Date of Award

1-1-1993

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Education

Faculty

Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Barry Sheridan

Abstract

This study investigates teacher attitude towards a teaching innovation, Direct Instruction. In particular, it is concerned with what aspects of this teaching strategy affect a teacher's decision to implement the method and the relationship between experience with Direct Instruction and teacher attitude. A repeated measures, pretest-posttest design was employed to assess participants' attitude before and after viewing a video demonstrating the teaching method, Direct Instruction. The 40 item Attitude towards Direct Instruction (AD I) scale comprised 30 items derived from a questionnaire designed by Proctor (1989) in addition to ten new items created especially for the study. The scoring function comprised the familiar Likert rating format using five response categories; Strongly Agree, Agree, Not Sure (NS), Disagree, and Strongly Disagree. Data was collected from two sample groups. The first group, or 'change' sample, comprised 144 primary trained teachers and was used to assess the degree of attitude change between the pretest and posttest occasion. The second group, referred to as the 'control sample', comprised 275 third year education students at Edith Cowan University and was included in the study to assess the influence of the NS response category on the precision of the measuring instrument as well as forming part of the calibration sample. Item analyses were conducted on the ADI scale using the extended model of Rasch, an important measurement model for assessing the psychometric properties of items with ordered categories. Due to the nature of the change sample, which included teachers with no experience with Direct Instruction, it was necessary to include the NS category despite the knowledge that it can cause problems of a measurement nature. By assessing threshold order across all items it was shown that the NS category could be employed during the initial data collection but that any responses obtained had to be suppressed and changed to missing data in the data file if the subsequent analyses were to be effective. A final instrument comprising 19 items demonstrated sound psychometric properties with high reliability and person separation capabilities; Graphical procedures, which took account of the special features of the measurement model, were used to investigate item bias (as part of the calibration of the instrument) as well as attitude change. In both cases, the plots provided an effective and simple interpretation of information as inconsistencies amongst both items and people were readily identified. The relationship between attitude change, as a result of the demonstration of Direct Instruction, and prior teacher experience with the method was also obtained from an examination of plot shifts across the calibration range. Generally, teachers were more likely to have a negative attitude towards Direct Instruction if they had never taught the method. They perceived Direct Instruction to be too teacher oriented and highly structured. On the other hand, teachers were more likely to have a positive attitude towards Direct Instruction if they had had the opportunity to use it. They saw Direct Instruction as effective, easy to use, and versatile.

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