National Teacher Survey 2014

authors: 
Dana Qarout
Helena Pylvainen
Sami Dahdah
Robert Palmer

Key Findings from the QRF National Teacher Survey

The Queen Rania Foundation (QRF)’s National Teacher Survey is the first publicly available nationally representative survey of public school teachers in Jordan.  Conducted in the spring of 2014 with 1,314 teachers, the study yielded important key insights about the background, motivations, training experiences, attitudes, and challenges faced by this critical workforce:

  1. Jordan’s public school teachers are mostly female, urban and relatively young. Nearly 9 in 10 public school teachers have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
  2. Nine in every 10 teachers reported they were happy and that they believed teaching is an honorable profession.
  3. The most common reason for joining the teaching profession was a passion for teaching – nearly 4 in 10 teachers reported this as their primary motivating factor. Nearly 2 in 10 teachers said their main reason for joining the profession was lack of alternatives, another 30% cited academic circumstances such as inability to pursue other fields at university, and 10% said the suitability of the profession for women was the primary factor.          
  4. Twenty-eight percent of teachers said they never received training prior to joining the profession, and the majority of those who did receive training reported that their training was around two months or less in length.
  5. Fewer than half of teachers reported receiving in-service training in the past two years. Informal in-school support may be more common: more than 9 in 10 principals reported meeting with their teachers to discuss lesson plans at least once a month.
  6. Teachers in Jordan expressed a range of career ambitions, including obtaining further academic qualifications (26%), advancing in their careers (21%), and making a positive impact on the next generation of students (16%).
  7. Excluding salary, teachers’ top-reported professional challenges were engaging students and parents and managing heavy workloads.
  8. There were several differences between male and female teachers’ attitudes: in particular, male teachers were less likely to report a passion for teaching as their primary reason for joining the profession and more likely to say they intend to leave their current teaching position.
Methodology

Mixed Methods Approach

This study used a mixed methods approach to capture information about teachers from a range of sources. The largest data collection component was a nationally representative teacher survey, and this information was complemented by additional primary data collection, including a survey of principals and focus groups with teachers. Secondary data sources were also consulted; for example, statistics from the Ministry of Education were compared with survey statistics to validate results, findings were compared to international studies to assess how Jordan’s teaching workforce compares with other countries, and global research on teacher-related policy was reviewed to draw out implications of the findings for improving teaching and learning.

Teacher Survey

The primary data collection tool was a large-scale survey of teachers. The survey was planned and designed in a partnership between the Queen Rania Foundation (QRF) and the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS) at the University of Jordan. A stratified random sampling approach was designed to be nationally representative of public school teachers.[1] Ultimately, CSS was able to reach 1,315 teachers from 429 public schools, a sample that is representative of the population at a 95% confidence interval and 2.5% margin of error.

CSS conducted the teacher survey fieldwork in May and June of 2014. The survey was administered as an in-person interview lasting between 25-45 minutes.  All teachers provided informed consent before administration. The survey included both closed and open-ended questions. In the case of open-ended questions, the raw responses were recorded and then coded into relevant categories by CSS for analysis and reporting.

Quantitative data analysis consisted of both descriptive and inferential statistics. Where gaps by socio-demographic, geographic or other important characteristics were identified, statistical significance was tested using t-tests, ANOVAs, and chi-squared tests with a 95% confidence interval. 

Principal Survey

Three hundred and sixty-five public school principals were surveyed via in-person interviews to provide an additional perspective on findings from the teacher survey and learn about the experience of principals. While principals are not the focus of this report, some findings from the principal survey are included to provide context and corroboration for findings from the teacher survey.

Focus Groups

To provide context and support the interpretation of the results of the quantitative survey, CSS conducted a series of focus groups across the North, Center and South of the Kingdom. The teachers were recruited from those who had taken the survey and were willing to participate in focus group discussions, including teachers who had participated in QRF-affiliated initiatives. In total, 82 teachers participated in ten different group discussions, with three discussions conducted with exclusively non-QRF affiliated teachers. Discussions were recorded with participants’ permission and transcribed to facilitate analysis.

CSS analyzed transcripts and coded participants’ comments according to the major thematic areas identified.  A full written report of focus group findings was submitted to QRF and integrated in the findings of this report, with an emphasis on findings gleaned from the three focus groups that exclude teachers who participated in QRF-affiliated initiatives.

Profile of Teacher Survey Respondents

The sampled teacher population is fairly representative of the general teacher population, indicated by the closely matched known characteristics of the 2014 broader teacher population. Although the sample of public school teachers was slightly younger and more educated than the population and some of the less-populated governorates were slightly over or under-represented, the distribution of the public school teachers sample by region and gender matched the population distribution almost perfectly (see Table 1).

Table 1. Comparison of Teacher Survey Sample Characteristics with 2013-2014 Teacher Population in Jordan

 

Public School Teacher Population, 2013-2014

QRF Teacher Survey 2014

Gender

Female

62%

60%

Male

38%

40%

Age

30 years and under

21%

27%

ages 31-40

48%

46%

ages 41-50

25%

22%

50 years and older

6%

5%

Governorate

Amman

25%

22%

Balqa

7%

7%

Zarqa

12%

12%

Madaba

3%

3%

Irbid

20%

22%

Mafraq

10%

9%

Jerash

4%

4%

Ajloun

3%

4%

Karak

7%

7%

Tafelah

3%

3%

Ma'an

4%

5%

Aqaba

2%

2%

Region

Central

46%

44%

North

38%

39%

South

16%

17%

Academic qualification

Less than BA

13%

7%

BA+

87%

93%

TOTAL

78,706

1,315

*Source: Data on gender and governorate distribution from the Ministry of Education (2014); age distribution from Sawalmeh (2014), and academic qualifications data from the Department of Statistics (2015).

