The Ordinal Nature of QTII
Effective Teaching Focus Areas
by David P. Miller
This paper addresses the focus areas a
teacher should master to become more effective, and the sequence in
which these areas should be addressed to achieve maximum improvement in
The focus areas, in order, are
Objective-based Planning, Teaching, and Assessment, Planning and
Teaching for Maximized Affective Development, Designing Course and
School Curricula for Maximum Accomplishment, Counseling and Academic
Advising, and Textbook Selection and Authoring. Not all instructors will
need to work in all areas, but learning effective competencies in all
areas will help all aspects of teaching.
In the following paragraphs, we address each
area, briefly describing what it is, why it's important, and why it has
been placed in its ordinal position in the sequence.
1. Objective-based PTA. Students always perform
better when they know what's expected of them. The best way to let them
know is to give them well-written and well-designed objectives.
PLANNING: During the planning phase of any course, you will
determine the precise topics the students are to learn, the order in
which they learn them, and how well they are to learn each one, stated
as a specific level of learning.
TEACHING: The actual teaching of a particular topic will be
much more successful, all other factors being equal, when (a) the
teacher has a clearly defined lesson objective; (b) the students
have a clear picture of what they are to learn; (c) the subject
material builds appropriately on what the student already knows; and
(d) the developmental demands on the student take into account
the horizontal decalage and internalization needs of all learners.
Objective-based teaching incorporates all these considerations.
ASSESSMENTS: The three primary purposes of assessments are
(a) to determine teaching effectiveness; (b) to provide
feedback to the students as to how well they are doing in the course;
and (c) to provide a basis for assigning grades. Assessments that
are not based on clearly stated objectives are of questionable
validity. Without stated objectives, you will be unable to accurately
determine the effectiveness of your teaching, the feedback the
students receive will be tenuous and unfocused, and the grades you
assign could be based on non-scientific measures. Objective-based
assessments are critical to effective teaching.
Why This Is First. A teacher has control or influence over
many things that impact teaching effectiveness. The area of planning,
teaching, and assessments of a course is the one area over which a
teacher has direct and immediate control, and therefore it is the one
area in which changes will have immediate impact. Additionally, this
area is mentioned by a number of scholars as being the number one area
that needs improvement to have the greatest positive impact on teaching
effectiveness. Consequently, Objective-based Planning, Teaching, and
Assessment occupies the top position in QTII's improvement of teaching
effectiveness sequence of focus areas.
2. Affective Development. This area addresses
student attitudes, and what teachers can do to bring students to higher
levels in the Affective Development Taxonomy. This is arguably the most
important topic for student learning, since students with the proper
attitude can learn effectively in the face of abysmal teaching. However,
comparatively little research has been done to scientifically determine
methods to improve teaching effectiveness in the Affective Domain. Just
as in the cognitive domain, one cannot directly observe affective
development, but can observe only a person's behavior that indicates
Why This Is Second. Because of the critical importance of this
area, but also because of the difficulty in guiding and assessing
development therein, Affective Development is second in the QTII
improvement of teaching effectiveness sequence.
3. Curriculum. The third area of QTII focus for
improving teaching effectiveness is curriculum. Essentially, this means
taking a very close look at what each course is teaching and making sure
that what's being taught is what needs to be taught. There are four
areas of focus in curriculum in higher education: career relevance,
degree relevance, course sequencing, and course topics. Many of these
areas are also applicable outside the area of higher education; which
ones are applicable depend on the venue of the education.
Career relevance is an indicator of how well a given degree
is relevant to its intended career field.
Degree relevance is a measure of how well all courses
required for a degree are relevant to that degree.
Course sequencing is a measure of how well the courses in a
particular series follow in sequence of connectivity and continuity.
Course topics relate to how well the scheduled topics for a
particular course, with appropriate consideration for target levels of
learning required, starting knowledge level of students, and the
horizontal decalage, or time required to internalize the achieved
This topic area covers in depth a subject touched on in the first and
last steps of the Object-based PTA model.
Why This Is Third. This area of focus falls third in the
sequence because of its relative importance, the efforts required to
accomplish improvements in this area, and the applicability of this
topic to individual teachers as opposed to entire departments.
4. Counseling and Academic Advising. The fourth area of
focus for improving learning effectiveness (note the difference from teaching
effectiveness) is one that has less to do with direct teaching and
more to do with improving student learning. Although the title of this
topic is Counseling and Academic Advising, a great deal of the
focus of this topic is affective in nature, with the rest being a focus
on becoming effective at academic advising. One of the factors critical
to the success of a great number of students is for them to know that
someone at the school actually cares about them and their success. This
topic focuses on how instructors- assigned- to- be- advisors can move
away from the type person who tells students which squares they need to
fill and move towards being a counselor who advises students how to be
successful. This focus area involves two distinct skillsets (academic
advising and counseling), and the appropriate level of affective
development by the teacher.
Why This Is Fourth. This is QTII's fourth priority because it
is essential to improving student learning, even though it is probably
the most difficult for individual teachers to learn and to implement.
5. Textbook Authoring and Selection. Textbooks are one of the
most important tools in teaching and learning, but a textbook that is
not properly done can be more hindrance than help. This focus area is
intended to educate teachers in what to look for when selecting a
textbook for a course, to ensure the best teaching effectiveness from
that book. Besides defining characteristics to seek in a textbook, this
focus area simultaneously defines those same characteristics as areas of
focus when writing a textbook.
Summary: The focus areas of QTII are arranged in a distinct
sequence, as indicated, for the reasons given. This document is accurate
as of the date of writing, but is intended to be dynamic in nature,
changing as we develop new perspectives and consider additional
research. We welcome inputs and suggestions for improving this document
and its consequent philosophy.