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Are the teachers actually so negative towards their students’ qualifications?

On January 10th, NOKUT launched a report based on the Teacher Survey (Underviserundersøkelsen), which received much attention in national media. From headlines in newspapers and other media we were led to believe that a large part of teachers were particularly dissatisfied with the qualifications students entering their programs had to show for themselves. But is this actually what the report says?

In the questionnaire teachers were asked to state the degree to which they agree to the following statement: “In this subject, many students lack necessary qualifications.” Answers were given on a five-point scale ranging from 1 (very little degree) to 5 (very large degree). Instead of reporting mean score (2.9) and conclude as they did, media should instead have reported frequencies. According to the report, 32 % of the teachers had replied 1 or 2 on the scale (very little/little degree), while 22 % had replied 4 or 5 (large/very large degree). The rest (47 %) had replied 3 (to some degree). Where the line for “concern” should be drawn, is of course, a question that is open for discussion. Personally, I think there is reason to point out that one third of the teachers did not (or only to a little degree) agreed with the statement. The fact that many reply that they “somewhat” agree is as it has always been. Show me one study which shows that teachers are perfectly happy and do not believe new students are not as qualified as they ought to be (or as “we” were)! One should, in other words, be careful in drawing firm conclusions about students’ qualifications based on teachers’ more or less subjective understandings. Knowing what we know about entrance qualifications, it is interesting to observe that teachers in medicine use the whole scale (mean 2.5). Here one may choose to think that there must be something wrong with (some of) the teachers! What is it that they have to complain about?

Professor Arild Raaheim, Department of Education, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen


A full text (in Norwegian) may be read in Khrono:

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