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Assessing classroom environments from an interpersonal perspective Educational Sciences BT Original paper (January, 2009) ORIGINAL PAPER

Assessing classroom environments from an interpersonal perspective Function differentiation between teachers and their interpersonal teacher behaviour
R. M. Kingma Abstract Since the start of the new millennium, a national function building framework has been implemented in Dutch education which created function differentiation by assigning teachers to standardized function descriptions. However, the effect of this function differentiation on the classroom environment has never become subject of investigation. In the present study, function differentiation is studied from an interpersonal perspective. Within present-day classrooms the teacher-student relationship is considered to be of influential importance on student learning. The interpersonal teacher behaviour of teachers with junior-medior-senior functions in three schools for secondary education (688 students from 35 teachers) were assessed and compared using both students and teachers perceptions of the teacher-student relationship as assessed with the Questionnaire on Teacher Interaction (QTI). Students perceptions indicated that junior-teachers were perceived as more uncertain, senior-teachers as more distanced, and medior-teachers as more dominant but cooperative which has the most positive effect on student learning according to past research. After comparing students perceptions with teachers perceptions, there was no discrepancy identified between junior-, medior-, and senior-teachers. Furthermore, the importance of teacher-student relationship studies within present-day discussions regarding the control and enhancement of educational quality is discussed. Keywords assessment of classroom environments interpersonal teacher behaviour student perception teacher-student relationship function differentiation quality teaching
R. M. (Marius) Kingma 0494054 Group 06 (dr. L. K. J. (Liesbeth) Baartman) Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences Department of Pedagogical and Educational Sciences Utrecht University R.M.Kingma@students.uu.nl

Introduction From the late 1960s on, research and theory on teaching has introduced different perspectives on teaching, with each approach embodying a specific concept regarding the relationship between teaching and learning (Fenstermacher & Richardson, 2005). However, after half a century of research, consensus about a framework of teaching or what constitutes quality teaching has not been reached (Grossman & McDonald, 2008). As research on teaching con-

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tinues its search for a common language, the present-day emphasis on control and enhancement of educational quality is further highlighting the absence of a conceptual determination of quality teaching (Fenstermacher & Richardson, 2005). Although the need for a generalizable framework of teaching and valid and reliable assessments of teachers subsequently have become international issues, the characteristics of teaching and the definitions of quality teaching are taking different forms in different cultures and different times (Berliner, 2001). Without a strong empirical fundament, cognitivist research on expertise, however, defined a select number of prototypic features of expert teachers based on their positive effect on student learning (Berliner, 2001). One noticeable exclusion within this specific list of characteristics of expertise was the interpersonal component of teaching. Within present-day multifaceted and multicultural classrooms, the teacher-student relationship is considered to be of influential importance on both cognitive and affective student outcomes, student learning activities, and the classroom environment atmosphere (Wubbels & Brekelmans, 2005). Due to a dominant focus on cognition within the past two decades of research and theory on teaching, the relational aspect of teaching erroneously has become considered conceptually undertheorized and empirically underestimated (Grossman & McDonald, 2008). After two decades of research on teaching from a cognitive approach, expert teachers have become distinguished from novice teachers by years of experience, social recognition, professional or social group membership, and performance based criteria (Palmer, Stough, Burdenski & Gonzales, 2005). As a matter of fact, within the same past two decades, research on teaching from a communicative approach has built a strong conceptual framework within the field of learning environments research, and has developed a crossculturally acclaimed assessment instrument, the Questionnaire on Teacher Interaction (Wubbels & Brekelmans, 2005). As an anticipation on the present-day importance of the relational aspect of teaching in research and theory on teaching, the purpose of this paper is to explore and, ultimately, highlight the usefulness of research on the teacher-student relationship in the common search for quality teaching. A study is presented in which research on interpersonal teacher behaviour has been placed within the context of present-day developments and discussions regarding the control and enhancement of educational quality a discussion in which the public concern regarding the improvement of teachers and teaching seems to have become overshadowed by the political spectacle of achievement-focused policy-makers (Fenstermacher & Richardson, 2005), and the never-ending paradigm wars between educational researchers (Grossman & MacDonald, 2008). Context According to a recent advice from the so-called Commission of Teachers (2007), Dutch education is facing a difficult future with a threatening shortage in quality teachers. As a reaction to the concern emphasizing these future implications regarding the control and enhancement of educational quality, teaching in the Netherlands has experienced several important changes since the start of the new millennium (Evers, 2007). One of these changes was the implementation of a national educational function building framework. Within this framework, existing function descriptions of teachers became categorized into standardized juniormedior-senior functions, thereby creating new possibilities for career development by means of function differentiation. Facing a possible problematic balance in teacher supply and demand, the enrichment of the teacher career was considered to be an effective method to improve career satisfaction, stimulate the use of talent, reveal the attractiveness of the teacher profession, and, ultimately, enhance educational quality (Vrieze, Houben & Kessel, 2003). However, the possibilities of function differentiation within the educational function building framework have not unquestionably been recognised nor fully understood. From the start of

