01 SES 02 C, Evaluation and Teacher Stress
Teaching evaluations can contribute to teachers’ professional development as an informational element for self-evaluation and reflection upon one’s own teaching practices (Darling-Hammond, Wise, & Pease, 1983; Delvaux et al., 2013). However, undesired outcomes of teacher evaluations, such as unnecessary stress, are often used as arguments against their implementation (Kelly, Ang, Chong, & Hu, 2008). For teaching evaluation systems to actually contribute to teachers’ professional development, follow-up conversations with a supervisor can be part of the appraisal system (Akershus County, 2013, 2014). The aim of this work is to explore the links between teachers’ perceptions of the purpose of teacher evaluations, the perceptions of communication with the management and recognition of the supervisor who undertakes the follow-up session with the teacher after the evaluation, in addition to teachers’ condemnation of the relevance of the follow-up session and of stress related to the evaluation process.
Two overarching research questions drive this article:
1) Which antecedents contribute to teachers’ perceptions of the usefulness of the follow-up session?
2) Which antecedents contribute to teachers’ perceptions of stress related to the teaching evaluation process?
Statistical associations between four independent and two dependent variables were tested using structural equation modelling. The independent variables were:
1) teachers’ perceptions of the purpose of teaching evaluations as developmental
2) teachers’ perceptions of the purpose of teaching evaluations as control
3) teachers’ recognition of the person undertaking the follow-up session
4) teachers’ perceptions of the communication with the management as clear
The two dependent variables were:
1) teachers’ perceptions of the usefulness of the follow-up session
2) teachers’ reported levels of stress related to teaching evaluations
Data were gathered from 217 teachers at four upper secondary schools in the district of Norway with the most systematic implementation of teacher evaluations. In 2011, the OECD reported a lack of systematic assessment of teachers in Norway. In addition, TALIS 2013 highlighted the fact that Norwegian teachers receive little feedback on their professional practices compared to other groups of employees (OECD, 2014). How teaching evaluations are carried out and used varies significantly in Norway. Pupils have been able to assess teachers’ instructional performance via anonymous surveys since 2010 in the district from which we collected these data (Akershus County, 2014). The expressed goal of teacher evaluations in Norway, to function as a tool for teachers’ professional development, is quite unique and makes Norway an especially interesting case for studies of teacher evaluation systems (Akershus County, 2013).
Teaching evaluations in the area of our data collection are carried out as follows: teachers are involved in the process of picking out which students will evaluate which teachers. The students fill out a survey to express their views about the relevant teachers’ teaching practices. After a certain number of days, the teachers receive the assessment results and are expected to present these results to the class that evaluated them. There is a clear expectation that students should be invited to elaborate on and explain the results, in order to contribute to their teachers’ interpretation of the results and to the teacher’s development. The last formal step in the assessment process is that every teacher has a conversation with his or her department head about the results and about how to improve his or her teaching (Akershus County, 2013, 2014). It is this follow-up conversation, as well as teachers’ reported levels of stress related to the evaluation process, that constitutes this article’s area of focus.
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