Understanding the dynamic nature of teacher/classroom effects on educational outcomes: a cross-cultural investigation

White, Elaine Karyn. 2017. Understanding the dynamic nature of teacher/classroom effects on educational outcomes: a cross-cultural investigation. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The idea that teachers differ substantially in their ability to motivate and educate students has pervaded educational research for decades. While the education system, and teachers in particular, provide an enormously important service, many people hold teachers almost entirely responsible for differences between classes and for individual students’ performance. The belief that the ‘teacher effect’ is such that students would perform better or worse given a specific teacher remains unfounded, as true experimental design is difficult to apply. The present thesis, employing pseudo-experimental methods, investigated potential teacher/classroom effects on several educational outcomes. The five empirical chapters in this thesis explored whether students’ motivation, academic performance, and perception of learning environment were affected by their teachers and/or classmates, as reflected in average differences between classes. Investigations were conducted longitudinally and cross-culturally, in three different education systems using data from four samples. Two samples were secondary school students aged 10 to 12 years, in their first year of secondary education, from the UK and Russia, and two samples were large representative developmental twin studies, the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) from the UK, and the Quebec Newborn Twin Study (QNTS) from Quebec, Canada. Average differences were observed across classrooms and teacher groups, effect sizes ranging from 2% to 25%. The results suggested a weak influence of current subject teacher that was difficult to disentangle from several confounding factors, such as peer influences, selection processes, individual differences in ability and perceptions, teacher characteristics and evocative processes. The findings suggest that student outcomes, rather than being predominantly influenced by teacher effects, are under multiple influences. Overall, the results call for caution in considering ‘added value’ or ‘teacher effect’ measures as valid criteria for current education policies that affect teacher promotion and employment prospects.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



Teacher/classroom effects, academic achievement, mathematics, geography, classroom environment, student-teacher relations, motivation, subject anxiety, cross-cultural research, longitudinal design

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > InfantLab


30 September 2017

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

24 Oct 2017 11:08

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:40



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