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The Relationship between Teacher’s Teaching Style and Students’ Academic Engagement

Abdull Sukor Shaari, Nurahimah Mohd Yusoff, Izam Mohd Ghazali, Rafisah HjOsman, Nur Fatirah Mohd DzahirUniversiti Utara Malaysia, Malaysia.

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Authors’ Note

Abdull Sukor Shaari, Department of Education, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Malaysia; Nurahimah Mohd Yusoff, Department of Education, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Malaysia; Izam Mohd Ghazali, Department of Education, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Malaysia; Rafisah HjOsman, Nur Fatirah Mohd Dzahir, Department of Education, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Malaysia.


The undergraduate intellectual excellence is known to be the primary motivation for any instructive organization and institution.

In order to guarantee that intellectual excellence can be accomplished, it requires activity and participation from all sides. The basic key to teaching and learning is an appealing environment which also promotes encouragement and enjoyment because the undergraduates’ capacities and eagerness to learn does not only depends upon the understudy themselves but moreover, lie within the appropriateness of teaching style (Felder & Henrique, 1995).

Most conducted research about undergraduates’ improvement appears that the time and vitality the undergraduate commit into educationally persuaded exercises is the single best indicator of their learning and individual improvement (Astin, 1993; Pascarella, 2001).

Hence, those institutions that involve their undergraduate more within the assortment of activities’ that contribute to fruitful results of institution can claim to be of higher quality in comparison with other educational institutions.

In the opinion of Newman (1992), undergraduate commitment is described as the undergraduates’ mental speculation and the endeavor directed toward learning, comprehension, and acing information, abilities, or artworks that intellectual work means to advance. Something other than the vitality to finish the task, commitment conveys to the mental venture that subjectively includes undergraduate in the work they are doing. The studies found that undergraduate involvement is one of the critical indicators of their intellectual execution. A undergraduate should progressively be engaged with college life to perform intellectually .

The proposition of Astin (1984) about undergraduates’ involvement claims that undergraduates’ intellectual commitment impacts mental improvement all throughout his or her journey in college life.

Referring to Grasha and Hicks (2000) proclaims that to be able to fulfill the adequacy of the teaching and learning progress, it is insufficient to concentrate only on the undergraduates’ learning style. Teaching styles are likewise considered to be a vital component in a lesson. As reviewed by Grasha, the teaching style used by the instructor marks the conviction, execution, and conduct when teaching. In this study, there are five types of teaching style which are expert style, formal authority style, personal model style, delegator style and facilitator style as indicated by Grasha (1996).

Many researches contribute to acknowledge the relativity among teaching styles and undergraduates’ accomplishment, for example, the investigation by Zin (2004) and Aitkin & Zuzovsky (1994). There is also an examination that combines teaching along undergraduates’ psychological styles (Evans, 2004). Previous examinations on the commitment of undergraduate found that there is a correlation between undergraduates’ engagement and the teaching and intellectual accomplishment (OECD, 2000). Nonetheless, their studies found that teaching is not the principal factor influencing the intellectual accomplishment of undergraduates.

Studies with respect to college teaching style are less revealed, particularly the teaching styles that are identified with undergraduates’ involvement. Therefore, this research will response to inquiries of what is the predominant teaching style polished by institutional instructors and whether there is a relation between the instructor’s teaching style and undergaduates’ involvement.

Review of Related Literature

Good instructors can flatter and motivate although there are strict and emotional instructors. Researches have found that most instructors teach based on how they initially learned it (Stitt-Gohdes, 2001) and how it was taught to them (Bailey, Bergthold, Braunstein, Fleischman, Holbrook, Tuman, Waissbluth, & Zambo, 1996).

To define teaching styles, various researchers use different definitions. Peacock (2001) stated that the teaching style is the approach of how someone teaches naturally, habitual, inclination or perhaps a custom that is used to convey data and skills within the classroom. There is also a complex mix of beliefs, attitudes, strategies, techniques, drive, personality and control in one’s teaching style, as claimed by Wright (1987). The teaching styles of instructors are visible in the progress of teaching and learning. The style of teaching depends on personal attitudes and qualities. As per Gregore (1989), the teaching styles of instructors are their personal conduct and the media they use are for transmitting information and data to the undergraduates. Grasha (1996) revealed that teaching styles represent the pattern of instructors’ needs, beliefs and behaviour in the classroom.