Assessing classroom environments from an interpersonal perspective

its implementation, the idea of a diverse junior-medior-senior workforce within Dutch classrooms became diffuse. Because the framework primarily led to the interchange of managerial tasks on the new function descriptions of teachers, the diversity of the workforce was solely created outside classrooms (Evers, 2007). The focus of the function differentiation became on leadership qualities and teaching experience, thereby making senior-teachers organizationally responsible for junior- and medior-teachers within a vast hierarchical function building framework. In an attempt to restore the idea of function differentiation regarding the primary process (i.e., teaching), the National Platform for Professions in Education (NPPE, 2008) suggested a supplementary differentiation by expertise on top of the established educational function building framework. According to the national platform, the focus of the function differentiation has to be on quality teaching, thereby placing expert teachers not necessarily experienced teachers in role model positions within schools. However, by its reemphasis of the need for a generalizable framework of teaching and valid and reliable assessments of teachers, the proposition of the national platform referred to the recent definition of a national standard of teaching. As the result of a national survey under supervision of the Association for the Professional Quality of Teachers (APQT, 2004), the Professions in Education Act (BIO) was introduced, articulating seven teaching competences subdivided within four professional roles.1 Defining clear competence requirements of teaching was considered to be an important step forward towards the control and enhancement of Dutch educational quality (APQT, 2004). However, in contrast with the prototypic features of expertise summarized by Berliner (2001), one explicit inclusion within this national list of requirements was the interpersonal competence of teachers. Although the teaching competences that are included in the Dutch act can be assessed from various perspectives in research on teaching, the interpersonal perspective (Wubbels & Brekelmans, 2005) was chosen for the study presented in this paper. From this perspective, the interpersonal competence of teachers with junior-medior-senior functions were assessed and compared. Since the implementation of the Dutch educational function building framework, no empirical research exploring the possible effects of function differentiation on the classroom environment (i.e., teachers and students) has been conducted. In the present study, the influential importance of the teacher-student relationship on student learning has become positioned within the recent and future developments regarding the educational quality in the Netherlands. Conceptual framework Following the tradition in learning environments research of using participant perceptions within the classroom to assess the classroom environment (Fraser & Walberg, 2005), the interpersonal perspective on teaching has developed a strong conceptual framework. The conceptual framework is constructed by combining the systems theory of communication (Watzlawick, Beavin & Jackson, 1967) with research on the interpersonal diagnosis of personality (Leary, 1957). From the early 1980s, the application of these theories on teaching has resulted in a Model for Interpersonal Teacher Behaviour and an assessment instrument, the Questionnaire on Teacher Interaction (Wubbels & Brekelmans, 2005). The communicative systems approach Within research on the teacher-student relationship, teaching is studied from a pragmatic orientation on communication (i.e., the effect of communication) which starts from the assumptions that teachers and students have mutual effects on each others behaviour, and that it is impossible not to communicate in the presence of others (Wubbels & Brekelmans, 2005). Even when a teacher is silent, a message will be sent towards students. It is the stu-

