Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Graduate School of Education


The present study, based on the Dunkin and Biddle (1974) and Biggs (1988; 1989) models of teaching, was designed to investigate the relationships between eight attributes of lecturers and the quality of lecturers' teaching performance, expressed as a function of student evaluations of teaching. The eight attributes were teaching qualifications, attitudes toward effective teaching, language background, gender, academic rank, level of academic degree, tertiary teaching experience and academic discipline. Among these, teaching qualifications and attitudes toward teaching were of principal interest.

The target group for the study comprised three fourths (N= 294) of the fulltime academic staff of the University of Wollongong in 1994, of whom 176 (60%) participated in the first phase of the study. In this phase, two surveys completed by academic staff and extant data from more than 20,000 student ratings, covering 548 subjects, were used to examine the essential relationships. Subsequently, in the second phase of the study in early 1997, a semi-structured interview was undertaken with 25 lecturers who had participated in the first phase to provide more insights into the influence of the eight lecturers' attributes on teaching performance.

Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was employed to determine whether the lecturers' teaching performance differed significantly on the eight attributes. Then Multiple Linear Regression Analysis was employed to examine the combined and separate effects of the lecturers' attributes on teaching performance.

The inferential analyses in the first phase of the study indicated a significant correlation between the eight attributes and lecturers' teaching performance, accounting for 34 per cent of the variance. Of the eight attributes, language background, attitudes toward teaching, being at the rank of associate professor and being a member of Faculties of Arts and Creative Arts were the significant predictors for lecturers' teaching performance. Teaching qualifications was just short of statistical significance, (p <.06).

In the second phase of the study the interviewees indicated that the following four attributes were the most influential on the teaching performance: having a positive attitude toward teaching, teaching experience, holding teaching qualifications and academic degree.

This study demonstrated a significant relationship between lecturers' attitudes toward effective teaching and their teaching performance. Lecturers who rated higher on the attitude scale, tended to rate highly on student ratings of their teaching. Having a positive attitude toward teaching was also nominated as the most influential attribute by academic staff. These findings suggest that, if lecturers' attitudes toward teaching are stimulated, there might be an enhancement of their teaching performance.

Another significant finding was that, where the first languages of the lecturers and students are different, lecturers may be able to enhance their teaching performance by improving their language and communication abilities. Universities may need to facilitate these developments through special pre-service and in-service interventions, and also perhaps a reconsideration of their staff selection criteria.

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