Study Limitations

As the first publicly available nationally representative survey of Jordan’s public school teachers, this study offers a major contribution to education research and policy in Jordan. However, there are several limitations worth noting. Since the survey was conducted via in-person interviews, teachers may not have felt fully free in responding to questions, and results may reflect what they perceived as socially desirable rather than their authentic beliefs. Given the lack of previous research on teacher motivations, training experiences and other areas, comprehensive closed-ended response options were not possible on many questions. The survey thus relied on open-ended questions to obtain a broad range of unfiltered responses, resulting in a rich dataset which was sometimes difficult to interpret definitively. For example, because teachers were asked about their reasons for joining the profession on an open-ended question, it was possible to report the factors which teachers stated, but not possible to exclude the importance of factors not spontaneously mentioned. Similarly, some questions were found to yield ambiguous results; for example, the question about whether teachers received training prior to entering the classroom did not distinguish between university-based teacher education programs, shorter induction programs, and informal school-based pre-service training. Other limitations related to specific survey questions are noted throughout the report where relevant. These limitations should be taken into account when reviewing the results, and will be duly considered in the next round of the QRF National Teacher Survey.


[1] Teachers who had participated in QRF-affiliated programs were excluded from the quantitative survey analysis. A sample of 369 teachers from low-fee private schools was also surveyed for comparison purposes. This sample was excluded from the present report because it was not representative of the broader population of private school teachers.

The Teaching Workforce at a Glance

In 2014, there were nearly 117,000 teachers working in Jordan, responsible for the education of 1.9 million children (MoE, 2015). Of these teachers, nearly 79,000 worked in public Ministry of Education (MoE) schools, comprising 68% of the workforce. This large cadre is responsible for the education of the 1.3 million children enrolled in Jordanian public MoE schools today (MoE, 2015). A review of government data sources and key background questions on the Queen Rania Foundation (QRF) National Teacher Survey can be used to build a foundational understanding of the characteristics of the teaching workforce in Jordan.

Governing Authority

In 2014, the MoE employed 7 in every 10 teachers in Jordan, with the remainder split among private schools, UNRWA schools, and other governmental schools (MoE, 2015; see Table 2).

Table 2: Teacher Distribution by Governing Authority, 2014-2015

 

Number of Teachers

Distribution of Teachers

Ministry of Education

78,746

68%

Private

31,837

27%

Other Government

1,723

1%

UNRWA

4,436

4%

Total

116,742

100%

Source:  MoE, 2015

The percentage of teachers employed by the government has decreased only slightly over the past decade as the overall workforce has grown; in 2004-05, 71% of teachers worked in MoE schools, compared to 68% in the 2014/2015 academic year (MoE, 2015).  

Grade Levels Served

Most public school teachers in Jordan (73%) work at schools classified in the “basic education” level, which encompasses grades 1 through 10.  Another 25% serve in secondary schools (Grades 11 and 12), while under 2% work at schools classified as kindergarten level (KG2[1]). While only a small percentage of public school teachers serve at the pre-primary level, 20% of private school teachers in Jordan serve at the pre-primary level[2] (MoE, 2015).   

A simple question on the QRF National Teacher Survey yielded interesting findings about the distribution of public school teachers[3] by grade level taught. When asked which grade levels they serve, most teachers in Jordan reported teaching a wide range of grades and student developmental levels (see Table 3).  Sixty-two percent reported teaching classes that spanned three or more grade levels. Twenty-two percent reported simultaneously teaching students that were five or more grade levels apart; for example, one teacher said she taught grades 3-5 as well as grades 7-9.

Table 3: Distribution of MoE Teachers Surveyed by Span of Grades Taught*, 2014

 

% of Teachers Surveyed

1 or 2 grades

37%

3 or 4 grades

40%

5 or 6 grades

18%

7 or more grades

4%

Total

100%[4] (1,315)

*For example, a teacher teaching across a span of 4 grades might teach grades 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Source: QRF National Teacher Survey 2014

Age and Experience

Teachers in Jordan are relatively young—in the 2013-2014 academic year, 70% of public school teachers were below the age of 40 (Sawalmeh, 2014). The average age among teachers in TALIS[5]-participating countries in 2013 was around 43 (OECD, 2014a), suggesting that a large majority of teachers in Jordan are younger than their peers in TALIS-participating countries.

Table 4:  Age Distribution of MoE Teachers, 2013-14

 

Number of MoE Teachers

% of MoE Teachers

30 years or younger

15,687

21%

Ages 31-40

36,373

48%

Ages 41-50

18,361

25%

50 years and older

4,671

6%

Total

75,092

100%

Source: Ministry of Education (2014) as cited in Sawalmeh (2014)

Table 5: Experience Distribution of MoE Teachers, 2013-14

 

Number of MoE Teachers

% of MoE Teachers

5 Years or less

21,674

29%

Between 5 and 10 years

23,950

32%

Between 11 and 20 years

20,399

27%

20 or more years

9,069

12%

Total

75,092

100%

Source: Ministry of Education (2014) as cited in Sawalmeh (2014)

Although the workforce is somewhat younger than in TALIS-participating countries, the teaching profession in Jordan appears to have matured slightly in recent years. The percentage of teachers with fewer than five years of teaching experience was 42% in 2009, compared to just 29% in 2013-2014 (MoE, 2015; Sawalmeh, 2014). By comparison, the average number of years of experience among TALIS teachers in 2013 was 16 (OECD, 2014a).