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dent perception of the teacher-student relationship which determines the interpretation of teacher behaviour, and which has become the focus of research on interpersonal teacher behaviour. According to this so-called communicative systems approach (Watzlawick, Beavin & Jackson, 1967) the participants within a classroom environment create cyclical interactions which can be divided into a content aspect (i.e., verbal behaviour) and a relation aspect (i.e., non-verbal behaviour). These interactions are further distinguished into a message level of communication (i.e., single unit of behaviour) and a pattern level of communication (i.e., teacher-student relationship). During the past two decades, this pragmatic orientation of the communicative systems approach evolved into the conceptualization of research on interpersonal teacher behaviour. It subsequently developed a cross-cultural research tradition based on a model of interpersonal diagnosis of personality (Fraser & Walberg, 2005). The Model for Interpersonal Teacher Behaviour Originating from research on the interpersonal diagnosis of personality (Leary, 1957), students and teachers perceptions of the teacher-student relationship have been studied with the Model for Interpersonal Teacher Behaviour (MITB; see Figure 1). The model represents two dimensions on which the interpersonal teacher behaviour can be described: influence (dominance versus submission) and proximity (opposition versus cooperation). Along the vertical axis the influence dimension (DS) represents the degree of dominance or control displayed by the teacher. Along the horizontal axis the proximity dimension (OC) represents the level of cooperation between the teacher and the student. Eight types of interpersonal teacher behaviour have been identified within the orthogonal coordinate system of the two dimensions (Wubbels & Brekelmans, 2005): leadership (DC), helpful/friendly (CD), understanding (CS), student freedom (SC), uncertain (SO), dissatisfied (OS), admonishing (OD), and strict (DO). Parallel with the development of this circumplex model, interpersonal teacher behaviour became operationalized and represented by a set of items within a classroom environment instrument which has proven its cross-cultural usefulness in two decades of learning environments research (Fraser & Walberg, 2005). The Questionnaire on Teacher Interaction Assessing classroom environments by means of both students and teachers perceptions of the teacher-student relationship has become possible with the development of the Questionnaire on Teacher Interaction (QTI). The QTI is a classroom environment instrument which was designed according to the two-dimensional model for interpersonal teacher behaviour and its eight sectors to map the teacher-student relationship (Wubbels & Brekelmans, 2005). After open interviews with both teachers and students in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 1980s, items were formulated and divided into eight scales corresponding with the eight types of interpersonal teacher behaviour. Two decades of improvement resulted in the present-day 48-item questionnaire on which students indicate their perceptions and teachers indicate their self-perceptions of the interpersonal teacher behaviour. Despite the multidimensional elements (e.g., school-, class-, teacher- and student-level variables) which affect students perceptions of the classroom environment (Den Brok, Brekelmans & Wubbels, 2006), the use of students perceptions for the assessment of interpersonal teacher behaviour has become to be considered both a valid and reliable contribution to learning environments research (Fraser & Walberg, 2005). Although the validity of students perceptions of learning environments is still subject of investigation (Ldtke, Trautwein, Kunter & Baumert, 2006), students perceptions of interpersonal teacher behaviour can be considered important intermediating variables between teaching and student learning. Students perceptions are consi d-

Assessing classroom environments from an interpersonal perspective

ered to be a cost-effective and efficient method for gathering classroom environment data because students have encountered many different classroom environments and have enough time in a class to form accurate impressions (Fraser, 1998).

