Degree Name

Doctor of Education - University of Wollongong


Faculty of Education


Warren, Stanley Ross. 2000. Quality Teaching and its Characteristics. A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree Doctor of Education (Faculty of Education), at the University of Wollongong, N S W.

In 1994 the OECD implemented an international study of 'Quality Teaching' in an effort to examine the policies and practices that led to an improvement in the quality of teaching. In that study the OECD identified five characteristics that formed the basis for studying the phenomena in eleven countries. The outcome of the work was an extensive report that added to the understandings of what needed to be done to develop in all teachers, aspects of 'quality'.

This study aimed to elucidate the characteristics of quality teachers. Following the successful implementation of an inservice course in the South Coast Region of NSW entitled "Quality Teaching", there was a strong interest in the practices demonstrated by classroom practitioners.

Centred on naturalistic enquiry, this study presents four case studies of classroom teachers. It takes the characteristics of quality teachers outlined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) and seeks to determine if there is congruence between those characteristics and the work of the four participants in the case studies. The research was carried out using the qualitative methods of interview and observation. After each process, the data collected was clarified in post-observation conferences with the participant and in sessions when the content of interviews was verified and validated. To identify participants for the study, teachers in a variety of different schools were interviewed in terms of their understandings of 'Quality Teaching'. They were asked to identify people they believed demonstrated quality teaching in their day-to-day practice. If the people identified had attended the "Quality Teaching Inservice Course" in South Coast Region, they were considered to be eligible to participate in the study. Participants were selected on the basis of school size and eventually became self-nominating as participants.

The review of the literature confirmed the aspects of quality that are examined in the study, emphasising the complexity of examining the practice of people in the teaching role. It enabled an understanding of each of the five characteristics: Knowledge of Curriculum Areas and Content; Pedagogical Skill; Reflection; Empathy, and Managerial Competence.

The findings confirm the congruence between four of the characteristics and these people's work. In the case of the fifth area, 'Empathy with the Student', the findings suggest that these people do not regard this 'relationship-based' aspect of their work as the concept of empathy that is defined in the literature. The participants are sensitive to the needs of the students in their classes, but the communicaton of that sensitivity is focused on positive statements and encouragement rather than the nature of the empathic understanding defined by the literature. This does not decrease the professionalism of any of these teachers nor does it diminish the quality of their work. They are highly committed people who demonstrate both the art and the science of teaching in truly professional ways.

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.