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Factor-based measurement of teacher attitudes: A secondary analysis
Report from the Attitude Scale Subproject, Institute of Education, Singapore, November 1983
Attitudes have been conceptualized as "learned predisposition to respond positively or negatively to objects, situations, institution, concepts or persons (Aiken, 19XXs 2)." An attitude is said to have an element of approval-disapproval; is generalized and emotive, may not be in the full awareness of the person who possesses it, and affects the selection and organization of pertinent facts (Aiken, 19XX).
Research interest in the measurement of attitudes implies a relationship between attitudes and behaviours. It is quite common that behaviours are attributed to the existence or the lack of relevant attitudes, expost facto. It is equally common, therefore, to expect attitudes to predict behaviours. In spite of the rather discouraging results of attempts at correlating attitudes and behaviours over the past half century, new theorization and methodologies have imbued new vatality into the search of more effective techniques of attitudinal measurement. This is true of research in sociology and psychology as well as in education, as evidenced by the number of attitude scales collected, for example, in Shaw and Wright (1967).
Against this background, it is natural to consider the feasibility of using attitude scales for the identification and selection of potential effective teachers. Teacher education institutes have normally admitted students on the strength of their academic achievement usually supplemented by interviews, and the predictive validity of these remain largely to be proved empirically (Eng, 198..}). Two possible explanations can be advanced for this. First, students admitted to teacher education programme for highly selected groups as a result of the selection process. This yield a truncated distribution in the range of academic achievement which could have attenuated the correlation between achievement and teacher effectiveness however measured. Second, it takes much more than academic prowess to make effective teachers as teaching is as much an interaction between the teacher and pupils in the social context of the classroom and the school as it is a process of cultural transmission. It may then be safely said that academic excellence is a necessary by not sufficient condition of teacher effectiveness.
It would appear then that measures of student attitudes toward education and teaching may contribute to the prediction of teacher effectivenes and supplement information gathered under the tradition of using academic achievement and interview. The pilot study to use the Minnesota Teacher Attitude Inventory (Cook et al., 1951) for predicting teacher effectiveness in the Singapore context (Eng et al., 1983) is a case in point. The research team is also looking into the predictive validity of the Sixteen Personality Factors Questionnaire (Cattell and Eber, 1968). Yet another attempt of the team is to create an indigenous scale for measuring attitudes towards education and teaching amongst students.
As a matter of fact, the data analyzed in this study are those collected by the research team* and were made available to the present writer for a secondary analysis+ to complement their effort.
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