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Each of the paragraphs below represents a different perspective on 'good teaching,' as indicated by the large bars on your profile sheet.

Together, they will help you understand and interpret your profile. Keep in mind that these five are not mutually exclusive perspectives. In our research involving thousands of teachers, the vast majority hold one or (sometimes) two dominant perspectives. Many hold an additional 'back-up' perspective that is high, although not dominant. This combination of dominant and back-up perspectives allows teachers to accommodate changes in context, content, and learners. Common sense requires that no one can operate from all five simultaneously, since they represent contrasting and sometimes competing views of teaching.

On your profile sheet you also have sub-scores for Beliefs (B), Intention (I), and Actions (A) within each perspective. These sub-scores scores will further help to identify your philosophy of teaching by highlighting whether your views within a perspective are grounded (differentially or equally) in what you believe, what you intend to accomplish, or what educational actions you undertake in your teaching settings.


Effective teaching requires a substantial commitment to the content or subject matter.

Good teaching means having mastery of the subject matter or content. Teachers' primary responsibilities are to represent the content accurately and efficiently. Learner's responsibilities are to learn that content in its authorized or legitimate forms. Good teachers take learners systematically through tasks leading to content mastery: providing clear objectives, adjusting the pace of lecturing, making efficient use of class time, clarifying misunderstandings, answering questions, providing timely feedback, correcting errors, providing reviews, summarizing what has been presented, directing students to appropriate resources, setting high standards for achievement and developing objective means of assessing learning. Good teachers are enthusiastic about their content and convey that enthusiasm to their students. For many learners, good transmission teachers are memorable presenters of their content.


Effective teaching is a process of socializing students into new behavioral norms and ways of working.

Good teachers are highly skilled practitioners of what they teach. Whether in classrooms or at work sites, they are recognized for their expertise. Teachers must reveal the inner workings of skilled performance and must translate it into accessible language and an ordered set of tasks which usually proceed from simple to complex, allowing for different points of entry depending upon the learner's capability. Good teachers know what their learners can do on their own and where they need guidance and direction; they engage learners within their 'zone of development'. As learners mature and become more competent, the teacher's role changes; they offer less direction and give more responsibility as students progress from dependent learners to independent workers.


Effective teaching must be planned and conducted "from the learner's point of view."

Good teachers must understand how their learners think and reason about the content. The primary goal is to help learners develop increasingly complex and sophisticated cognitive structures for comprehending the content. The key to changing those structures lies in a combination of two skills: (1) effective questioning that challenges learners to move from relatively simple to more complex forms of thinking, and (2) 'bridging knowledge' which provides examples that are meaningful to the learner. Questions, problems, cases, and examples form these bridges that teachers use to transport learners from simpler ways of thinking and reasoning to new, more complex and sophisticated forms of reasoning. Good teachers adapt their knowledge to learners' levels of understanding and ways of thinking.


Effective teaching assumes that long-term, hard, persistent effort to achieve comes from the heart, not the head.

People become motivated and productive learners when they are working on issues or problems without fear of failure. Learners are nurtured in knowing that (a) they can succeed at learning if they give it a good try; (b) their achievement is a product of their own effort and ability, rather than the benevolence of a teacher; and (c) their learning efforts will be supported by both teacher and peers. Good teachers care about their students and understand that some have histories of failure resulting in lowered self-confidence. However they make no excuses for learners. Rather, they encourage their efforts while challenging students to do their very best by promoting a climate of caring and trust, helping people set challenging but achievable goals, and supporting effort as well as achievement. Good teachers provide encouragement and support, along with clear expectations and reasonable goals for all learners but do not sacrifice self-efficacy or self-esteem for achievement. Their assessments of learning consider individual growth as well as absolute achievement.

Social Reform

Effective teaching seeks to change society in substantive ways.

From the Social Reform point of view, the object of teaching is the collective rather than the individual. Good teachers awaken students to values and ideologies that are embedded in texts and common practices within their disciplines. Good teachers challenge the status quo and encourage students to consider how learners are positioned and constructed in particular discourses and practices. To do so, they analyze and deconstruct common practices for ways in which such practices perpetuate conditions that are unacceptable. Class discussion is focused less on how knowledge has been created, and more by whom and for what purposes. Texts are interrogated for what is said and what is not said; what is included and what is excluded; who is represented and who is omitted from the dominant discourse. Students are encouraged to take critical stances to give them power to take social action to improve their own lives and the lives of others. Critical deconstruction, though central to this view, is not an end in itself.

Teaching Perspectives Inventory

© 2001 - 2014 Daniel D. Pratt and John B. Collins