Academic Qualifications   

As they complete high school, students’ secondary leaving examination (Tawjihi) scores play a major role in determining their future careers. Bachelor’s degrees are required to meet the MoE’s official qualification standard for the teaching profession, and students must pass Tawjihi to enter any Jordanian university. While the requirement to pass Tawjihi adds some selectivity to the teacher pipeline, teachers’ Tawjihi scores tend to be lower than those of doctors, pharmacists, or engineers. Furthermore, the fields of study pursued by most teachers have lower Tawjihi requirements than many other professions. In the QRF National Teacher Survey, most teachers reported Tawjihi scores between 70-79% (see Figure 1); this exceeds the minimum score of 60% for admission to private universities and 65% to enter the public university system but falls below the scores required for competitive admission into fields such as pharmacy, engineering, medicine and dentistry (80-85%) (Higher Education Council [HEC], 2015[6]). However, because these scores were self-reported in a face-to-face interview and the Tawjihi assessment and university requirements have evolved over time, it is difficult to draw conclusions from the results of this survey question.

Figure 1: Teachers’ Self-Reported Tawjihi Scores, 2014

Source: QRF National Teacher Survey 2014

According to the Education Law Number 3 (1994), public school teachers must have Bachelor’s degrees or higher; however, teachers without a Bachelor’s degree may be “temporarily” hired if the need arises until appropriate credentials are obtained. Historically, these exceptions have been made for positions that are hard to staff, such as Math teaching positions in boys’ schools. Over time, the government has made fewer and fewer exceptions to the official requirements, and the percentage of teachers with degrees has increased. In 2014, approximately 87% of MoE teachers held a university degree or higher compared to just 70% in 2007-2008 (Sawalmeh, 2014); see Figure 2.  The portion of MoE teachers with Bachelor’s degrees in 2014 was eight percentage points higher than it was in 2009 , while the proportion of teachers with community college diplomas has declined in the past five years (from 11% in 2009 to 7% in 2014) (MoE, 2015).

Figure 2: Distribution of MoE Teachers by Education Level, 2003-2013

Sources: Rawlinson and Allak, 2008; DoS, 2013

Examining the relationship between age and education level for QRF National Teacher Survey respondents supports the notion that increasing enforcement of education qualifications has changed the profile of the profession. Most respondents without Bachelor’s degrees were over 45 years old and had more than 15 years of experience. However, it is important to note that around 15% of respondents without Bachelor’s degrees had 5 or fewer years of experience, indicating that some exceptions have continued in recent years.

Table 6 further illustrates the link between governance and teacher qualification. Teachers in private schools are less likely to hold Bachelor’s degrees than their public school counterparts, but nearly all (98%) of UNRWA teachers have Bachelor’s degrees.

Table 6: Percentage of Teachers with Bachelor’s Degrees by Sector, 2012-13

 

% of Teachers with Bachelor’s or Higher Degrees

MoE

88%

Private

81%

Other Gov't

93%

UNRWA

98%

All sectors

86%

Source: DoS, 2013

 

The QRF National Teacher Survey results demonstrate that levels of education vary somewhat by the grade levels they serve. Secondary-level public school teachers were slightly more likely to hold higher degrees: 26% of those who taught only secondary grades had completed education beyond their Bachelor’s degrees compared to just 19% of those who taught exclusively primary grade students.

Motivation for Teaching

Respondents to the QRF National Teacher Survey were asked about their motivation for entering the teaching profession, eliciting a wide range of responses that differed by age, experience, and especially gender. The question was open-ended, and teachers were given the freedom to list up to three reasons of their choice. Their responses were later categorized into larger thematic issues. The most common reason cited was the desire to teach: 37% of the public school teachers who participated in the survey cited the intrinsic attraction of the profession as their primary motivator.[7] However, a large proportion of teachers cited reasons suggesting that teaching would not have been their first choice of careers but that circumstances compelled them to take up the profession. Twenty-nine percent said they became teachers primarily because it was their best option given their academic circumstances,[8] illustrating the important role that university Tawjihi requirements play in shaping career paths. Most respondents who cited their academic circumstances explained that teaching was one of the only prospective careers given their low Tawjihi scores. Nearly one in five teachers (18%) said they chose teaching because they had no other career alternatives.[9] An additional 11% said they choose the profession because it was a career suitable for women[10] (i.e. they might have chosen another career if not for their gender). It is important to note that this analysis is based on the first reason respondents reported; reporting a first reason other than a desire to teach does not mean that a love of teaching was not a factor for those teachers.

Responses to the question about motivation to teach did not only vary by sector, age, and years of experience, but reflect a gap in attitudes and outlooks across gender as well. As Figure 3  illustrates, significantly more male teachers cited a lack of alternatives as their primary reason for teaching than their female counterparts (31% compared to 10%), while 16% of females cited a “push” factor explicitly linked to gender, stating that either they chose the profession because they, their family members, or others perceived teaching as the most culturally acceptable occupation for women. Importantly, female teachers were more likely to have chosen their career primarily due to their desire for teaching (40% compared to 33% of male teachers), and this difference was statistically significant (p<.01).

Figure 3: MoE Teachers’ Top Four Reasons for Teaching[11] by Gender, 2014

Source: QRF National Teacher Survey 2014

These gender differences in motivation for choosing the teaching profession could partially explain one of the most daunting education policy challenges in Jordan: the “reverse” gender gap wherein girls outperform boys by a wide margin. For example, on the 2012 Programme for International Assessment (PISA), only 31% of 15-year-old boys achieved proficiency in reading compared to 68% of girls, and this trend is found in almost every recent standardized assessment in Jordan (UNESCO, 2015). Since the vast majority of boys above grade 3 are taught by male teachers and the vast majority of girls are taught by female teachers, differing levels of passion for the work could impact the quality of instruction received by boys and girls, thereby be one of the factors contributing to differences in learning outcomes.

Disaggregating these results by age group and years of experience suggests there may also be possible generational differences in motivations for teaching. Figure 4 highlights how younger teachers were significantly less likely than older teachers to cite desire for teaching as their primary reason for choosing the profession (p<.001). Looking at the same question by years of teaching experience resulted in a similar pattern: 40% of teachers with less than 5 years of teaching experience cited a passion for teaching, compared to 48% of teachers with more than 20 years of experience (p<.01).

