Samuel I. Wachin
Department of Chemistry,
College of Education, Katsina-Ala.
This study determined the feasibility of using mentoring as a training programme for beginning chemistry teachers. Three local government areas were randomly sampled from seven in Benue state Education zone A. Twelve schools were purposively sampled from the three local government areas. Twenty-two beginning chemistry teachers and twelve veterans were used as sampled subjects. Six schools each were randomly assigned to control and experimental groups. The beginning chemistry teachers were observed using Chemistry Teacher’s Observation Scheduled (CTOS), as an instrument with a reliability coefficient of 0.91. Treatment of experimental group took 8 weeks after the pre-test. Data collected were analyzed using t-test and one-way ANOVA. Three hypotheses were tested at 0.05 significant levels. The results showed that mentored beginning teachers developed high teaching competencies; that significant difference existed in teaching competencies of professionally trained teachers over their non-professional counterparts. It was recommended that mentoring should be used as a teacher support or on-the-job training programme for teachers.
Mentoring is a process by which a mentor provides encouragement, guidance and advice in order to develop the potentials and improve the performances of a mentee, raises his self confidence and helps to develop certain skills and competences, behaviours and attitudes. These may be in the area of education, business or personal development (www.tower.ac.uk./mentoring). Grove and Houn (2003) also refer to mentoring as a supportive relationship that is extended by constructive role-modeling encouragement towards raised aspirations and by positive reinforcement for the achievement of goals. In the same vein, Hornby (2000) defined mentoring as an experienced person advising and helping somebody with less experience over a period of time.
In this study, mentoring is conceived of as a relationship which gives the experienced people the opportunity to share their professional experiences and personal skills with the less experienced persons with an overall goal of helping the less experienced persons to grow and develop specific competencies. The beginning teachers face numerous problems. Ali (1997), summed these frequently occurring problems as classroom management, discipline, ability to motivate and engage students, handling individual differences, relationship with colleagues, appropriate and effective use of textbooks, reference and other instructional materials, laboratory organization and management, evaluation of students’ work, etc. These myriads of problems are equally experienced by beginning chemistry teachers. In fact, Halil (2007) averred that beginning teachers who are also inexperienced in the teaching job have the problem of employing a variety of teaching strategies appropriate to the age, abilities and attainment level of their students; they also experience a problem in introducing science lessons by building on students’ existing previous knowledge and skills; that most beginning chemistry teachers for lack of experience express difficulty in presenting subject matter in a clear language and in a stimulating manner. Similarly, Veeman (1998) asserted that, beginning teachers are ineffective in using a variety of evaluation devices and procedures to determine students’ progress in science classes; they also experience a problem in creating an encouraging learning environment in which diversity is valued and each learner feels accepted, safe and self-confident.
In their contribution, Davis and Petish (2006), opined that, beginning teachers for lack of experience exhibit a series of problems which among others include; inability to express ideas as well as give clear explanations to students’ misconceptions in science lessons; failure to establish relevance while teaching, i.e. not relating the science content taught to the student’s daily life; inability to deal with inappropriate or discipline behaviours in the class; and in most cases they are ineffective in establishing clear instructional objectives during instructional processes. With these problems hovering over and around a beginning teacher, one would not expect him to be professionally effective as his experienced colleagues. Research reports have also shown that highly experienced and effective teachers do significantly improve educational outcomes of students more than their less experienced and ineffective colleagues (Halil, 2007; Ugbe and Agim, 2009; Veeman, 1998). Also, Burnett and Meacham (2002), have shown from their studies that experience of teachers is positively correlated with higher students achievement, whereas, a negative effect of inexperienced teachers is the lowering of students achievement scores. Similarly, Ugbe and Agim (2009), have reported from their study that, students taught by experienced and effective teachers performed significantly better than those taught by inexperienced and ineffective teachers. These research results suggest that, significant gains in students achievement will be realized when students are taught by experienced and effective teachers.
Teacher effectiveness is the ability of teachers to consistently achieve the planned goals-be they self-selected or imposed, which are related either directly or indirectly to students learning. According to Ko (2013), teacher effectiveness is generally referred to in terms of a focus on students educational outcomes and the teachers’ behavior and classroom processes that promote better student learning outcomes. Similarly, Dar (2012), conceived of teacher effectiveness as the collection of characteristics, competencies and behaviours of teacher at all educational levels that enable students to attain desired learning outcomes. In this study however, teacher effectiveness is conceived as the competences with which teachers are able to perform their classroom instructional process leading to the attainment of desired learning outcomes by the students.