Figure 1. The Model for Interpersonal Teacher Behaviour (Wubbels & Brekelmans, 2005). Studies of interpersonal teacher behaviour Students and teachers perceptions of the teacher-student relationship have been used in a large number of research (cf. Wubbels & Brekelmans, 2005). With the largest body of studies exploring its influence on cognitive and affective student outcomes, positive relationships between students perceptions of teacher influence and student achievement, and teacher proximity and student motivation have been identified (Den Brok, Brekelmans & Wubbels, 2004). Other studies compared students with teachers perceptions of interpersonal teacher behaviour for the improvement of the teacher-student relationship (Wubbels & Brekelmans, 2005). A longitudinal classroom management study used the QTI to monitor the development of the interpersonal competence of teachers across the teaching career (Brekelmans, Wubbels & Van Tartwijk, 2005). For beginning teachers, a significant difference between students and teachers perceptions were found on the influence dimension. For experienced teachers, a significant difference was found on the proximity dimension. Currently, preparations for intervention studies (e.g., professional development programmes) are undertaken in which the QTI is used as a feedback instrument reporting on the interpersonal teacher behaviour by means of so-called interpersonal profiles (Wubbels & Brekelmans, 2005). Quality teaching has been studied with the QTI in an Australian study (Waldrip & Fisher, 2003). Because high student perceptions of teacher influence and proximity proved to have a positive influence on cognitive and affective student outcomes (Den Brok, Brekelmans & Wubbels, 2005), expert teachers were identified by high student perceptions on leadership (DC), helpful/friendly (CD), and understanding (CS) teacher behaviour, and low student perceptions on admonishing (OD), dissatisfied (OS), and uncertain (SO) teacher behaviour (Waldrip & Fisher, 2003). In the present study, the QTI is used for the identification of differences in interpersonal teacher behaviour between teachers with junior-medior-senior functions. As an anticipation on the recent proposition for a differentiation by expertise in Dutch education,

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the present study is distinctive in that it studies function differentiation from an interpersonal perspective to identify quality teaching in Dutch classrooms. Research questions According to the relation between expert teaching and years of experience (Palmer et al., 2005), and primarily experienced teachers were assigned to senior-functions within the Dutch educational function building framework (Evers, 2007), senior-teachers are hypothesized to be perceived as more interpersonal competent than junior- or medior-teachers. Interpersonal competence is defined by high student perceptions on both the influence and the proximity dimension (Wubbels & Brekelmans, 2005). Research question 1. Can a difference be identified in students perceptions of interpersonal teacher behaviour between teachers with junior-medior-senior functions?

According to the relation between experienced teachers and teacher influence, and beginning teachers and teacher proximity (Brekelmans, Wubbels & Van Tartwijk, 2005), and primarily beginning teachers start their teaching career as a junior-teacher (Evers, 2007), after comparing students with teachers perceptions, junior-teachers are hypothesized to show the largest discrepancy on the influence dimension, and senior-teachers are hypothesized to show the largest discrepancy on the proximity dimension. Research question 2. Can a difference be identified between students and teachers perceptions of interpersonal teacher behaviour between teachers with junior-medior-senior functions?

Method Sample Between May 8th and May 22nd 2008, QTI data were gathered from 688 students and 35 teachers in 35 classes in three schools for secondary education in the district of SouthWestern Frisia (The Netherlands). Since August 2005, these secondary schools have categorized the function descriptions of their teachers into junior-medior-senior functions according to the standards of the national function building framework for secondary education (FUWA-VO 2002). Junior-, medior-, and senior-teachers who volunteered selected one intermediately performing class for participation. After the teachers received the questionnaire, the completion of the QTI by the students occurred within their classrooms. At the same time, the participating teachers were asked to fill in the QTI for themselves. The researcher was not present when the students and teachers filled out the questionnaire, so possible questions regarding the interpretation of the items were only answerable by the teachers. Class sizes ranged between 8 and 29 students (M = 21.71, SD = 5.84). Slightly more than half of the students were male (N = 348). Students ranged in age from 11 to 18 years (M = 14.49, SD = 1.19), with most being 14 or 15 years old. Students were asked to identify themselves by school type and grade level (i.e., class year). The students identified themselves as follows: vmbo (pre-vocational secondary education; 39.80 %), havo (senior general secondary education; 15.80 %), and vwo (pre-university education; 44.30 %), ranging between grade level: 1 (17.40 %), 2 (19.00 %), 3 (44.20 %), 4 (16.30 %), and 5 (3.10 %). By far most