Figure 4: MoE Teachers’ Main Reasons for Teaching by Age Group, 2014

Source: QRF National Teacher Survey 2014

Future research could investigate the sources of these changes over time, and track whether recent policy changes have made a difference in the motivations of incoming teachers. The trend could stem from changes in teacher selection over time, or it could result from attrition, wherein teachers who were more passionate about teaching were more likely to stay longer in the profession. At the time of the survey, the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) criteria for public school teaching candidates primarily prioritized those candidates who had been in the CSB queue for the longest period of time to become a teacher. However, shortly following the survey in 2014, the MoE introduced a plan to interview candidates following the CSB screening to gauge their level of enthusiasm and passion for the profession and to make the process more selective.

Gender

Female teachers constitute 68% of the total teaching workforce, with a larger proportion of female teachers in private schools compared to other sectors. The percentage of teachers who are female has steadily increased over the past decade, growing from 59 to 62% at MoE schools and from 85 to 89% at private schools. This mirrors the trend regionally and globally; from 2002 to 2012, the percentage of female primary school teachers increased from 55 to 58% in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and from 60 to 63% globally (UNESCO, 2015). The 2014 gender breakdown in the Jordanian teaching cadre was the same as the average for the 34 countries participating in the TALIS  survey (OECD, 2014a).

This trend does not hold at UNRWA and non-MoE government schools, where the proportion of female teachers is still 51 and 18%, respectively (MoE, 2015). However, the gradual feminization of the teaching workforce is a clear trend for the majority of schools, and the education sector is a major employer of women in the Kingdom. Since the female workforce participation rate is only 16%, teaching positions represent a significantly high proportion of female-held jobs in Jordan (World Economic Forum [WEF], 2015).

Male teachers are more likely to be teaching at the secondary level than in basic education (45% male vs. 37% male, respectively), and nearly all kindergarten teachers in the Kingdom are female (see Figure 5). In the QRF National Teacher Survey, not a single male teacher reported teaching at the pre-primary level.

Figure 5: Distribution of Male and Female Teachers by Grade Levels Taught, All Sectors, 2014

Source: MoE, 2015


[1]As of 2014, the MoE did not generally serve at the KG1 level.

[2] This is an illustration of the predominance of private provision at the pre-primary level, especially for KG1, where almost all providers are private (MoE, 2015).

[3] The QRF National Teacher Survey (2014) included 1,315 public (MoE) school teachers who had not participated in QRF-affiliated initiatives. Throughout this report, “National Teacher Survey” respondents indicates a representative sample of non-QRF-affiliated public school teachers.

[4] Some percentages in this report may not sum to the totals due to rounding.

[5] The Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) is run by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) every three years to learn more about how countries can better prepare teachers to perform their jobs given the various challenges they face in their classrooms. In 2013, 34 countries participated, mostly in Europe.

[6] The Unified Admission Policy is updated on a yearly basis to include the minimum grade requirements for each major.

[7] The “desire to teach” category included responses such as “I love to teach,” “teaching has been a dream since I was a child,” “to build the future generations,” “following in the footsteps of my previous teachers,” “because I am delivering the prophets’ message,” and “my love for the subject I teach.”

[8] The “academic circumstances” category included responses such as “grades” and “restrictions due to university specialization.”

[9] This category included responses such as “no other job opportunities” and “I do not have other options.” 

[10] This category encompassed responses such as “parents and husband approved of this profession,” “gender segregation in the workplace,” and “traditions and customs, as well as father’s preference.”

[11] The question was asked as follows: “What was the main reason you decided to become a teacher?”

ما هو السبب الرئيسي الذي جعلك تصبح معلماً؟"

Teacher Education and Continuous Professional Development

Teacher pre-service training[1] and continuous professional development (CPD) are vital to quality education. Aside from students’ socioeconomic backgrounds, studies in the US have found that teachers are the single most influential factor affecting student performance (Hanushek & Rivkin, 2006). Since education policy typically has little direct impact on students’ family and community backgrounds, policies targeting teacher quality are imperative for improving student outcomes. Experts in education have found that rigorous pre-service training with a heavy focus on subject-specific pedagogy and practical experience in schools yield optimal results in teacher preparedness and effectiveness, especially when linked to professional development during teachers’ years in service (Darling-Hammond, 2006).

In order to sustain the quality of teaching staff, school administrators must provide their teachers with updated workshops, research opportunities, conferences, teaching methods training, and regular feedback on progress. Reports by the OECD on TALIS results emphasize that in-house training during teachers’ service not only enhances teacher performance, but ensures teacher retention in schools (OECD, 2010). According to Linda Darling-Hammond (2012), in-service training or education systematizes improvement in teaching such that the quality of teachers and content of lesson plans continuously reflect the changing demands of the global job market and technological advances of the given generation. The QRF National Teacher Survey included a range of questions regarding teacher training, offering important insights on the frequency and nature of teachers’ preparation and professional development experiences.

Pre-Service and Induction Training

In 2014, there were two pre-service training opportunities for teachers in the public education sector: the first was through a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) program offered at universities and the second was through the MoE-run induction training carried out in the summer before the start of the semester. The first pathway was, and is still, limited to teachers aiming to teach KG through Grade 3 students since universities do not offer “Field Teacher”[2] streams. Teachers who come from subject-specific undergraduate degrees typically only receive the induction training offered by the MoE for their pedagogical training.

The phrasing of the QRF National Teacher Survey question[3] regarding training “before starting their current job” makes it possible for respondents to have referred to either pre-service education (i.e., B.Ed. programs) or induction training organized by the MoE or their assigned school. There is reason to believe that, for the most part, teachers were referring to the training they received right before starting their jobs at school (i.e. induction training) since formal Teacher Education programs are not extensively established outside B.Ed. programs for teachers of grades KG-3. However, due to how the question was phrased, teachers’ responses could refer to any type of pre-service education, training or induction.

