A Comparative Analysis of High School Students’ Perceptions of Classroom Quality in Traditional Pathway and Second Career Teachers’ Classrooms




Barna, Eric G.

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The purpose of this study was to determine if the students of teachers who are career switchers perceive a difference in classroom quality when compared to students taught by teachers who are from a traditional pathway. Additionally, this study investigated whether career switchers report that they plan instruction differently than traditional pathway teachers. A mixed methods design was used to compare students’ perceptions of teacher quality as defined by the Student Perception of Classroom Quality (SPOCQ) (Gentry and Owen, 2004) in the classes of four pairs of high school teachers in a small and diverse suburban school district who were matched on content. Four of the teachers gained entry into the classroom through a traditional academy-based pathway, and four came through a career-switcher program. Their students were surveyed using the SPOCQ while teachers completed the Teacher Experience Survey (TES) and were interviewed using the Teacher Interview Guide (TIG). Major findings of this study indicated that students of traditional pathway teachers perceived higher levels of appeal (p = .003), challenge (p < .001), choice (p =.015) and meaningfulness (p < .001) as measured by the SPOCQ. Additionally, traditional pathway teachers reported they were less reliant on the textbook and were more likely to rate their master’s program as relevant professional development. The results of the study suggest that future studies of teacher pathways need to explore the effects of the pathway on their graduates’ classroom quality in order to ensure that the teachers who are being placed in the classroom are perceived by their students as creating effective classroom environments.



Career Switchers, Classroom Quality, Traditional Preparation, Alternate Pathways