Source: Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 44, No. 1, 66–79, 2016
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This research investigates Taiwanese preservice students’ academic quality in comparison with their nonteaching peers.
The sample of this study includes two groups: 775 preservice students, who registered in teacher education programs in their universities in Taiwan, and 775 non-preservice students.
The authors used the Higher Education Database System (HEDS) to choose a representative national sample of undergraduate students in Taiwan.
Data were collected through the participants' entry scores and college grades, including the following: test scores at college entry (in the year of 2003), mid-point grades at junior year (2005) and final grades at graduation (2006).
The findings show that preservice students demonstrated higher academic quality than their non-preservice counterparts, as they had better entry test scores, mid-point grades and final grades.
The authors provide explanations of the gap in performance between the two groups within the broader sociocultural context of Taiwanese society.
First, the authors found that the majority of the teaching programs adopt “academic quality” as one of the major criteria in selecting their students. Many programs set a minimum academic standing as a threshold for student application when they recruit students from various programs/departments within the university. Only students who meet the academic standards are able to pass the screening processes to be considered for admission to the program.
Furthermore, high selection standards may also create a motivational force to push those students who aspire to be selected into teacher education programs to work harder than their peers during the college years.
Second, the Taiwanese government adopted policies that provide teachers with generous compensation and benefit packages that provide teachers with generous compensation and benefit packages.
These benefits include: the salary for a new teacher with a master’s degree is 40% higher than the average salary for graduates with similar qualifications working in other occupations.
Although teachers have 2-month summer and 1-month winter vacations, they are paid a full year’s salary, with an additional 2.5-month annual bonus.
Teachers also enjoy a handsome government-funded pension program.
The authors argue that cultural beliefs imbedded in the Confucian cultural heritage may also play a role in constructing favorable teaching conditions. In the Chinese tradition, teachers are highly respected because they are perceived as learned scholars who transmit knowledge and skills essential for living. Today, teachers still enjoy relatively high social status.
The authors argue that general provisions by the government for teachers in combination with a Chinese/Confucian cultural tradition may have created a favorable environment for attracting talented young people into teacher education programs.
The findings of this study can provide the implications for teacher education internationally.
The authors argue that raising entry standards for teacher education programs
not only guarantee the quality of students entering teacher training programs but also surround the teaching profession with an aura of status, selectivity and prestige. These standards attract those young men and women who aim high for themselves and for their futures.
Furthermore, the authors claim that provision of handsome compensation packages and social respect for teachers may be among the reasons for attracting high-quality Taiwanese college students into teaching.
In addition, respect for teachers for what they do may also positively contribute to recruiting high-calibre individuals into teaching.