As shown in Figure 6, 28% of teachers said they never received any training before starting their teaching jobs. One quarter of respondents stated the pre-service training they received was around two weeks long and another quarter said the training lasted about two months. By comparison, the OECD average duration of induction training in 2008 was 10.6 months (2012). In Finland, the practicum training for teachers lasts a full year, constituting 15-20% of the entire training undergone by future teachers (Sahlberg, 2012).  It is important to note that these responses could include teachers describing their university education and the average length of formal induction in Jordan could be shorter than a few months. Future surveys could distinguish between university-based preparation, formal and informal induction to provide a more nuanced understanding of teachers’ pre-service training, as well as a more accurate comparison with TALIS countries.

Figure 6: MoE Teachers’ Reported Duration of Training Received Before Assuming Current Teaching Job, 2014

Source: QRF National Teacher Survey 2014

Teachers were asked whether their pre-service training prepared them with the following: a) teaching skills, b) content knowledge in subject matter, c) class management skills, d) curriculum, and e) code of ethics. Over 70% of teachers said their pre-service training prepared them in all five areas. However, respondents were not asked about training in other areas such as integrating technology or providing students with psychosocial support.

Most principals also perceived teachers’ pre-service training to be sufficient. In the survey of principals conducted along with the QRF National Teacher Survey, around 8 in 10 principals stated that they believed the training teachers received before starting their teaching career sufficiently trained their teachers in practical teaching skills, classroom management, completing the curriculum, and the code of ethics.

Other data sources provide information about teacher training in more specific domains such as teaching numeracy and literacy. As Figure 7 illustrates, only around a third (36%) of teachers in Jordan reported having been trained in how to teach students reading and math before entering the profession, while half of them reported not receiving any training in either subject  (Brombacher et al., 2012). Further research could explore the source of the gap between teachers’ responses in the QRF National Teacher Survey and questions from other surveys on more specific training domains.

Figure 7: Percentage of Teachers Reporting Pre-Service Training in Reading and Math, All Sectors, 2011


Source: Brombacher et al., 2012

In-Service Training

While induction training is critical in preparing first-time teachers, in-service professional development opportunities have proven to be essential to education development (OECD, 2014a). A study on initial teacher training and retention indicated that student academic performance is usually significantly poorer in classrooms taught by first-year teachers than those taught by teachers with more years of experience, and on-the-job training is imperative to boost the skills of new teachers (Goodwin, 2012). OECD reports on TALIS suggest that professional teacher development and continuous training opportunities are the two most important factors contributing to teacher self-efficacy, job satisfaction, and consequently better student outcomes (OECD, 2010).   

The majority of teachers in high-performing school systems receive in-service training or CPD on an annual basis. In the 2013 TALIS survey of 34 countries, 91% of teachers of upper secondary grades received training or professional development opportunities within the year preceding the survey (OECD, 2014a). In the QRF National Teacher Survey, fewer than half of teachers (42%) said they had received in-service training in the past two years.  

The majority of teachers who received training in the last two years reported that training was organized by the MoE. As Figure 8 illustrates, about three-quarters of MoE teachers received their most recent training from the MoE, and smaller proportions from USAID (7%), Queen Rania Teacher Academy (QRTA) (5%), UNICEF (4%), and Change Agent for Arab Development & Education Reform (CADER) (4%). However, many training programs are developed in partnership between multiple stakeholders and teachers may recall more prominent organizations such as the MoE more readily than smaller local partners.

Figure 8: Providers of Most Recent In-Service Trainings as Reported by MoE Teachers, 2014

Source: QRF National Teacher Survey 2014

Teachers were asked an open-ended question about the content of their most recent training. The topics most frequently mentioned include: classroom management, ICT skills, and teaching methods.

Principal Support

In some contexts where excellent certification programs are lacking, informal training can be just as constructive as formal training, if not more. More informal, school-based trainings can include mentorship, collaborative work on lesson plans among teaching staff, teacher performance feedback, independent research on up-to-date teaching methods and issues in education, and regular meetings with school leaders. Research on teacher education highlights that professional development activities that are embedded within school operations are in fact more effective in producing high quality teachers (Darling-Hammond, 2006).

In asking teachers about in-service training they received, the QRF National Teacher Survey did not distinguish between different modes of in-service trainings, but the accompanying Principal Survey did include some relevant questions about principal support. In total, 92% of principals reported meeting with their teachers to discuss lesson plans once a month or more, while 8% did so only once or twice a year. Figure 9 shows a more detailed breakdown of responses. More than 80% reported these meetings were half an hour to an hour in length.

Figure 9: Frequency of MoE Principal-Reported Meetings with Teachers to Discuss Lesson Planning, 2014

Source: QRF National Teacher Survey – Principal Survey Component, 2014

In future surveys, collecting more detailed data about the types of in-service training and school-based support teachers receive would provide a more nuanced picture of the professional development and in-school support that Jordanian teachers receive. 

Attitudes about Training

While the majority of teachers reported positive benefits from training[4], just under half (48%) of teachers said they need further training and professional development opportunities to improve their competencies. Principals in the survey did not share a similar opinion; 88% said their teachers needed further training or professional development.

Teachers who reported they needed further training were asked which types of training courses they wanted. The most common responses included (in order of frequency): education technology, teaching methods and curricular material, classroom management skills, child behavior language courses, professional and vocational skills, and communication with parents and community.   


[1] “Induction training” refers to the period right before a teacher’s commencement in the profession, while “pre-service training” refers to the Bachelor-equivalent teacher certification program and, in some cases, a Master’s program as well. Induction training can be very short, as opposed to pre-service training which entails a relatively long period of learning both theory and application of pedagogy.

[2] “Field Teacher” refers to teachers teaching specific subjects (ex: Math, Biology, etc.) to grades 4-10 students.

