Determination of staff characteristics that should be assessed in future studies
By: Robert Stanley Grogan
Published: 1961
Uploaded: 10/19/2006
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: Attitudes, psychology, Rating of, teachers

The purpose of this study has been to select for future testing the staff characteristics which hold promise of being descriptive of a high caliber school staff. This has been done, the selection of factors having been made in terms of the procedures outlined in Chapter II. The factors were arranged in groups according to their directness or indirectness in relation to the educational process as it might be carried on at any given time by a particular group of professional staff members.
Personal status factors are considered least direct. They may be no more descriptive of professional school staff than they would be of any other group. Relationships between any of this group of factors and a quality criterion are likely indicators of an underlying attribute of which the factor is only a manifestation.
None-the-less personal factors may be predictors of a quality criterion in groups of school systems even though the relationship between the two variables cannot be described with any certainty. A number of such factors have been selected to be included in future studies because such a relationship has been found to exist. These factors are Inbreeding, Travel, and Literary Interests. As factors measured by discrete indices, they provide a clue to the kinds of people who can bring a wide range of experiences, both personal and vicarious, to their work with children and youth. Four indices from prior studies and four new indices appear as measures of these factors in the proposed questionnaire shown in Appendix G.
Two new factors have been added: the first, to measure academic success in college, and the second, to identify the type of undergraduate institution attended. The former is thought to be an aspect of motivation for success, general academic ability, and intelligence. The latter may reflect the effect of strength of academic and professional programs or intellectual stimulation, or the cultural influence to be found in varying institutions. Two personal factors in this group are retained although the preponderance of evidence indicates that they are unrelated to the quality criterion. They are Age and Sex. These factors were retained because they have been found to add to the predictive power when placed in multiple correlations with other factors. It may be desirable to assess certain other factors in terms of age or sex. In this event, these factors will have some interpretive value.
Professional factors are placed in succession between personal and practices factors in their proximity to the criterion. In most instances they are antecedent to the criterion and have been long assumed to have an effect on individual professional competence and hence, in the aggregate on the competence of the staff team. Six factors measured in prior Institute studies are included for future study. Length, Recency, and Breadth of Training have been consistently shown to have predictive value. Although the accumulated evidence is not definitive, it is clear that these factors should undergo further study. They reflect the degree to which persons undergoing training programs designed to prepare them for teaching are being well trained in terms of a stated criterion. Depth of Training, as reflected by professional courses in education, Practice Teaching, and Type of Advanced Training are included to provide investigators with as complete data as possible about a comprehensive training factor. Under the latter factor the per cent of staff with a MasterĂs Degree in Administration has been shown to be related to the adaptability criterion, and it may be that certain other areas of preparation will add to the power of this factor to predict a quality criterion. No relationship with the criterion has been established for Length of Experience, but it is retained because of the mixed nature of the evidence and because investigators may want to interpret other factors in terms of experience.
Professional Interest, as evidenced by reading professional books and magazines, and Number of School Systems Worked In have been carried over from prior studies as each has produced relationships sufficiently strong to merit further study. The latter factor may be more revealing when interpreted in terms of movement from state to state. Added factors are Membership in Professional Organizations, Prior Experience With Young People, Teaching Tradition in the Family, and Influences Affecting the Choice of Teaching as a Career. The first of these factors appears to represent the professionally curious, professional technique and knowledge seeker who brings new ideas and new methods into his classroom. The second reflects what may be an innate interest in and understanding of young people. The third and fourth factors are indices of the reasons teaching was selected as a life work and of the expectations teachers have held in regard to this work. On this basis and because of the evidence produced from other studies, it is postulated that each of these factors may be predictive of better teaching staffs.
The most direct group of factors are practices which are concurrent with the criterion. Professional Participation, Home Visits, Use of Community Resource Persons, and Parent-Teacher Conferences have been found to have some predictive value in past studies. As characteristics of staff which utilize sound practices they merit further study. Three new factors, Use of Audio-Visual Aids, Ability to Handle a Wide Range of Talent, and Length of Working Time are anticipated to have some relationship to a quality criterion.
The factors thus summarized were placed in a tentative draft of a proposed staff characteristics questionnaire. The proposed questionnaire was then submitted to a jury in the Adaptability Seminar at Teachers College. The seminar is made up of research assistants of the Institute of Administrative Research working under the supervision of the Executive Officer of the Institute and the Research Associates of the Metropolitan School Study Council, the Central School Study, and the Associated Public School Systems.
The research assistants are doctoral candidates with broad experience in teaching and administration in public school systems. Each of the seminar participants was asked to read and respond to the questionnaire items. In addition, they were asked to render opinions as to the range of response provided for and the clarity of each item. Where changes were indicated and a consensus existed as to the desirability of the change, it was made, and is reflected in the revised proposed questionnaire in Appendix G.
The proposed questionnaire is submitted as an instrument for measuring the staff characteristics of the total school staff. It incorporates the measures from prior studies which have been shown to be related to adaptability criteria. It also incorporates measures which other research has indicated to be potentially related. It is designed for programing on machine scoring cards, the numerical responses or check marks for a multiple choice response being easily punched on an IBM card. Since a staff characteristics questionnaire is to be used at some time in the future in concert with other data collection instruments its distribution and collection are matters of administrative decision in terms of the total investigation. It is recommended that complete anonymity be secured by having respondents return the completed questionnaire in a sealed envelope either to the school office or through the mail to the research organization conducting the study.
Finally, it is hypothesized that total staff characteristics measurement is a more productive approach to assessment of institutional quality than is the measurement of the characteristics of individual teachers. To conclude his report on extensive studies of the characteristics of individual teachers Ryans states:
The usefulness of these research findings for the prediction of teacher behavior will be greatest when the results are considered in an actuarial context, rather than in attempting highly accurate predictions for given individuals, and when there are taken into account variations in relationships found (a) among different classifications of teachers and (b) with the use of different approaches to the predicator-criterion relationship.
The purpose of staff characteristics research should be to delineate the factors which have the greatest predictive value for a clearly defined criterion. Because of the complexity of human nature, the complexity of the teaching task, and the great number of variables affecting the educational process it may never be possible to account for all of the variance of school system quality by staff measurement. However, if a manageable number of staff characteristics can account for a substantial portion of that variance and if they are relatively direct and discreet, they will have a great deal of utility in assessing and producing better staff teams.
Recommendations for Further Research
Staff characteristics data produced by the questionnaire proposed in this study should be related to criterion measures other than adaptability. Among these a product criterion in terms of pupil growth or achievement, and process criteria such as pupil behaviors and teacher behaviors should be used.
Research efforts should be directed toward discovering the relationships between total staff characteristics and total staff assessments of personality and attitude using already developed and validated instruments for this purpose.
Mort and Cornell have said, ˘The discovery of a high correlation between a factor and adaptability may be looked upon as only the beginning of a research project.÷ In this vein efforts should be made to continue the work of Eastmond in identifying individual teachers through the type of questionnaire proposed--in combination with supervisory ratings, pupil ratings, and classroom observations.

Sponsor: Willard S. Elsbree
Dissertation Committee: Bernard H. McKenna
Degree: Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University