked by importance to Thai police cadets were: explains clearly, stresses important materials, has a good knowledge of his/her subject, summarizes major points, and is friendly towards students. The effective teaching characteristics components were ranked of importance by Thai police cadets as the following: Preparation/Organization, Clarity, Knowledge, Communication Skills, Enthusiasm/Stimulation, Teaching Strategies, Instructor-Individual Student Interaction, Classroom Environment, Instructor-Group Interaction, and Examination/ Grading. (2) Thai police cadet’s classification significantly influenced their perceptions of effective teaching characteristics in only the “Knowledge” component. Thai police cadet group-I (from precadet school) placed higher importance on the “Knowledge” component than those of group-2 (from non commissioned police officers). (3) Thai police cadets’ academic status significantly influenced their perceptions of valuable effective teaching characteristics in seven components, namely: Preparation/Organization/Clarity, Knowledge, InstructorGroup Interaction, Enthusiasm/ Stimulation, Classroom Environment, Teaching Strategies, and Instructor-Individual Student Interaction. Freshmen police cadets placed more importance on all these teaching characteristics components than did senior police cadets. (4) Thai police cadets’ GPA did not significantly influence their perceptions of effective teaching characteristics.
Koutsoulis (2003) investigated the teacher characteristics that students considered important in defining teacher effectiveness, focusing on human characteristics, communication skills, and teaching and production characteristics. Students from 25 high schools in Cyprus completed the Classroom Culture Description questionnaire. Overall, students listed 94 different characteristics of effective teachers. The most commonly listed human characteristic was the ability to show understanding, followed by teacher friendliness. The most frequently noted communication characteristic was the ability to communicate effectively with students and to handle teacher-student relations. This was followed by effective classroom management. Regarding teaching ability, most students wanted lessons to be interesting and motivating. Students at different achievement levels understood teacher effectiveness differently. Students with the lowest achievement focused more on human characteristics and teaching skills and less on communication skills. High achievers wanted their teachers to be knowledgeable and clever and not to spend time on comments about students’ behavior. Also, there was another study done by Park & Lee, 2006, investigating the characteristics of effective English teachers as perceived by 169 teachers and 339 students in high school in Korea, with a self-report questionnaire consisting of three categories: English proficiency, pedagogical knowledge, and socio-affective skills. Overall, the teachers perceived significantly different characteristics than the students in all three categories with the teachers ranking English proficiency the highest in contrast to the students who ranked pedagogical knowledge the highest. The student subgroups also held different perceptions of effective teaching. High achieving students reported different characteristics than low achieving students in pedagogical knowledge and socio-affective skills, whereas the male students demonstrated different characteristics from the female students in socio-affective skills. The findings have implications for knowledge-based teacher education for current and prospective English teachers. The framework of this study was created based on Park & Lee research which presented three main categories of characteristics of effective teachers: English proficiency, pedagogical knowledge, and socio-affective skills. However, from the literature review, the researcher found that organization and communication skills were also important as they were employed in Koutsoulis’s and Meepiarn’s studies. As a result, this study came up with an investigation of the students’ perception on the characteristics of effective teachers which include four categories: (1) English proficiency, (2) pedagogical knowledge, (3) organization & communication skills, and (4) socio-affective skills. The figure below illustrates the framework of this study.
