Prospective teachers’ professional skill needs: a Q method analysis

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Published: 
April, 2021

Source: Teacher Development, 25:2, 196-214

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article aims at examining the professional skill needs of prospective teachers.
In the context of this general objective, answers were sought to the questions of:
What are the common opinions of prospective teachers about their professional skills?
Which items come to the forefront in the professional skill needs of prospective teachers?
The significance and the originality of this study come from adapting a research method used in other disciplines in educational sciences and determining the prominent elements of the professional skills based on prospective teachers’ perceptions.

Method
In this study, prospective teachers’ professional skills needs were determined by Q methodology.
Q method analysis is a research method that allows the measurement of approach, attitudes and perceptions of the participants (Brown 1996).
Q method analysis uses the advantages of both qualitative and quantitative methods (Brown 1996).
In the data analysis process of this method, different statistical analyses are used to find out the common points in the responses of the participants.
In this method, a correlation coefficient is calculated based on the participants’ answers.
The strength of Q methodology is that it can determine whether participants’ perceptions, attitudes and beliefs can be associated under a broader theme, and it reveals participants’ common ideas; moreover, it can sort these ideas in order of priority (Brown 1996).

Participants
This research involved 36 prospective teachers who are in senior class in different domains of the Faculty of Education in Nevsehir Hacı Bektaş Veli University in Turkey in the fall semester of the 2018–19 academic year.
The data of the current study were collected from primary school, mathematics, science, English, Turkish and social studies prospective teachers.

Implementation for Q methodology
Within the scope of the research, 20 items which consisted of dimensions of planning of education and teaching, creating learning environments, managing the teaching and learning process, assessment and evaluation were prepared.
The data were collected between December 2018 and February 2019.
When the findings obtained from the prospective teachers’ opinions regarding their professional skill needs are evaluated in general, it can be concluded that the prospective teachers generally perceive their professional skills as being sufficient.
According to the findings of the research, it was found that prospective teachers mostly felt themselves to be sufficient in terms of the dimension of creating learning environments.
This was followed by the dimension of managing the teaching and learning process.
Similarly, in Seferoglu’s (2005) study to determine the teaching skills of prospective teachers, it is found that prospective teachers’ abilities to prepare a learning environment and manage the teaching process were high.
However, it was determined in the study that the prospective teachers’ need for improvement was mostly in the dimension of assessment and evaluation.
Assessment and evaluation activities allow teachers and students to evaluate themselves, to provide feedback on teaching and learning activities, and to change where they have problems (Black et al. 2003).
This situation requires teachers to be individuals who are equipped with the essential knowledge and skills about assessment and evaluation methods and techniques (Goodwin and Kosnik 2013).
Therefore, the results obtained in this study reveal the needs of prospective teachers to develop their professional skills in assessment and evaluation.
When the Z values and the order of importance of the items were evaluated, it was found that prospective teachers perceived themselves as sufficient mostly in ensuring the active participation of the students in the learning process and in preparing the appropriate material for the students’ requirements.
In other words, in these dimensions the vast majority of prospective teachers need fewer professional skills than in other dimensions.
On the other hand, it was determined that prospective teachers mostly needed training to provide appropriate education to students with special needs.
A comprehensive survey conducted by the OECD (2009) with participants from 23 different countries showed that the education of students with special needs was the personal development dimension that was needed the most by the teachers.
This result obtained in the study may be an indication that prospective teachers are not ready to follow a strategy for the education of children with special needs or gifted children.
Because pre-service training for special education in Turkey is limited to a single theoretical course given only in the final year, it may cause prospective teachers to need professional development in this issue.
For this reason, the course contents presented in this subject in the curriculum need to be revised, improved with more effective methods and techniques and focused on practical activities.
In addition, it was determined in the study that some prospective teachers need educational support about information and communication technologies.
In Kavas and Bugay’s (2009) study, 40% of the prospective teachers stated that the technology education at their university was inadequate.
Considering that some of Turkey’s educational reforms focus on technological changes, the most important issue must be improving and supporting teachers in accordance with these technological changes and developments (Gokmenoglu, Clark, and Kiraz 2016).
Therefore, teacher education programs need to be revised in order to make prospective teachers feel more competent about using information and communication technologies, how technology can be used effectively in lessons and how technology can be integrated into classes.
The findings of the study also parallel the TALIS 2013 report conclusions (OECD 2014).
According to the TALIS 2013 report, there are five areas or topics for which higher percentages of teachers have expressed the most need, namely
(1) teaching students with special needs;
(2) ICT skills for teaching;
(3) new technologies in the workplace;
(4) student behavior and classroom management; and (5) teaching in a multicultural or multilingual setting (OECD 2014).
In Europe too, these five topics are cited by the highest percentages of teachers who express ‘high need’ levels (Eurydice 2015).

References
Black, P., C. Harrison, C. Lee, B. Marshall, and D. Wiliam. 2003. Assessment for Learning: Putting It into Practice. New York: Open University Press.
Brown, S. R. 1996. “Q Methodology and Qualitative Research.” Qualitative Health Research 6 (4): 561–567
Eurydice. 2015. The Teaching Profession in Europe: Practices, Perceptions, and Policies. Eurydice Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
Gokmenoglu, T., C. M. Clark, and E. Kiraz. 2016. “Professional Development Needs of Turkish Teachers in an Era of National Reforms.” Australian Journal of Teacher Education 41 (1): 113–126
Goodwin, A. L., and C. Kosnik. 2013. “Quality Teacher Educators = Quality Teachers? Conceptualizing Essential Domains of Knowledge for Those Who Teach Teachers.” Teacher Development 17 (3): 334–346
Kavas, A. B., and A. Bugay. 2009. “Perceptions of Prospective Teachers about Deficiencies of Pre-Service Teacher Education and Suggestions.” Pamukkale University Journal of Education Faculty 25 (25): 13–21.
OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 2014. TALIS 2013 Results: An International Perspective on Teaching and Learning. Accessed 08 November 2018. https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/talis-2013-results_9789264196261-en
OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 2009. “The Professional Development of Teachers.” Accessed 8 November 2018.
https://www.oecd.org/berlin/ 43541636.pdf
Seferoglu, S. S. 2005. “A Study on Teaching Competencies of Teacher Candidates.” Paper presented at the International Conference on Education, National University of Singapore, Singapore, December 6–9. 

Updated: Aug. 01, 2021
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