Teacher Preparation

New Teachers (Mostly) Prepped for Class; Not so Sure about PBL

More than half of America's newest teachers believe that an infusion of technology in their classrooms could help them be more efficient according to a new surevey. They also tend to be "comfortable" with major areas of teaching responsibilities — understanding instructional goals, lesson planning and classroom management. But they also possess "concerns" about preparation in other areas. They're less confident than more experienced teachers, for example, in preparation of instructional goals and standards (58 percent vs. 12 percent), project based learning (38 percent vs. 31 percent), differentiated learning (36 percent vs. 22 percent) and developing assessments (35 percent vs. 20 percent).

Those results surfaced in a survey of 2,886 new and more experienced teachers done last fall by Simba Information and MCH Strategic Data. The results have been published in a new Simba report, "New Teachers, Getting Adjusted, 2015-2016." The report covers the experiences of K-12 teachers and their views on the use of technology and other forms of instructional materials, their motivations for getting into education and how they prepare for the classroom. Among the respondents, 21 percent were new to teaching in the current school year; 12 percent are in their second year of teaching; 27 percent have at least two years of experience but are new to their current position, school or district; and 40 percent are in at least their third year of teaching and not new to their current position or school.

The survey asked teachers to express their levels of comfort and concern about their preparation in a number of areas. The areas of greatest preparation comfort were content related — subject knowledge and lesson planning; the least was differentiated instruction and project based learning.

  • Subject content knowledge, 95 percent comfortable, 5 percent concerned;
  • Lesson planning, 90 percent comfortable, 10 percent concerned;
  • Instructional goals/standards, 88 percent comfortable, 12 percent concerned;
  • Classroom management, 86 percent comfortable, 14 percent concerned;
  • Use of technology for learning, 81 percent comfortable, 19 percent concerned;
  • Assessment development, 80 percent comfortable, 20 percent concerned;
  • Interpretation of test data, 79 percent comfortable, 21 percent concerned;
  • Differentiated instruction, 78 percent comfortable, 22 percent concerned; and
  • Project-based learning, 69 percent comfortable, 31 percent concerned.

"While the comfort level among teachers across the board is quite high for each of the topics, the areas of concern shared by teachers across the board and new teachers are project-based learning and differentiated instruction. For all respondents, interpretation of test data nudges out assessment development as a third area," said Kathy Mickey, managing editor of Simba's Education Group.

She added that new teachers "also showed a surprising penchant for the use of traditional print instructional materials in core subjects (topping 40 percent), but almost a fifth of new teachers found free Web-based resources they pull together themselves particularly popular for science and social studies."

The 70-page report is $2,750 on Simba's Web site.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.