The teacher appraisal interview

Diffey, Keith Russell (1991). The teacher appraisal interview. PhD thesis The Open University.


Teacher appraisal is one of the key educational issues of the 1980s and 1990s. Developments have been-taking place at both national and local levels, and in the near future, many schools will be obliged to adopt some form of appraisal system. In setting the context for this research, attention is drawn to the purposes and types of appraisal, its major benefits and drawbacks, and the common features of existing schemes.

Most teacher appraisal schemes maýe the appraisal "interview" the focal activity, and therefore the effectiveness of the system, is dependent upon the quality of the interaction during the interview itself. Thus, the central aim of this research is to find out more about what goes on in such meetings.

In one school eleven case-study appraisal interviews were audio-taped, and intensive analysis of both "content" and "process" was applied. The methodology employed is primarily qualitative and interpretive in nature.

Each interview is described in detail, making extensive use of quotations where necessary. The evaluation of each encounter provides valuable insights into the behaviour of participants. Semi-structured interviews with staff from the study school afford additional data. A number of generalities and issues emerge, in relation to both interview content and process.

The results are enhanced by making use of certain theoretical concepts from the science of social psychology, including role theory, social psychological orientations, and interactionist perspectives.

The implications of this research are considered, in particular the need to train staff in the skills of appraisal interviewing. The characteristics of 'good practice' in a teacher appraisal interview are also discussed.

It is concluded that the behaviour of participants in a teacher appraisal interview is a function of role, relationship, personality, and the intricacies of transactional processes. A dramaturgical perspective provides an appropriate language for describing typical interview behaviour. A typology of teacher appraisal interviews is also developed.

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