Figure 1: Research Framework students’ background - genders - fields of study - courses taken - levels of English proficiency
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 1. Population and Samples The population of this study was 9,322 undergraduate students enrolling in General English courses (EN 111, EN 112, EN 211 and EN 212) in the first semester of academic year 2008 at Bangkok University. All of them were from nine faculties (Communication Art, Fine and Applied Arts, Law, Engineering, Humanities, Science and Technology, Accounting, Business Administration, and Economics). The samples in this study were 400 undergraduate students enrolling in General English courses in the first semester of academic year 2008 got from Stratified Random Sampling technique. The sample size was estimated based on Taro Yamane table using 95% of confidence level was used with a precision rate of ±5%. When the population is 9,322 the samples should be at least 400. 2. Research Instruments 2.1 A Questionnaire The questionnaire consisted of two parts. The first part was about the respondent’s background information. It inquired about gender, English course taken, faculty, and English proficiency level. The second part investigated what students perceived as an effective English language teacher. Adapted from the concept proposed by Park & Lee (2006), this part asked the students to indicate how much they think a particular characteristic was important in relation to effective teachers. There were four categories of characteristics including English proficiency, pedagogical knowledge, organization & communication skills, and socio-affective skills. The 33 items in four categories were in the form of 5point rating scale ranging from “the most important” to “not important at all” for the students to check. The researcher generated items based on three categories contributing to effective English teachers in Park & Lee’s questionnaire including English proficiency, pedagogical knowledge, and socio-affective skills as these items appeared to be the most relevant to the Thai context. However, after reviewing the literature one category namely
perceptions on effective teachers - English proficiency - pedagogical knowledge - organization & communication skills - socio-affective skills
“organization & communication skills” was added producing a total of 34 items. Then, the draft of the questionnaire was examined by three experts specialized in TEFL. They were asked to check translation from English into Thai and rate the relevance of each item to its category by means of IOC: Index of item objective congruence with the score of +1, 0, -1 assessment. Then the scores were taken to calculate for its value in the form of
IOC , IC =
. (Carmines & Zeller, 1991) To
ensure validity, the items containing IOC value from 0.50 to 1.00 were acceptable. At the end, one item was dropped according to its low value and the recommendation of the experts, producing a total of 33 items for the pilot study. The questionnaire was piloted with 40 undergraduate students during the first semester of academic year 2007 at Bangkok University and calculated for proper reliability by using Cronbach’s Alpha Coefficients of which the values of four categories were .95, .79, .86 .and 78. 2.2 A Semi-structured Interview The interview was conducted to elicit further information about characteristics of effective language teachers and how these characteristics affected the students’ learning. The draft questions prepared for an interview were checked by three specialists, corrected, and adjusted after a pilot test with six students for better understanding. The interview contained five questions as follows: 1. In your opinion, what qualification should an effective language teacher have? 2. What should an effective English language teacher do in his/her teaching process? 3. Is the teacher a part of your motivation for coming to class? Explain why or why not? 4. If you get an F or very bad grade in English, do you think it’s because of your teacher? Explain why or why not. 5. In your English class, what performance the teacher does can contribute to learning and what performance is an obstacle to learning?
3. Data Collection The questionnaires were collected from 400 undergraduate students at Bangkok University in the first semester of academic year 2008. The researcher got the samples of all faculties through the student lists appearing in the BU Intranet. All questionnaires were given to the samples and taken back by the researcher with the cooperation of the English teachers responsible in each class. It took about two months for data collection of all questionnaires. For a semi-structured interview, the researcher interviewed 20 students from nine faculties. (four from each field of study) In each field, four students: two students were not good at English and the other two were students with high proficiency of English were
chosen to do the interview. They were individually interviewed for about half an hour and allowed to respond flexibly to five questions. The interview was conducted in Thai and recorded by a tape recorder. 4. Data Analysis 4.1 For quantitative data, after the questionnaires were collected, the data were statistically analyzed by SPSS/Window program using Independent-Samples t-tests and One-Way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). The acceptable statistical significance level was set at alpha (α) < 0.05. 4.2 The information from the semi-structured interview was manually grouped and ranked due to its frequency in a table form.
RESEARCH RESULTS Research Question 1: What are effective English language teachers like in the eyes of Bangkok University students? This question examined characteristics of effective English language teachers. The data were grouped in four categories and presented in order of importance. Table 1 Mean and Standard Deviation of Students’ Perceptions Shown in Four Categories Category 1. English Proficiency 2. Pedagogical Knowledge 3. Organization & Communication Skills 4. Socio-Affective Skills Total The results shown in Table 1 indicated that the overall mean score of students’ perception on characteristics of effective teachers was at a high level. ( Χ = 4.17). When considering all categories, it was found that the four categories of characteristics were also at a high level. Among the four categories, the mean scores could be arranged in order of
4.08 4.09 4.32 4.24 4.17
0.89 0.50 0.52 0.61 0.49
Level of Importance high high high high high
Rank 4 3 1 2
importance as follows: organization and communication skills ( Χ = 4.32), socio-affective skills ( Χ = 4.24), pedagogical knowledge ( Χ = 4.09), and English proficiency ( Χ = 4.08).