Assessing classroom environments from an interpersonal perspective

of the participating teachers were male (N = 24). The teachers identified themselves as follows: junior (52.90 %), medior (32.40 %), and senior (14.70 %). They ranged in age from 23 to 61 years (M = 42.96, SD = 10.87). Most of the teachers in the sample were 35 years or older (71.40 %), with only a small number being 60 years or older (3.60 %). More than one third (37.90 %) of the participating teachers had less than ten years of teaching experience, and another third had more than 20 years of teaching experience (31.00 %). Most of the teachers taught modern languages (26.50 %) or natural sciences (32.40 %), while somewhat smaller numbers taught social sciences (23.50 %) and other subjects (17.60 %). Instrumentation In the present study, the Dutch 48-item version of the QTI (Brekelmans, 2008) was used. In this version, the eight types of interpersonal teacher behaviour are subdivided into eight scales, with each scale represented by six items (for typical items, see Table 1). The questionnaire was presented as a student version and a teacher version on which interpersonal teacher behaviour was to be rated on a five-point scale: from never/not at all to always/very. Besides the general items regarding the perceptions of interpersonal teacher behaviour, items for the background variables on student level, teacher level, and class level were added to the QTI (for an overview, see Appendix). The QTI meets the standards of the American Evaluation Association (1999) for accuracy, reliability and validity, and proved its reliability on each of the eight scales in the present study (Cronbach > .65).2 Table 1. Typical items for the scales of the QTI
Scale (sector) DC CD CS SC SO OS OD DO Leadership Helpful/friendly Understanding Student freedom Uncertain Dissatisfied Admonishing Strict Typical item This teacher acts confidently. This teacher is friendly. This teacher is patient. We can influence this teacher. This teacher is hesitant. This teacher is suspicious. This teacher gets angry quickly. This teacher is strict.

Analyses Although for the explanation of variables affecting student perceptions of interpersonal teacher behaviour a multilevel analysis of the QTI-data would have provided a more accurate output (Den Brok, Brekelmans & Wubbels, 2006), single-level analyses were used for the present study due to the complexity of multilevel analyses and time constraints. Before the analysis of the QTI-data was possible, scale scores on each of the eight interpersonal teacher behaviour scales were computed into dimension scores for both the influence and the proximity dimension.3 For the first research question a regular one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA, = .05) was used to compare students perceptions of both the influence and the proximity dimension between teachers with junior-medior-senior functions. For the second research question, first the idiosyncratic data was aggregated to whole-class data. Means of the students perceptions of the two dimensions were computed for each class, resulting in 35

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whole-class perceptions. Second, a paired samples t-test ( = .05) was used to compare students with teachers perceptions on both the influence and the proximity dimension. Third, the mean differences between students and teachers perceptions were computed for both dimensions. Finally, an ANOVA ( = .05) was used to compare the mean differences between teachers with junior-medior-senior functions. Uncorrected output was obtained by comparing means for one explanatory variable at a time using SPSS 14.0.1 software. It should be noted that the different scales and dual dimension scores of the QTI are correlated with each other because they are ordered in a (semi)circular structure (Wubbels & Brekelmans, 2005). Results Regarding the first research question, a significant difference between each of the teacher functions was identified for the influence dimension, F(2, 670) = 54.05, p < .01. Seniorteachers (M = 0.72, SD = 0.35) were perceived more dominant than junior-teachers (M = 0.29, SD = 0.39) or medior-teachers (M = 0.42, SD = 0.39). Another significant difference between each of the teacher functions was identified on the proximity dimension, F(2, 670) = 15.72, p < .01. Senior-teachers (M = 0.42, SD = 0.61) were perceived less cooperative than junior-teachers (M = 0.73, SD = 0.65) or medior-teachers (M = 0.82, SD = 0.62). A post-hoc test (Bonferroni) showed a non-significant difference between junior- and medior-teachers on the proximity dimension (see Table 2). Mean scores for the eight scales of interpersonal teacher behaviour showed a significant difference between each of the teacher functions (see Table 3). Junior-teachers were rated highest on understanding (CS) and uncertain (SO) teacher behaviour. Medior-teachers were rated highest on leadership (DC), helpful/friendly (CD), and student freedom (SC) teacher behaviour. Senior-teachers were rated highest on dissatisfied (OS), admonishing (OD), and strict (DO) teacher behaviour. Table 2. Post-hoc test (Bonferroni) for interpersonal teacher behaviour of teachers with junior-medior-senior functions
Mean difference Influence (DS) Junior Junior Medior Medior Senior Senior 0.13 0.42 0.30 0.03 0.04 0.04 < .01 < .01 < .01 Standard error p Confidence interval (95%) Lower bound 0.21 0.52 0.40 Lower bound 0.09 0.31 0.40 0.06 0.07 0.07 < .29 < .01 < .01 0.23 0.15 0.23 Upper bound 0.05 0.33 0.19 Upper bound 0.04 0.47 0.58