Teacher effectiveness comprise of three main components, these according to Darling-Hammond (2006), include; knowledge, attitude and performance. She asserted that, possession of knowledge of the subject matter; communication skills; pedagogical strategies; knowledge of students and how student learn how to organize and manage classrooms; how to assess students learning outcomes etc falls under the domain of competence. While use of the knowledge and skills in the classroom which include use of effective teaching strategies; planning and presenting lessons clearly; providing opportunities for students to be actively involved in learning; helping students connect new learning with previous learning; utilizing resources to achieve the objectives of the lesson; engaging and maintaining students’ interest in active learning; giving clear explanations to students misconceptions etc. falls under teachers’ performance. This suggests that a discussion of teachers’ effectiveness will necessarily involve these attributes of teachers’ competence (knowledge), and teacher classroom performance neatly linked together in such a manner that will guarantee the attainment of stated goals by the students. These attributes of teacher effectiveness (i.e. teacher’s competence or knowledge, and teacher’s classroom performance) are adopted by this study for use in mentoring the beginning chemistry teachers.
In this mentoring programme the beginning chemistry teacher is supposed to be attached to an experienced one who serves as role model, teacher, counselor, motivator and friend. This is all aimed at helping the mentee develop certain skills and competencies necessary to enable him function effectively. The mentee or beginning chemistry teachers in this study are those teachers within one to five years experience (1-5years), in keeping with Doyle in Oke (2000).
Research reports over the years have revealed underachievement of students in Science, Technology and Mathematics (STM), (Duguryil, 2004; Omole, 2002; Oke, 2000; Ojerinde, 1998). Some of the reasons they gave included, the qualification of science teachers, language problems, inadequate supply of equipment and materials for practical purpose, improper training in the subject leading to lack of relevant competencies and skills required in science teaching. Research reports have shown that, if teachers lack the teaching competencies and skills, students academic achievements will be influenced negatively (Ekpunobi, 2005; Oriaifo, 2003; Oke, 2000). Hence the feeling that, beginning teachers can be helped to overcome these problems and improve their teaching competencies and skills through mentoring programme. This study therefore advocates for the use of mentoring as an innovative approach in giving on the job training programme to beginning chemistry teachers by their experienced colleagues.
Other on-the-job training programmes are in use in our educational system as teacher support programmes for quality assurance. However, the problem of low level or underachievement of students in the STM and students failure in public examinations still persist, and this has been the concern of many educators today (Wokocha, 2002; Afe, 2006; Ivowi, 2007). Researchers have also reported this development from various parts of Nigeria (Oke, 2000; Oriafo, 2003; Ogunkola, 2002). The problem of this study therefore is: what is the extent to which mentoring can be employed as an effective training prorgamme for beginning chemistry teachers in order to help them develop teaching competencies required for effective teaching so as to curb the trend in students’ underachievement in chemistry?
Based on the above, this study was aimed at determining the effectiveness of mentoring as a training programme in helping beginning teachers develop the teaching competences and skills required in teaching chemistry in particular and STM in general. In order to effectively determine the efficacy of this programme, three hypotheses were formulated to guide the study, and were tested at 0.05 significant level. These included:
i. There will be no significant mean difference in the teaching competencies of beginning chemistry teachers attached to mentors and those not attached.
ii. There will be no significant mean difference in the teaching competencies of professional and non-professional chemistry teachers that were mentored.
iii. There will be no significant mean difference in the teaching competencies of chemistry teachers exposed to mentoring prorgamme due to levels of education qualification.
This study adopted a Quasi-experimental design. Specifically, the Non-randomised pretest-post-test control group design was used. This was because randomization of subjects was not involved, as most schools sampled did not have large number of chemistry teachers to sample from.
The population for the study consisted of all schools offering chemistry as well as their chemistry teachers in Benue state education Zone A. A sample of 34-chemistry teachers from 12-schools was purposively selected from 3 Local Government Areas in Zone A. By simple random sampling, schools were assigned to control and experimental groups. 6-schools each therefore composed the experimental and the control groups.
Chemistry Teachers Observation Schedule (CTOS) was used as an instrument in this study for data collection. CTOS was a two parts instrument. Part A consisted of 5-items which sought information on teachers qualifications, sex, name of school, teaching subject and number of years of teaching experience. Part B consisted of 20-items. A 5-point rating observation schedule was provided to facilitate the coding of observable and demonstrable behaviours of the beginning chemistry teacher while performing his instructional functions in the classroom. The 5-point rating observation schedule had points values attached as shown: very high competence (VHC)-5; High competence (HC)-4; Average competence (AC)-3: Low competence (LC)-2; very low competence (VLC)-1.
