Background of the Study
Teachers have a direct responsibility to shape a student’s academic performance, and are the most important school based factor in their education (Rockoff, 2004; Rivkin, Hanushek Kain 2005; Aaronson, Barrow & Sander, 2007). This is why it is important to examine which teacher characteristics may be related to student academic performance.
Considering which teacher characteristics produce the best student academic performance at the Senior Secondary School level can help the school in identifying unique ways to increase student performance with the teacher resources available to them.
Excellence in academic life demands high level of intelligence; but in addition to intelligence, recent studies have indicated that there are other factors that can be useful predictors of academic performance (Busato, Prins, Elshout, & Hamaker, 1999, 2000; Chamorro Premuzic & Furnham, 2003). One of the factors is teachers’ characteristics.
Teachers cannot be undermined in the discussion of knowledge transfer or education in every way. Teachers are very instrumental to the transfer of knowledge. Ali (2009) observes that there is a statistically significant relationship between teachers’ characteristics and student academic performance.
According to Thompson, Greer, & Greer (2005) there are twelve characteristics that are central to what students conceptualize as good teaching which connect to the caring for students, both academically and personally and strengthen recent indicators for academic performance.
These characteristics are: displaying fairness, having a positive outlook being prepared, using a personal touch, respecting students, maintaining high expectations. Possessing a sense of humor, possessing creativity, admitting mistakes, and being forgiving, showing compassion and developing sense of belonging for students.
As humans, we possess an ingrained sense of fair play. We react negatively whenever we are dealt with by someone in a manner that violates what we think constitutes fairness in a situation. Any sign of favoritism, or lack of fairness, can leave scars that last a lifetime.
Borich (2000) suggests that effective teachers are those who use meaningful verbal praise to get and keep students actively participating in the learning process.
Effective teachers are generally positive minded individuals who believe in the success of their students as well as their own ability to help students achieve.
Competence and knowledge of the content area being taught is something that makes a well-prepared teacher more likely to take time during lessons to notice and attend to behavioral matters, effective use of instructional time, student participation and thereby, academic success.
Teachers must show interest in their students, as this promotes bonding. Teachers with a sense of humor make learning fun. If a teacher has a quick wit and the ability to break the ice in difficult situations with the use of humor, students recognize the strength reflected in these teachers, as they provide a wonderful model for how to deal with embarrassing situations effectively.
Students remember unusual things that their teachers did in their teaching. They remember how it related to a subject matter being taught which captivated their interest.
Irvine (2001) suggests that students defined teachers who set limits, provides structure, held high expectations and pushed them to achieve as their favorite teachers. Generally, these behaviors affect student learning. Working to include these traits into everyday teaching routines will ensure that students have a positive school experience as well as a successful one.
Rice (2003) recognized five broad categories of teacher attributes that appear to contribute to teacher quality. They are experience, preparation programs and degrees, type of certification, course work taken in preparation for the profession, and teachers’ own test scores.
Performance as a variable is linked to the teachers’ experience, resulting from the ideas generated in the course of learning, training, acquired classroom management skills/expertise. Teachers’ experience has a significant effect on student performance in the sense that students taught by more experienced teachers achieve at a higher level, because their teachers have mastered the content and gained classroom management skills/expertise to deal with different types of classroom problem (Gibbson, 1997); therefore, academic performance of students is dependent on the characteristics that a teacher portray.
According to Mumare & Philip (1981), experience has a significant positive effect on the connection that exist between the quality of a teacher and the academic performance of students cannot be over emphasized because they both work hand in glove in showcasing how quality education could be enshrined in an academic process and this could be inferred from the words of Strong (2007); that asserted a positive relationship between teachers’ verbal ability and students’ achievement.
Parents are keen at seeing their children enroll and graduate from prestigious educational institutions as most compete to offer their best educational programs and be at the fore front of academic excellence. People who are directly involved in the students’ academic life are the teachers who provide help to these students.