Research Question 2: Are there any differences in the students’ perceptions toward characteristics of effective English language teachers among BU students with different background? (e.g. genders, fields of study, courses, and levels of English proficiency) This question examined whether there were any differences in students’ perceptions among groups. Table 2 A Comparison of Mean Scores of Students’ Perceptions Classified by Genders Characteristics 1. English Proficiency 2. Pedagogical Knowledge 3. Organization and Communication Skills 4. Socio-Affective Skills Total
Variable genders male female genders male female genders male female genders male female genders male female
n 139 261 139 261 139 261 139 261 139 261
Χ 4.09 4.07 4.07 4.10 4.31 4.33 4.22 4.24 4.16 4.18
S.D. 0.91 0.88 0.51 0.49 0.50 0.53 0.61 0.61 .48 .50
df 398 274.12 398 271.22 398 294.13 398 279.81 398 288.97
t .26 -.65 -.37 -.39 -.39
Hypothesis 1 proposed that students with different genders held different views on characteristics of effective teachers. Therefore, the t-test was employed to examine a significant difference between male and female students on their perceptions. This hypothesis was rejected because there .
was no statistically significant difference found in students’ overall perceptions and all categories between two groups at level of .05. This means that male and female students were not different in their opinions towards characteristics of effective teachers.
Table 3 Analysis of Variance of Students’ Perceptions on Characteristics of Effective English Language Teacher Classified by Fields of Study Characteristic 1. English Proficiency
Variance Between Groups Within Groups Total
df 4 395 399
SS 4.50 309.92 314.42
MS 1.12 .78
2. Pedagogical Knowledge
Between Groups Within Groups Total
4 395 399
2.13 97.43 99.56
3. Organization and Communication Skills
Between Groups Within Groups Total
4 395 399
1.35 107.10 108.45
4. Socio-Affective Skills
Between Groups Within Groups Total
4 395 399
3.63 145.91 149.54
Between Groups Within Groups Total
4 395 399
1.72 95.45 97.17
* p < .05
Hypothesis 2 predicted that students from different study fields exhibited different perceptions of characteristics of effective teachers. ANOVA test was employed to investigate perspective differences in terms of field of study, and the result in Table 3 revealed that there was no statistically significant difference at level of .05 in overall opinions among five groups in terms of their field of study. This means that students with different fields of study were not different in their perceptions on effective teachers. Therefore, this hypothesis was rejected.
However, when all categories were considered, the result indicated that there was a significant difference found in the category of socio-affective skills at level of .05. As the sample sizes were the same, Tukey test was further conducted for pair wise comparison to investigate a significant difference in each pair. Consequently, it was found that perceptions on socio-affective skills of Physical Science students were higher than those of Social Science students ( Χ = 4.40, 4.11) at the significant level of .05. However, no significant difference was found in other pairs.
Table 4 Analysis of Variance of Students’ Perceptions on Characteristics of Effective English Language Teachers Classified by English Courses Taken Characteristic 1. English Proficiency
2. Pedagogical Knowledge
3. Organization and Communication Skills 4. Socio-Affective Skills
Variance Between Groups Within Groups Total Between Groups Within Groups Total Between Groups Within Groups Total Between Groups Within Groups Total Between Groups Within Groups Total
df 3 396 399 3 396 399 3 396 399 3 396 399 3 396 399
SS 3.33 311.08 314.42 2.82 96.74 99.56 3.80 104.65 108.45 6.48 143.05 149.54 3.69 93.48 97.17
MS 1.11 .79
* p < .05
Hypothesis 3 stated that students taking different English courses (EN111, 112, 211, and 212) had different perceptions of characteristics of effective teachers. This hypothesis was accepted due to the results in Table 4 showing that there were statistically significant differences in overall perceptions and in three categories among four groups of students at level of .05. As the sample sizes were the same, Tukey tests were further conducted for pair wise comparison to investigate a significant difference in each pair.
As a result, it was found that the overall characteristics were rated higher by students studying EN 212 than those studying EN 211 and 112 at the significance level of .05. Moreover, students studying EN 212 placed more importance on pedagogical knowledge and socio-affective skills than students in EN 112 and EN 211 classes at the significance level of .05. In addition, students from EN 212 course placed more importance on organization and communication skills than those studying EN 112 course at the significance level of .05.
