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VAMboozled!: The Utility of Student Perception Surveys to Give Teachers Feedback: An Introduction to the My Teacher Questionnaire (Guest Post by Rikkert van der Lans)

This is another guest post for the followers of this blog.

In short, Rikkert van der Lans of the University of Groningen’s Department of Teacher Education, emailed me a few months ago about an article I published with one of my PhD students titled “Student perception surveys for K-12 teacher evaluation in the United States: A survey of surveys.” In this piece, he was interested in our review of the “many untested [student] questionnaires that are applied by schools [to evaluate teachers],” and “thought [I] might also be interested [in his and his colleagues’] work around the ‘My Teacher’ questionnaire.” Apparently, it has been applied globally across 15 different countries and, importantly, not only given it is research-based but also researched with psychometric characteristics actually warranting its use. Hence, I asked him to write a guest post, particularly for those of you who, post the U.S.’s passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA; see prior posts about ESSA here and here), are looking to implement a researched/validated instrument for student evaluation purposes. Below is his post. 

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Thank you Audrey Amrein-Beardsley for inviting me to write this blog post. I live in the Netherlands and despite living across the Atlantic, I recognize many of the issues identified by you and your coauthor with student surveys, including their increased use, their novelty, and the small knowledge base about how to use them (reliably and validly). In my writing, I mentioned our own validated survey: the “My Teacher” questionnaire (MTQ) which currently is in use in 15 countries,1 with English and Spanish2 versions also having been developed. 

In many ways, the MTQ is similar to other survey instruments, which is a good thing but not much of a selling point. So, let me introduce some evidence of validity unique to the MTQ and related to the topics (1) formative feedback and (2) use of multiple measures. Unique to the MTQ is the evidence in support of an interpretation of scores in terms of teachers’ stage of development (for details see these publications 345). I have myself used the MTQ to give feedback (face-to-face) with over 200 teachers, and what they generally appreciate most of the MTQ is that the outcomes can tell them: 1) what they have already achieved (e.g., ”you are skilled in classroom management and in structuring front class explanations”); 2) where they are now (e.g., “your skill in interactive teaching methods is currently developing”), and; 3) what according to our evidence is the most logical next step for improvement (e.g., focus on training and/or ask advice from colleagues about how to promote classroom interaction on the subject matter, like collaborative group work or having student explain topics to each other).     

The MTQ has been developed to complement the International Comparative Analysis of Learning and Teaching (ICALT) observation instrument. The MTQ provides reliable information about teachers’ teaching quality 6, 7, but it is less sensitive to indicate lesson-to-lesson fluctuations in teaching quality. Therefore, the MTQ is valuable to set professional development goals for teachers, and it is advised to use the ICALT observation instrument to coach and train teachers.

The most recent evidence indicates that the MTQ can be used to inform ICALT observers 8. For example, if the MTQ outcomes in class A suggest that a beginning teacher A “is skilled in classroom management and is currently developing skill in front class explanation” then observers visiting teacher A in class A can be prompted to attend to issues with in front class explanations only. This type of use is only warranted when instruments are administered within the same class, however. 

Both the MTQ and the ICALT instruments are freely available for use. The ICALT is published open access here 9. The MTQ is available upon request by mailing to directielo@rug.nl. Any questions can also be sent to this email address.

Again thank you for this opportunity. 

Rikkert van der Lans

University of Groningen

Department of Teacher Education

The Netherlands

Research gate profile: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Rikkert_Van_Der_Lans2

LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rikkert-van-der-lans-986a2910/

Twitter: @RikkertvdLans

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Audrey Amrein-Beardsley

Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, a former middle- and high-school mathematics teacher, received her Ph.D. in 2002 from Arizona State University in the Division of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies with an emphasis on Research Methods. Awarded tenure in 2010 as an ASU Presidential Exemplar, she is currently a Professor in the Mary Lou...

Rikkert van der Lans

Rikkert M. van der Lans is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Groningen, Department of Teacher Education, in the Netherlands.