Proximity (OC) Junior Junior Medior Medior Senior Senior

Regarding the second research question, there was no significant difference identified after comparing students perceptions (M = 0.40, SD = 0.25) with teachers perceptions (M = 0.47, SD = 0.35) for the influence dimension, t(34) = 1.30, p = .20. For the proximity dimension, there was a significant difference identified between students perceptions (M = 0.71, SD = 0.45) and teachers perceptions (M = 0.90, SD = 0.35), t(34) = 2.34, p < .05. However, the comparison of the mean differences on the proximity dimension between junior-teachers (M

Assessing classroom environments from an interpersonal perspective

= 0.15, SD = 0.52), medior-teachers (M = 0.16, SD = 0.46), and senior-teachers (M = 0.42, SD = 0.43) resulted in a non-significant outcome, F(2, 31) = 0.65, p = .53. Mean scores of both students and teachers ratings for the eight scales of interpersonal teacher behaviour showed that teachers reported higher on helpful/friendly (CD) and understanding (CS) teacher behaviour, but lower on student freedom (SC), uncertain (SO), and dissatisfied (OS) teacher behaviour than students reported (see Table 3). However, no significant differences in discrepancy between teachers with junior-medior-senior functions were identified. Table 3. Mean scores for eight scales of interpersonal teacher behaviour of teachers with junior-medior-senior functions
Students perceptions (N = 674) Scale (sector) Junior DC CD CS SC SO OS OD DO Leadership Helpful/friendly Understanding Student freedom Uncertain Dissatisfied Admonishing Strict 0.64 0.69 0.70 0.54 0.37 0.30 0.43 0.53 Medior 0.73 0.72 0.70 0.57 0.33 0.30 0.42 0.55 Senior 0.72 0.60 0.61 0.43 0.22 0.37 0.50 0.65 Junior 0.68 0.72 0.76 0.50 0.32 0.22 0.43 0.55 Medior 0.70 0.74 0.75 0.56 0.30 0.25 0.42 0.49 Senior 0.72 0.73 0.74 0.45 0.18 0.28 0.39 0.71 Teachers perceptions (N = 34)

Discussion In the present study, function differentiation has been studied from an interpersonal perspective, and hypothesized differences in interpersonal teacher behaviour between teachers with junior-medior-senior functions have been identified. Results showed a significant difference between students perceptions of junior-, medior-, and senior-teachers on both the influence and the proximity dimension. Junior-teachers were perceived as more uncertain, seniorteachers as more distanced, and medior-teachers as more dominant but cooperative. According to the development of interpersonal teacher behaviour across the teaching career (Brekelmans, Wubbels & Van Tartwijk, 2005), junior-teachers were perceived low on the influence dimension and high on the proximity dimension, displayed uncertain (SO) teacher behaviour, and created a tolerant classroom atmosphere. Senior-teachers were perceived high on the influence dimension and low on the proximity dimension, displayed strict (DO) teacher behaviour, and created a businesslike classroom atmosphere. Medior-teachers were perceived high on both the influence and the proximity dimension, displayed leadership (DC) and helpful/friendly (CD) teacher behaviour, and created a classroom atmosphere which most positively affects student learning (Den Brok, Brekelmans & Wubbels, 2004). After comparing students with teachers perceptions of interpersonal teacher behaviour, a significant difference on the proximity dimension was identified, but no significant difference in discrepancy between the teacher functions. In general, teachers perceived themselves to be more cooperative (e.g., helpful/friendly, understanding) than students reported. Although the hypothesized differences in discrepancy between the teacher functions were non-significant, junior-teachers showed the largest discrepancy for teacher influence, and senior-teachers for teacher proximity. Students and teachers perceptions of the interpersonal teacher behaviour