Table 5 Analysis of Variance of Perceptions on Characteristics of Effective English Language Teachers Classified by Students’ English Proficiency Levels Teacher’s Characteristic 1. English Proficiency
2. Pedagogical Knowledge
3. Organization and Communication Skills 4. Socio-Affective Skills
* p < .05
Variance Between Groups Within Groups Total Between Groups Within Groups Total Between Groups Within Groups Total Between Groups Within Groups Total Between Groups Within Groups Total
df 2 397 399 2 397 399 2 397 399 2 397 399 2 397 399
SS 6.11 308.31 314.42 2.48 97.08 99.56 1.59 106.86 108.45 2.54 147.00 149.54 2.58 94.59 97.17
MS 3.05 .78
Hypothesis 4 predicted that students with different levels of English proficiency perceived characteristics of effective teachers differently. This hypothesis was accepted as the results obtained from applying the ANOVA revealed that there were statistically significant differences among three groups of students in overall perceptions and in three categories at level of .05. As the number of students in each group was not equal, the Scheffe test was further conducted for pair wise comparison to investigate a significant difference in each pair. The results showed that the students with low proficiency of English placed less importance on overall characteristics than those with high and moderate proficiency level at the significance level of .05. Moreover, the students with moderate proficiency of English placed more importance on “teachers’ English proficiency” than those who were not proficient in English at the significance level of .05. In terms of pedagogical knowledge, the low proficient group of students placed less importance on this category than the other two groups at the significance level of .05. Also, the students with low proficiency of English placed less importance on “teachers’ socio-affective skills” than those with high proficiency of English in English at the significance level of .05. II. Results from a Semi-structured Interview Things that students with low and high proficiency of English had in common included three items: 1. “Being well-prepared” was the most important characteristic for “effective teacher”. 2. Regarding teaching and learning, they needed something more helpful such as activities or exercises to help promote their learning. 3. “Teacher” was one factor that motivated the students’ learning or encouraged them to attend the class; they believed similarly that an effective teacher should have interesting teaching techniques and a pleasant personality. Things that both groups perceived differently included the following: 1. The students with low proficiency of English tended to blame on the teacher more than high proficient students when they failed. 2. In terms of barriers to learning, the students with low proficiency of English mentioned “teaching too fast” the most followed by “giving assignment that was harder than usual”. In contrast, the students with high proficiency of English stated that communication was the main obstacle to success. 3. Regarding action to success, the students with low proficiency of English identified “working in groups” and “teaching steps by steps and checking students’ understanding continually”, while the students with high proficiency stated “providing
different learning activities that promote students’ participation” the most followed by “teacher’s friendliness.” DISCUSSION OF RESEARCH FINDINGS Discussion of Finding One: Bangkok University students agreed the most that effective English language teachers should be effective in the aspect of organization and communication skills followed by the aspect of socio-affective skills. From the findings of quantitative and qualitative data, it can be concluded that Bangkok University students define effective English language teachers as the ones with good preparation, effective communication and pleasant personality. That the category of organization and communication skills was rated the most important followed by socioaffective skills could be because of the following reasons: 1. The students want their teachers to be more conversant with class preparation as this might help them understand things easily. 2. They hope to see their teachers use verbal or non-verbal behaviors to enable them to understand the content easily especially when English is used as a medium in the classroom. 3. They believe that a teacher’s pleasant personality such as not being bad-tempered, being fair, or being friendly can help create a good learning atmosphere. The result can be supported by Thompson (2008) who stated that “good teachers knew the information they were teaching and were confidently able to explain things or answer students’ questions why they came up in class.” Also, this finding is in accordance with Rudduck et al (1996) whose work reveals that pupils value teachers who provide (1) lessons that are well prepared and are seen to be well prepared, so that pupils know they have learned something, and can see that their teachers have put effort into preparing the lesson for them, (2) lessons that have a clear focus, and a content that finds some way of engaging with pupils’ everyday experiences, (3) lessons that have some variety of pace and activity including opportunities for practical and/or interactive work. Moreover, students want teachers who demonstrate interpersonal rapport in them. For example, friendliness can lead to students’ commitment to participate in the learning procedure. (Thompson, 2008) . Discussion of Finding Two: The perceptions of the male and female students about effective English language teachers were not significantly different. It was found that male and female students were not significantly different in their opinions towards characteristics of effective teachers. This might be because both groups are equally motivated
