UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A survey of adult basic education teachers in the province of British Columbia with special reference to their training needs Davison, Catherine Val


This study was undertaken to facilitate the development of training programs for teachers of adult basic education by providing factual information about those who were instructing up to and including the Grade VIII level during the 1968-1969 academic year. A structured interview schedule was pre-tested and subjected to several revisions; and interviews were conducted with the total population of 46 teachers in the province. These teachers were engaged by public schools, penal institutions, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the Department of Social Welfare. By encompassing both an assessment of teacher characteristics and attitudes and an exploration of those areas in which teachers perceived a need for further education, the results of this investigation produced implications not only for further research and the development of training programs as indicated above, but for the recruitment and retention of adult basic education teachers. Half of those interviewed were university graduates, and while most reported some training and experience in elementary or secondary education, few teachers had more than a minimal amount of professional preparation or experience in teaching adults. That they perceived a need for special instruction in teaching adult illiterates was exemplified by the large number who desired to participate in training programs if they were made available and by the high percentage of affirmative responses on items related to specific training areas, as set out in the interview schedule. Over fifty per cent of the teachers expressed a need for further instruction in the principles of adult psychology and adult education practices, which would give them a base for developing skill in working with adults. In addition, most teachers felt they could benefit from training in teaching reading and communications skills. All of the factors outlined above produced implications which will inevitably affect the development of any training programs. Because only seven (15 per cent) teachers were employed in adult basic education full-time, most preferred workshops and conferences which, in their estimation, demanded involvement in direction proportion to their degree of commitment to adult education. Moreover, as this investigation indicated, it is unlikely that many teachers will vigorously concern themselves with improving their competence unless their administrators or supervisors assume a more active role in promoting higher standards for teaching. Responses to training needs varied according to the educational backgrounds, experiences, attitudes and perceptions of the teachers. Generally, those with higher education, teaching credentials and with more experience both in and outside of adult education were more concerned with improving their competence and indicated a greater personal awareness of their limitations within their positions. These teachers were also in the group who scored significantly higher on job satisfaction items related to administrative policies, human relations and teaching competence. Furthermore, as evidenced by their answers to items relating to the adult basic education process, teachers with more education and experience showed a significantly higher degree of orientation to the student and his needs rather than to the organizational and management aspects of conducting a program. Because of the varied educational backgrounds and experiences of the teachers, consideration may have to be given to the provision of different levels of training based upon an agreement on objectives by both teacher-trainees and program planners. To develop these objectives, the model for identifying the knowledge, skills and attitudes the adult basic education teacher should possess, which was developed from the review of the literature, could be utilized. From the findings of this study, it appears that further research might profitably be concerned with factors related to teacher job satisfaction. Does satisfaction with a teaching position relate to professional security, higher education and training for teaching adults? Does satisfaction relate\to changing expectations over the years? Does job satisfaction relate to differences among administrators or differences in one's relations with students? In addition, because of the over-all emphasis in adult basic education on the importance of teacher attitudes, it is important to develop special teacher attitude scales. Such scales, for example, would permit a study of the relationship of teacher's attitudes to classroom practice. Furthermore, if teacher attitudes were found to be related to subsequent performance, they might provide a convenient means of evaluating the effectiveness of certain aspects of teacher training programs. Finally, social interaction studies must be instituted. It would appear that the more effective adult basic education teacher will be one who is able to provide a learning situation in which the student feels he is an integral and needed part.

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