[3] What was the duration of the training you received before starting your current job? كم من الوقت استغرق التدريب قبل العمل الخاص بك؟

[4] More than three quarters rated their trainings between 4 and 5 out of a 5-point scale, where 1 was “poor” and 5 was “excellent”.

Satisfaction and Professional Outlook

International teacher surveys have found that several factors are associated with teacher job satisfaction, including pre-service preparation, CPD opportunities, compensation, emotional state, and motivation to teach (OECD, 2005). A healthy work environment is integral to teachers’ job satisfaction; collaboration among teachers, feedback and appraisals from school leaders, and continuous encouragement to flourish in the profession are all key elements yielding high job satisfaction (Johnson, Kraft, & Papay, 2011).

Happiness

Most teachers in the QRF National Teacher Survey reported that they are happy in their lives in general, and that job satisfaction is a significant factor in their happiness. The vast majority of teachers (92%) described themselves as happy or somewhat happy (see Figure 10). Life at home is the most cited reason for happiness (reported by two-thirds of teachers), followed by job satisfaction (reported by half of teachers). These two factors could be linked—on the international TALIS survey of teachers, emotional factors outside the school were associated with the degree to which teachers are content with their profession (OECD, 2014a). It is important to note that a direct question about job satisfaction was not asked in the survey, but “job satisfaction” was spontaneously offered by half of teachers as the reason for happiness in an open-ended question.

Figure 10: MoE Teachers’ Reported Happiness Levels, 2014

Source: QRF National Teacher Survey 2014

Perception of the Teaching Profession

Nine in every 10 respondents considered the teaching profession to be honorable. When asked why they felt the profession was honorable, more than a third of teachers (38%) cited their role in raising future generations. Other common responses included the belief that teaching is a sacred profession (21%) and the role of teachers in spreading moral messages in the society (18%).

Analysis of the survey results revealed a positive relationship between happiness, perceptions of the profession, and teacher retention. Teachers who reported believing that teaching was an honorable profession were significantly less likely to report not being happy (6% compared to 24% of those who did not believe teaching was honorable, p<.001). The same applies for teachers who intended to continue working in their current schools; 94% of them reporting being happy compared to 83% of those intending to leave their jobs (p<.001).[1]     

The QRF National Teacher Survey did not gather information about public perceptions of the status of the profession, but some teachers did mention societal perceptions of the profession as a career challenge and the issue was raised during the focus groups. The general consensus among respondents was that teachers have lost the level of respect they once enjoyed in the past. This sentiment is shared by the majority of teachers across OECD countries as well. Despite enjoying the profession, only 31% of teachers on the international TALIS survey believed their profession is highly regarded in their society—a reality that could negatively impact teacher job satisfaction (OECD, 2014a). Further research is needed to understand Jordanian society’s perceptions of the teaching profession and how those perceptions affect teachers themselves.

Professional Aspirations

Around three in four teachers (76%) said they planned to stay as a teacher in their school for the foreseeable future. An open-ended question about teachers’ most important career goals also yielded interesting results, although they are somewhat challenging to interpret.[2] Table 7 shows the most commonly cited career goals. The top response was to obtain further academic qualifications—in Jordan, academic qualifications are linked to salary increases, with higher salaries for higher levels of educational attainment (CSB, 2014). About 20% of teachers sought to advance their careers in their respective schools, while others provided altruistic reasons (i.e., to develop the next generation of Jordanians) or general goals (e.g. to achieve excellence in their careers). Around 10% of respondents did not express ambitions for career growth: 8% said their goal was to maintain their current status, and 3% said their goal was retirement. An additional 7% declined to answer the question.

Table 7: Professional Ambitions of Teachers, 2014

 

% of Teachers

Obtaining academic qualifications

26%

Improvement in position / career

21%

Building a promising generation

16%

Professional development / career excellence

15%

Maintaining current status

8%

Retirement

3%

Other

3%

Declined to respond

7%

Total

100%

Source: QRF National Teacher Survey 2014

Questions about teachers’ aspirations in the next QRF National Teacher Survey could include a range of pre-set options to allow for comparisons across sub-groups. 

Gender Differences

Female teachers expressed more positive attitudes about the profession than their male counterparts. Figure 11 illustrates the differences in responses regarding happiness, intention to remain in the profession, and outlook on the profession. Female teachers reported slightly higher happiness than male teachers and were more likely to consider teaching an honorable profession. The most striking gap was related to future plans: male teachers were twice as likely to plan to leave their current schools as female teachers (p<.001).

Figure 11: MoE Teachers’ Attitudes by Gender, 2014

Source: QRF National Teacher Survey 2014

International research on gender differences in teacher job satisfaction has been inconclusive. While some reports conclude that women tend to report higher job satisfaction levels in the workforce, regardless of profession, some country case studies have revealed that gender differences in job satisfaction are statistically insignificant (Aydin et al, 2012; Mondal, 2014). A study on female job satisfaction in the European labor market revealed that female teachers tended to be more satisfied with their careers even though they are almost always at a disadvantage when it comes to earnings, promotions, prospects, and recruitment (Kaiser, 2005). A similar pattern has been found in other contexts such as Pakistan (Ghazi & Maringe, 2011).

Two factors that might explain a portion of the gender gap in these satisfaction metrics are the lack of career alternatives for women and potentially more challenging work environments for male teachers. Jordan has one of the lowest female workforce participation rates in the world—at 14% (ILO, 2013)—and many respondents highlighted that teaching is one of the few culturally acceptable jobs for women in many areas. Female teachers may therefore consider themselves fortunate to have a job (ILO, 2013). On the other hand, the widening student achievement gap between girls and boys (strongly in favor of girls) and differing school conditions such as the higher total bullying rate among boys (40% compared to 30% among girls) in Jordan may make the teaching job more difficult for men working at male schools (MoE, 2015; UNGEI, 2015; OECD, 2015). However, the available data does not allow for examination of these hypotheses, and it may be that gender gaps in satisfaction may simply reflect gendered patterns of survey responses with little connection to underlying differences in experiences. The gender gap in job satisfaction among Jordanian teachers requires further examination, with greater detail on individual components of satisfaction: pay, promotions, management, professional environment, and the nature of the work. Research should also investigate the impact of teachers’ attitudes and satisfaction on students, including the possibility that less happy, motivated, and satisfied teachers could be contributing to Jordanian boys’ lagging achievement relative to their female peers.