to the student-centered learning style. All students have to adjust themselves to participate more in activities due to new course design and evaluation. However, this result was not in accordance with Park & Lee’s research which was done to investigate the specific qualities that students perceived contributed to the teacher’s effectiveness as the finding indicated that the male students demonstrated different characteristics from the female students in socio-affective skills. Additionally, the result in this research did not agree with another research conducted by Suwandee stating that gender significantly affected the students’ perceptions in two components: Knowledge and Instructor-Group Interaction. Male students placed higher importance on Knowledge and Instructor-Group Interaction than female students did. Discussion of Finding Three: The perceptions of the students from different fields of study were not significantly different. The students from five fields of study placed the highest importance on the aspect of organization and communication skills similarly. It was also found that there was no statistically significant difference at level of .05 in overall opinions among five groups of students in terms of study field. This might be because they have the same overview of effective teachers no matter what field they are in due to the fact that language teaching is not like teaching other subjects. Borg (2006) identifies that language teachers teach communication, not facts, and they use English as a medium. That is, students study the subject through another language. All groups of students, therefore, want their teacher to be effective in order that they won’t have any problems in the classroom. Discussion of Finding Four: Students taking EN 212 had higher perceptions than students taking EN 211 and EN112. It was found that courses had an impact on students’ perceptions because four groups of students differed in terms of their opinions. The mean scores of their perceptions could be arranged in order from most to least as follows: EN 212, EN 111, EN 211, and EN 112. ( Χ = 4.32, 4.17, 4.11, 4.07) The overall characteristics were rated higher by students studying EN 212 than those studying EN 211 and 112 at the significance level of .05. This is probably because the content of EN 212 is more complicated and rather difficult for students, so they expected the teacher in charge of this advanced course to be more effective in terms of communication and socio-
affective skills. However, this finding is not in accordance with Meepiarn’s research (1995) whose result indicated that freshmen students placed more importance than senior students did. Discussion of Finding Five: Students with different proficiency levels perceived teacher effectiveness differently. The strongest finding of this study is that three groups with different English proficiency levels chose the organization and communication skills and socio-affective skills as the most important characteristics. In addition, the low proficiency group placed less importance on pedagogical knowledge and socio-affective skills than the high proficiency group at the significance level of .05. This is probably because there is a big gap in teaching English to suit low proficiency students’ learning styles. They always want the teaching tailored to their level. Therefore, they don’t care much about teaching theories, methods or relationship with teachers. This finding, therefore, is the same as what found in Park & Lee research (2006) explaining that the high achievement students reported different characteristics from the low achievement students in pedagogical knowledge and socio-affective skills. However, this finding is not consistent with the one of Koutsoulis (2003). This study reveals that BU students with low proficiency of English placed less importance on teachers’ socio-affective skills than those with high proficiency of English in English at the significance level of .05 while Koutsoulis’s finding states that students with the lowest achievement focused more on human characteristics and teaching skills and less on communication skills. IMPLICATION FOR PRACTICE Having informed views of the students enables English language teachers to understand them better and to adjust themselves to suit their needs. Noticeably, some characteristics were found to be important. The students want their teachers to communicate clearly and step by step and are wellorganized in their teaching. In addition, the students with low proficiency of English placed a lot of importance on socio-affective skills and tended to blame more on teachers than high-proficient students when they failed, so the teacher should pay more attention or give more care to those who are not good at English. It is recommended that teachers reconstruct and make decisions to adjust their existing ideas and practice to suit different groups.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH 1. There should be a research done to compare characteristics of effective English language teachers perceived by teachers themselves and their students. This is to check the balance between teacher’s and learners’ perceptions on the same thing. 2. A study should be done to examine other factors contributing to the quality of effective teachers. 3. There should be a study investigating the relation of teacher characteristics, including ratings of teacher quality, to classroom instructional variables and to students' language outcomes.
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Richards, J., & Rodgers, T. (1998). Approaches and methods in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rudduck, J., Chaplain, R., & Wallace, G. (1996). School improvement: What can pupils tell us? London: David Fulton. Suwandee, A. (1994). Students’ perceptions of university instructors’ teaching characteristics in the Faculty of Science, Mahidol University. Ph.D. Dissertation. Illinois State University. Thompson, S. (2008). Defining a good teacher simply! Modern English Teacher. 17(1), 5-14.
Assoc. Prof. Saovapa Wichadee received a M. Ed. in English from Srinakharinwirot Prasarnmitr and a B.A. in English from Kasetsart University. She is currently a Chairperson of Continuing Education Program and Special Projects, Language Institute, Bangkok University. Her research interest is in teacher’s development and teaching methods.