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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Perceived instructor effectiveness in Canadian prison adult basic education Stewart, Heather M.


In the latter part of the 1980's, contracting by the Correctional Service of Canada with private and public institutions accelerated. This contracting included provision of educational programs. Therefore, as a result of a new emphasis upon Canadian literacy education during the same period, there arose a need to select numbers of contract personnel who would be effective in prison adult basic education teaching. Subsequently, eighteen teachers in the Ontario and Pacific Regions of the Correctional Service of Canada were subjects of a study that sought information about effectiveness criteria to assist in the selection of teachers for prison adult basic education teaching. The Evaluation of Teacher Behaviors rating instrument established an upper quartile that identified five prison adult basic education teachers perceived as most effective, and a lower quartile of five prison adult basic education teachers perceived as least effective. Teachers completed the Demographic Data Questionnaire, providing information about academic education, teaching experience, additional training and education, and certification. They then participated in a structured, oral interview, the Correctional Teacher Interview Survey, responding to questions about their teaching strategies and their personal beliefs regarding the effects of prison education. Three experienced correctional educators rated these responses according to criteria that suggested possession of qualities such as sense of mission, structure, and empathy. Three teachers from the high group also responded to the Supplementary Questionnaire, which asked for their perceptions of their own schooling, relevant life experiences, and attitudes to their students as individuals. Analysis of the results of the Evaluation of Teacher Behaviors indicated statistically significant differentiation between the two groups on each of eleven criteria, with greatest differentiation for the criteria original, overall effective, adaptable, and stimulating. Analysis of responses to the Demographic Data Questionnaire showed that in the high group there was a greater percentage of teachers who had recently been involved in supplementary training and continuing education experiences. The low group of teachers possessed more years of experience in public/parochial school teaching than did teachers in the high group. The three correctional educators who rated the subject teachers' responses to the Correctional Teachers Interview Survey found that the teachers in the high group scored better on the characteristics clarity, desire to help students grow, structure, and empathy than did teachers in the low group. Analysis revealed that both the students who rated the eighteen teachers on the Evaluation of Teacher Behaviors instrument and the three correctional educators who rated the responses of the same teachers to the Correctional Teacher Interview Survey had, according to these ratings, similarly placed eight of the ten subject teachers in their respective high and low groups. The Supplementary Questionnaire revealed that three teachers from the high group possessed similar experiences in their personal and professional backgrounds and currently employed similar teaching strategies. Findings from this study have suggested that teachers who are perceived effective may possess behavioral characteristics, life and work experiences, and similar teaching strategies that distinguish them from those who are perceived to be low in effectiveness. Appropriate application and interview techniques could be designed to elicit information about these distinguishing elements.

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