A beginning chemistry teacher was rated on the schedule between 5 and 1 depending on the level of the teacher’s demonstration of the said behavior. This rating format was adopted because it provides better record of different aspects of an observees performance as well as indicates where on the dimension been rated, the person’s behavior falls (Mehrens and Lehmann, 1994). From this coding a score determining the effectiveness or in effectiveness of a beginning chemistry teacher would be obtained by summing the scale values earned by the teacher for all the items on the instrument as observed. In this manner, the summated scale value from the rating of each chemistry teacher would stand as the final usage score for determining teaching effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the beginning chemistry teachers.
The face validation of CTOS was carried out by 3-science education experts, as well as 3-specialist in measurement and evaluation. These resource persons vetted the items in terms of clarity of words, and appropriateness of the items to the intended purpose. Kuder-Richardson (K-21) formula was used to establish the reliability coefficient of the instrument which yielded a value of 0.91.
This study comprised of two groups, experimental group (EG), and control group (CG) carried out in 12-schools in Benue state Education Zone A. the 12-schools were randomly assigned to experimental and control groups, and in each of the schools, the chemistry teachers found there were used (i.e. no randomization of subjects). And from the analysis of part A of CTOS, 22 chemistry teachers were identified as beginning teachers, while 12-were identified as veterans/experienced teachers. Two beginning teachers each were assigned to one veteran teacher (mentor) from the schools that composed the experimental group. Thus a total of 12-beginning chemistry teachers and 6-veterans composed the experimental group, while remaining 10-beginning teachers and 6-veterans constituted the control group.
Prior to treatment, the veterans involved were trained for 6-days on how to code the teaching behaviours of the beginning teachers on CTOS. After training the veterans, the experimental treatment commenced. On the first day of treatment, CTOS was used to observe all beginning chemistry teachers by their veterans or experienced colleagues in their respective schools and the pre-test data was generated through this exercise. This took only one day. Treatment (mentoring) of the experimental group was further carried out for 8 weeks after the pre-test.
During treatment with the experimental group, the mentors (veterans) observed the beginning teachers’ class teaching and code their observable and demonstrable behaviours while performing their instructional functions in the classroom. Support meetings were held after each encounter to give feedback and suggestions to the beginning chemistry teachers. This was all aimed at aiding them improve on the quality of their teaching effectiveness. This treatment was however, not given to the control group. These two groups (experimental and control) were post-tested after 8 weeks from the pre-test. The post-test data was obtained on re-administration of CTOS to the beginning chemistry teachers. Data collected from this exercise were analysed based on the hypotheses. As such, the first two hypotheses were analysed using t-test, while one-way ANOVA was used in the analysis of the third hypothesis at 0.05 significant level.
The following results were obtained after testing the hypotheses for the study.
Hypothesis One: There will be no significant mean difference in the teaching competencies of beginning chemistry teachers attached to mentors and those not attached to mentors.
Table 1: t-test of Teaching Competencies of Experimental and Control groups in Pre-test and Post-test.
|Test Groups SD № df t-cal t-crit|
|Pre-test EG 43.62 6.27 12 1.893 2.086
CG 43.59 6.19 10
Post-test EG 68.51 11.74 12 4.612 2.086
CG 54.40 9.52 10
The summary of data analysis for hypothesis one in Table 1 revealed that there was no significant difference in the teaching competencies of the subjects before the administration of treatment in both the experimental and control groups. The subjects were at the same competency level with means 43.67 and SD 6.27 for EG as against the mean of 43.59 and SD 6.19 for the CG in the pre-test. This gave the t-ratio of t-cal 1.893< 2.086 t-crit at 20 df and 0.05 level of significance. These results thus assure the equivalence of the two groups before treatment.
However, the post-test results showed that, there was a significant difference in the teaching competencies of beginning chemistry teachers exposed to mentoring and those not exposed to mentoring. This was reflected by the t-test value t-cal=4.612>2.086 t-crit at 20df and 0.05 level of significance.
The higher mean of the experimental group (68.51 SD 11.74) as against the lower mean of the control group (54.40 x SD 9.52) also indicated that, the EG who were mentored has improved greatly in teaching effectiveness than their non-mentored counterparts. This leads to the rejection of hypothesis one.
Hypothesis Two: There will be no significant mean difference in the teaching competencies of professional and non-professional chemistry teachers that were mentored.