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least disagreed for medior-teachers. Multiple studies have indicated that students perceptions of teacher influence and proximity were positively related to the agreement between students and teachers perceptions, and, ultimately, positively related to cognitive and affective student outcomes (cf. Wubbels & Brekelmans, 2005). The results of the present study indicate that medior-teachers were perceived as most interpersonal competent. However, the hypothesized relationship between interpersonal competence and years of experience (Palmer et al., 2005) was rejected. Medior-teachers had less years of experience (M = 13.50, SD = 7.00) in comparison with junior-teachers (M = 15.29, SD = 10.86) and senior-teachers (M = 27.00, SD = 9.27). A possible explanation for this result is the assignment of mediorfunctions to teachers who, nevertheless, display expert teaching competences from the start of their teaching career (NPPE, 2008). This result questions the assumption that expert teachers can be distinguished from novice teachers by years of experience (Berliner, 2001) and highlights the importance of the relational aspect of teaching in research and theory on teaching (Wubbels & Brekelmans, 2005). Regarding the explorative character of the present study, the QTI has proven its capability of comparing interpersonal teacher behaviour between teachers with different function descriptions. With the present-day emphasis on the control and enhancement of educational quality by means of function differentiation (Evers, 2007), the possibilities of the QTI can be applied to large-scale assessments of teachers as well. Another important application of the QTI is its application as a feedback instrument to provide teachers essential insight about their interpersonal teacher behaviour. After cluster analysis of the QTI-data, so-called interpersonal profiles can be provided to the teacher. The interpersonal profile represents a visual summary of both the obtained students and teachers perceptions of interpersonal teacher behaviour. Multiple studies have identified and used eight specific interpersonal profiles: directive, authoritative, tolerant and authoritative, tolerant, uncertain/tolerant, uncertain/aggressive, repressive, and drudging (Wubbels & Brekelmans, 2005). These interpersonal profiles can provide essential insight to help teachers improve their classroom environment, classroom atmosphere, and their teaching. In future studies, other assessment instruments besides the QTI can be applied to assess specific teaching competences (e.g., pedagogical, didactical, organizational). Such studies could be of influential importance on future developments within the field of research on teaching and teacher education (Grossman & McDonald, 2008). With the international attention to issues regarding quality teaching, research on teaching has the potential to influence the discussion and development in areas of teacher education, assessment and evaluation of teaching, and teacher certification (Palmer et al., 2005). Recently, a national research programme called Education Evidence has been initiated by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (2008). The programme tries to stimulate the cooperation between educational research and the educational field in Dutch primary and secondary education. These initiatives are important steps forward towards a stronger relationship between research and theory on teaching, the educational field, and the future control and enhancement of educational quality. The present study hopefully inspires this search for quality teaching from an interpersonal perspective. Notes 1. According to the Professions in Education Act (BIO), first four teacher roles are distinguished (APQT, 2004): (1) with students, (2) with colleagues, (3) within the environment, and (4) with themselves (e.g., professional development). Second, four teaching competences are subdivided within the four teacher roles: (1) interpersonal, (2) pedagogical, (3) academic and didactical, and (4) organizational.

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2.

3.

Internal consistency/reliability of the eight scales of interpersonal teacher behaviour with Cronbach reliability coefficient were computed: leadership (DC) = .72, helpful/friendly (CD) = .84, understanding (CS) = .80, student freedom (SC) = .84, uncertain (SO) = .74, dissatisfied (OS) = .79, admonishing (OD) = .65, and strict (DO) = .67. The eight scale scores are represented as vectors in a two-dimensional space, each dividing a section of the MITB in two and with a length corresponding to the height of the scale score. The two coordinates (i.e., dimension scores) of the resultant of these eight vectors are computed as follows (Wubbels & Brekelmans, 2005): influence = (0.92 DC) (0.38 CD) (0.38 CS) (0.92 SC) (0.92 SO) (0.38 OS) (0.38 OD) (0.92 DO); proximity = (0.38 DC) (0.92 CD) (0.92 CS) (0.38 SC) (0.38 SO) (0.92 OS) (0.92 OD) (0.38 DO).