[1] These differences were statistically significant (p<0.001)       

[2] Raw responses were coded and categorized under the main themes shown in Table 7. The category “building promising generation” includes responses such as “ensure that my students go to college,” “increase student performance,” “promoting positive behavior and acting as a role model,” and “raising a promising generation.” The category “move up in the career ladder” includes responses such as “become school principal,” “become part of the administrative or management staff,” “become lecturer at university,” “get promoted to MoE supervisor,” and “receive promotions.” The category “professional development and excellence” includes responses such as “excel in my profession and establish a good reputation,” “deliver my message,” “work abroad,” and “receive useful in-service teacher training.”

Professional Challenges

Teachers’ ability to face challenges successfully and mitigate their stressful effect is critical to enabling productive school environments (Trendall, 2006). Since challenges facing teachers are strongly linked to job satisfaction, understanding challenges faced by teachers and ensuring they have the tools to respond to them is critical to sustaining their motivation to work and teaching effectiveness. If teachers are struggling, so are students.

The QRF National Teacher Survey asked teachers about their top challenges excluding salary.[1]  Figure 12 shows the professional challenges cited by Jordanian teachers. Other than compensation, the two most commonly cited professional challenges were engaging students and parents and workload.

Figure 12: Issues Cited Among MoE Teachers’ Top Three Professional Challenges[2] Excluding Salary, 2014

Source: QRF National Teacher Survey 2014

Salary

While the QRF National Teacher Survey question about professional challenges excluded salaries, it is worth noting this was a major issue reported by teachers in Jordan. When asked whether they were satisfied with their current salaries, and just under half of teachers (46%) expressed a moderate or large degree of satisfaction, while 48% were “only a little” and 6% were “not at all” satisfied with their salaries.

This dissatisfaction with salaries may reflect broader economic challenges  reported by the World Bank[3] and others in Jordan, as GDP per capita in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) declined every year from 2009 to 2013 (World Bank, 2015). The starting salary for Ministry of Education teachers with Bachelor’s degrees in 2014-2015 was 447 JOD per month (MoE, 2013), above the average monthly wage reported by female workers nationally (406 JOD) and nearly identical to that of male workers (448 JOD) (DoS, 2013). However, with the high cost of living—Amman was ranked the most expensive city in the region in 2015 (Kapur, 2015)—even above-average salaries may not translate to a comfortable standard of living. When asked about challenges in their personal life, the economic situation in Jordan was the most common response, cited by 23% of teachers. Perhaps linked to these challenges, 8% of teachers reported working a second job, and among male teachers the rate was 17%. However, further research is needed to determine whether teachers’ challenges with salary are specific to their profession or reflective of economic challenges shared by households across the Kingdom.

Engaging students and parents

Excluding salaries, teachers’ most frequently cited professional challenge was engaging students and parents. Forty-six percent of teachers highlighted this as one of their three most pressing professional hardships in their career, and 25% cited a related issue as their number one professional challenge. More specifically, these “engagement” challenges included students’ disruptive behavior, students’ failure to read material or complete assignments, and broken channels of communication with parents. Though the survey did not ask about general strategies teachers used to engage students, it did ask teachers how they handle disciplinary matters in their classrooms. More than half of teachers answered that their main disciplinary method was deducting marks, giving warnings, and/or physically disciplining (e.g., hitting) students. Around one quarter (26%) said they used dialogue or debate to motivate students, and an additional 12% reported involving counselors or parents.

A slightly higher proportion of male teachers (29%) cited student and parental engagement as their number one professional challenge compared to their female counterparts (23%). Differences in responses were also found across grade levels taught. Pre-primary teachers were significantly less likely to cite this challenge than those who taught at the basic and secondary level. While parents may be involved in their children’s education at younger ages, they might not be aware of the importance of sustaining this involvement as their children grow older (Patrikakou, 2004).  

Though the survey did not ask teachers about their teaching methods, further research about how teachers interact with students throughout their lessons might help highlight ways teachers could improve student engagement. Global studies have found a relationship between student behavior and teaching practices. A TALIS report revealed that teachers with a “constructivist” attitude towards teaching (i.e. teachers who take an inclusive and participative approach to carrying out lesson plans) tend to report fewer disciplinary issues in their classrooms; in contrast, teachers who believe in teaching that involves information being directly communicated from the teacher to the student tend to face greater challenges with mischievous behavior (OECD, 2010). A 2012 observational study in Jordan concluded that teachers in Jordan mainly adopted lecturing methods in classrooms rather than student-centered teaching (NCHRD, 2012). Future studies should explore the development of teaching practices in Jordanian schools, and whether these practices are linked to student engagement and academic performance.

The challenge of disengaged students is especially relevant given challenges with student attendance in Jordan. According to the 2012 PISA results, around one in three students in Jordan reported skipping classes in the two weeks preceding the survey compared to less than one in five students in OECD countries (OECD, 2014c). The issue of student engagement is both a professional challenge for teachers and a troubling indicator of student learning outcomes, henceforth deserving of further examination.

Workload

Nearly half (49%) of teachers reported issues related to workload as one of their top three professional challenges. About half (47%) of these workload challenges were related to having too many students, while another 41% of workload challenges were expressed as a burdensome share of classes to teach. An additional 13% of workload challenges involved the quantity of curricular content teachers are required to deliver each year.