Table 2: t-test of Teaching Competencies of the Professional and Non-Professional Chemistry Teachers exposed to mentoring.
|Test Variables SD № df t-cal t-crit|
(trained teachers) 62.85 8.21 8
10 2.76 1.812
(untrained teachers) 53.6 10.01 4
The results in Table 2 revealed that, there is a significant difference in the teaching competencies of professional and non-professional chemistry teachers exposed to treatment. The table showed a value of t-cal 2.76>1.812 t-crit at 10df and 0.05 level of significance. Also, the higher means of the professionally trained teachers (62.85 x SD 8.21) as against the lower mean of non-professionals (53.6 x SD 10.01), indicated that, trained teachers were more competent than the untrained ones. Hypothesis two was therefore rejected.
Hypothesis Three: There will be no significant mean difference in the teaching competencies of chemistry teachers exposed to mentoring programme due to levels of educational qualifications.
Table 3: Summary of one-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) of teaching effectiveness of beginning chemistry teachers mentored by qualification.
|Sources of SS df Ms F P(0.05)
|Within Group 17.80 2 8.90 2.48 4.26
Between Group 198.40 9 22.04
Total 216.2 11
The results of data analysis shown in Table 3 revealed that significance difference does not exist in the teaching effectiveness of chemistry teachers exposed to mentoring prorgamme due to educational qualifications. The result showed the calculated F-value of F-cal 2.48 < 4.26 F-crit at 2df numerator and 11 df denominator at 0.05 significance level. This result is as expected, as the treatment received during mentoring by teachers with lower qualification enhanced their teaching effectiveness as compared with their counterparts with higher qualifications. This indicates improvement in the quality of teaching of the teachers and further reinforces the feasibility of mentoring as perceived.
Discussion of Results
Results from this study revealed that beginning chemistry teachers who were exposed to mentoring programme significantly gained high level of teaching competencies than their counterparts who were not exposed to mentoring. This finding is in agreement with Brooks (1998), Wokocha (2002). This significant gain in high level of teaching competencies could be attributed to the number of interactions that existed between the mentors and the mentee. In interactions like this, the mentor gives feedback to the mentee on areas the mentee needs improvement as he (mentor) supervises his (mentee) teaching. Done this way for a given period of time, the mentee improves himself
in the teaching competencies required of him in his job.
It was also found from the study that, significant difference existed in the teaching competencies of professionally trained teachers over their non-professional counterparts. This result is in agreement with that of Oke (2000), who reported from his study that professional training given to teachers is to enable them develop some level of teaching competencies required for the teaching profession. In this regard, it can be argued that, the professionally trained teachers get actually placed in a better position to be able to handle problems such as discipline in the class, individual differences, ability to teach at the level of his students as well as selection and utilization of suitable textual and other instructional materials. He is trained to know when and how to vary his teaching method etc. Thus, if a teacher who is trained is able to handle these problems, coupled with his mastery of subject matter content, then he is likely to develop teaching competencies to a large extent unlike his professionally untrained counterpart. Hence the observed result.
This study also revealed that, significant difference does not exist in the teaching competencies of chemistry teachers exposed to mentoring programme due to levels of educational qualifications. This finding agrees with that of Veeman in Oke (2000) and Brooks (1998). This finding however, disagrees with those of Tytler (2002) and Afe (2006). These researchers reasoned that, the rudiments of teacher training and the philosophy behind it might be same. But the depth or intensity of training might vary from each level of teacher preparation. In this case therefore, people with higher educational qualifications should exhibit high level of teaching competencies as compared with people with low educational qualifications.
In as much as diverging views may exist, somebody with NCE certificate who goes through a mentoring programme as a quality control measure in teacher effectiveness might end up developing the teaching competencies as equally well as his counterpart with a university degree.
The researchers made the following conclusion based on the results of this study;
i. Beginning chemistry teachers who were exposed to mentoring programme had significantly developed high teaching competencies more than their counterparts who were not exposed to mentoring.
ii. Significant difference existed in the teaching competencies of professionally trained teachers over their non-professional counterparts involved in mentoring program.
iii. Significant difference does not exist in the teaching competencies of chemistry teachers exposed to mentoring programme due to level of education qualification.
Based on the findings of this study, the following recommendations were made:
i. Since mentoring has been used to improve the quality of teaching of the beginning teachers, it should therefore be used as a teacher support or on-the-job training programme for teachers.
ii. The non-professionally trained teachers should become professional by acquiring teaching certificate through training. This will aid them in acquiring the competencies needed for them in the teaching profession.
iii. Mentoring should be used as an on-the-job training programme for beginning chemistry teachers, so as to enhance their competencies in teaching
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