Appendix Background variables


Level Student Variable Gender Age Report card grade Description Nominal scale, with boys indicated by a 1. Ordinal scale, students indicate their age in years (range from 10 to 20). Ordinal scale, students indicate the score on the last report card that they received on the subjectmatter (range from 1 to 10). Interval scale, the number of students in class. Ordinal scale, the grade level of the class (range from 1 to 6). Ordinal scale, with the school type vmbo indicated by a 1, havo by a 2, and vwo indicated by a 3 . Nominal scale, subject taught by the teacher categorized in four categories (1 as natural sciences; 2 as social sciences; 3 as languages; 4 as other). Nominal scale, with male indicated by a 1. Interval scale, teachers indicate their age in years. Interval scale, teachers indicate their teaching experience in years. Nominal scale, with junior indicated by a 1, medior by a 2, and senior indicated by a 3.

Class

Class size Grade level School type

Subject taught

Teacher

Gender Age Experience Function

References American Evaluation Association (1999). The personnel evaluation standards. Summary of the standards. Retrieved from www.eval.org Association for the Professional Quality of Teachers (2004). Professions in Education Act (BIO). Utrecht, The Netherlands: APQT. Retrieved from www.lerarenweb.nl

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Berliner, D. C. (2001). Learning about and learning from expert teachers. International Journal of Educational Research, 35, 463-482. Brekelmans, M. (2008). The Questionnaire on Teacher Interaction (Dutch version). Utrecht, The Netherlands: IVLOS. Brekelmans, M., Wubbels, Th., & Tartwijk, J. van (2005). Teacher-student relationships across the teaching career. International Journal of Educational Research, 43, 55-71. Brok, P. den, Brekelmans, M., & Wubbels, Th. (2004). Interpersonal teacher behaviour and student outcomes. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 15, 407-442. Brok, P. den, Brekelmans, M., & Wubbels, Th. (2006). Multilevel issues in research using students perceptions of learning environments: The case of the Questionnaire on Teacher Interaction. Learning Environments Research, 9, 199-213. Commision of Teachers (2007). LeerKracht! Advice from the Commission of Teachers to the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The Hague, The Netherlands: Commission of Teachers (in Dutch). Retrieved from www.minocw.nl Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (2008). Education Evidence; for the educational field and educational researchers who want to know what really works. The Hague, The Netherlands: SenterNovem (in Dutch). Retrieved from www.minocw.nl Evers, G. H. M. (2007). Advice regarding the improvement of the implementation of differentiation by function and reward within Dutch primary and secondary education. Tilburg, The Netherlands: Institute for Labour Studies (in Dutch). Retrieved from www.minocw.nl Fenstermacher, G. D., & Richardson, V. (2005). On making determinations of quality in teaching. Revision of paper presented for the Board of International Comparative Studies in Education of the National Academies of Science and the National Research Council, Washington DC, Teachers College Record, 107, 186-213. Fraser, B. J. (1998). Classroom environment instruments: Development, validity and applications. Learning Environments Research, 1, 7-33. Fraser, B. J., & Walberg, H. J. (2005). Research on teacher-student relationships and learning environments: Context, retrospect and prospect. International Journal of Educational Research, 43, 103-109. Grossman, P., & McDonald, M. (2008). Back to the future: Directions for research in teaching and teacher education. American Educational Research Journal, 45, 184-205. Leary, T. (1957). An interpersonal diagnosis of personality. New York: Ronald Press Company. National Platform for Professions in Education (2008). Recognizing excellence: Towards a differentiation by expertise for teachers. Utrecht, The Netherlands: NPPE (in Dutch). Retrieved from www.lpbo.nl Palmer, D. J., Stough, L. M., Burdenski, T. K., & Gonzales, M. (2005). Identifying teacher expertise: An examination of researchers decision making. Educational Psychologist, 40, 13-25. Vrieze, G., Houben, L., & Kessel, N. van (2003). Function differentiation within Dutch edu-

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