Evidence suggests that, on average, Jordanian teachers’ workloads are similar to those of teachers in other countries. In the QRF National Teacher Survey, respondents reported spending 19 hours teaching and 4 hours preparing for lessons each week. By comparison, OECD teachers spend around the same amount of time teaching each week (19.2 hours on average), and significantly more time planning and preparing for lessons (6.7 hours per week) (OECD, 2014b). Similarly, Jordan’s student-teacher ratio in 2013-2014 was 16:1 (MoE), lower than the global average of 18:1 for both primary and secondary education in the same year (UNESCO, 2015b).

Although average teacher workloads in Jordan may be similar to other countries, the QRF National Teacher Survey results suggest that workload varies by governorate, grade level, and school gender. Teachers in the Central region appear to work longer hours: 40% reported teaching more than 20 hours of classes a week, compared to 30% in the South and 33% in the North (p<.05). The gap by grade level was even wider: as Figure 13 shows, just under half (46%) of teachers of pre-primary and lower primary grades reported spending more than 20 hours teaching per week, compared to only 11% of secondary level teachers (p<.001).

Figure 13: MoE Teachers’ Reported Instructional Hours per Week by Grade Level,[4] 2014

Source: QRF National Teacher Survey 2014

Teachers in mixed (co-gendered) schools tended to report spending more time teaching than those in male-only or female-only schools. Forty-seven percent of teachers in mixed schools reported teaching more than 20 hours a week, compared to 27% in female and 35% in male schools (p<.001). However, this may be partially due to the wider range of grades taught in mixed schools – many mixed schools predominantly serve girls but are classified as such due to mixed classes in pre-primary or lower-primary grades. In contrast to the wide gender gaps on other questions of the survey, the gap between male and female teachers was relatively small and not statistically significant: 34% of male teachers reported teaching more than 20 hours per week, compared to 37% of female teachers (p=0.27).

Government data on student-teacher ratios (STRs) further supports this evidence of the variation in workload as experienced by teachers.  As Figure 14 illustrates, STRs vary significantly by governorate and 42% of MoE schools have fewer than 12 students per teacher (MoE, 2015).

Figure 14: Student-Teacher Ratios in MoE Schools by Governorate, 2014

Source: MoE, 2015.

The QRF National Teacher Survey did not include any questions on time spent carrying out tasks unrelated to teaching and lesson-planning. Such tasks may involve collaborating with colleagues, organizing extracurricular activities for students, engaging with students’ parents, or administrative duties such as paperwork, managing the school canteen, etc. Since heavy workload is the one of the most pressing professional challenges reported by Jordanian teachers, more research is needed to form a more complete picture of the issue.

School Environment

While the school environment was not reported as one of the most urgent challenges, school-level issues bear mentioning as they may have a disproportionately high impact on schools affected. For example, 9% of teachers reported school environments as their most pressing professional challenge, and an additional 8% highlighted school infrastructure. Since 92% of the MoE budget is allocated toward staff compensation (Chapman, 2011), little funding remains for physical maintenance of schools.  According to a recent report (Christopherson, 2015), increased numbers of double-shift schools to accommodate incoming Syrian refugee children have been perceived as aggravating these strains on school quality

With respect to social aspects of the school environment, very few teachers reported school violence as one of their top professional challenges, suggesting that other issues are more pressing for the majority of teachers.  On a separate question, teachers were asked to rate the level of violence in their schools on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best, in four different categories: 1) student to student violence, 2) student to teacher violence, 3) teacher to student violence, and 4) parent-teacher violence.[5] Teachers at all-male schools reported greater levels of violence than other teachers. When asked about violence among students at their schools, 18% of teachers in all-male schools reported the worst rating compared to 5% among teachers at all-female schools and 15% at mixed schools (p<.001). Other reports on violence in Jordanian schools found that the bullying rate among male students is 10 percentage points higher than the bullying rate among female students (UNGEI, 2015).

Behavioral problems among students are not only challenging for Jordanian teachers, but for teachers around the world. International teacher survey results have revealed that, on average, one in three teachers report losing substantial time in class because of disruptions caused by delinquent student behavior (OECD, 2014a).


[1] The question regarding professional challenges was an open-ended one and so CSS grouped the various answers into overarching themes. Workload included both the number of lessons taught per day and number of children in the classroom.

[2] Respondents were asked to provide their top three professional challenges. This chart shows the percentage of teachers who mentioned the listed categories among any of their top three challenges.

[3] Other long-term challenges have included low workforce participation, disruption due to regional conflict and dependence on imports for energy and other goods (World Bank, 2015).

[4] Teachers were categorized by the level in which the majority of the grades they taught fell. 33 teachers taught such a wide range of grades that they could not be categorized—they are omitted from Figure 13.

[5]For each category, teachers were asked, “On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the worst, how bad is the problem of physical violence in your school?”

Conclusion

As the first nationally representative survey of public school teachers in Jordan, the QRF National Teacher Survey provides critical information about a cadre of professionals responsible for preparing Jordan’s youth for a continuously changing world. In particular, it highlighted the positive attitudes of teachers about their lives and profession despite the many challenges they face. The survey also provided key data on teachers’ professional needs, including pre-service and in-service training and support in tackling challenges like improving student and parent engagement and managing workloads.

The QRF National Teacher Survey also exposed important areas for future research. More detailed information about teachers’ university and pre-service training experiences would help identify gaps in teacher preparation and support better targeting of resources. Research on the types of informal, school-based professional support teachers receive, as well as how useful this support is compared to other forms of professional development could inform development of future in-service training programs. Future national surveys could improve on the questions asked in this survey to enable more definitive comparisons of motivations and attitudes between various subgroups of teachers. Finally, using the survey findings on the key challenges teachers reported, research and programs could be developed to improve support available to teachers in their endeavor in educating children in Jordan.