Onstein and Miller (1980) have categorized two types of teaching styles, the expressive teaching styles and the instrumental teaching style. Expressive style includes the warmth, authority, sympathy, trust, and some emotional aspects the teacher shown to the class. It refers to the created emotional relationship of the instructor to the undergraduates. The instructor and undergraduates’ interpersonal relationships are part of this teaching style and are linked to learning attitudes. Expressive teaching style controls the students, manages classroom activities and positive or negative teaching feelings. In addition, it is also linked to a sense of trust in undergraduate and understands the purpose of education in general. Instructors who practice this style are commonly used as a mentor and can tolerate undergraduates. Instructors also believed that there are best ways to learn about learning for undergraduate. The instrumental style, on the other hand, refers to the way instructors perform the task of helping undergraduates, planning the lesson, setting the classroom standard and ensuring that undergraduates meet the standards set.

Cornsten and Miller (1980) proposed a model based on the expressive and instrumental teaching styles. In this model, there are four styles categorized with teaching style consisting task solving style, mastery style, problem solvers and humanist. The expressive dimensions of this model reflect emotional commitment while the instrumental dimension involves the behaviour of students.

Jarvin (1985) classified three teaching methods:

a) Controlled teaching style through lectures and notes.

b) Socratic style is when instructor asks, and students answer.

c) Facilitator style is when an instructor creates the learning interaction and the students are entitled to their own studies.

The teaching style, as claimed by Kramlinger and Huberty (1990), is also classified from the point of view of humanism, behaviorism and cognitivism. Humanism stresses personal experience in which the teacher pursues undergraduates to share their experiences and perspectives. Teaching humanism is in line with undergraduates of pragmatism, reflection and activism. Behavioral style reinforces the required behavior by rewarding the undergraduates who can control the desired behavior. Pragmatic and activists’ undergraduate suit this style. Cognitivism is the traditional institutional approach where information is presented logically through lectures. Theoretical students prefer this style.

Doherty (2003) proposed another teaching style model as:

1. Style A: Order – All decisions are made by the instructor

2. Style B: Drill – Tasks given by the instructor are fulfilled by undergraduate

3. Style C: Reciprocal –Undergraduate complete tasks by pairs

4. Style D: Check yourself – Self-assessment of student of their own performance

5. Style E: Inclusion – Teacher will plan while undergraduate assess their own work

6. Style F: Guided Exploration –Undergraduates will solve the problem using the guidelines given and the assistance of an instructor

7. Style G: Divergent –Undergraduate solve problems with an instructor using a guideline given

8. Individual Style –Instructor choose the content of programs while undergraduates plan it

9. Student Initiative Style – Undergraduate plans their own program and the teacher will only act as an adviser

10. Self-Instructional Style – Undergraduates are responsible for their own learning

Conti (1985) and Ladd (1995) attempted to identify the different natures of teaching, such as instructors need to have a dominant style of teaching. But some researchers prefer to create their own indicators to know the differences of teaching styles. In result to this, there are forms produced in measurement of these distinctness and various definitions of teaching style are developed (Allen, 1988; Dunn & Dunn, 1979; Grasha, 2003).

To measure the analytic holistic teaching style, Evans (2004) formed the Teaching Style Questionnaire (TSQ) for trainee instructors of a yearly training program for postgraduate certificate in United Kingdom. Among analytical and holistic style of teaching, analytical got the higher score based on the questionnaire. The holistic style is more formal, flexible, interactive, spontaneous and full individual attention. The style is more concerned with worldwide learning, learning progress and teamwork. Analytical style is also more formal, controlled, direct, structured, sequential and detailed than holistic. Individuals with this style prefer to wake up alone and to be more impersonal, more inflexible and more detailed in their communication with undergraduates.

Peacock (2001) mentioned that the teaching styles depend on the ethnicity about the factors influencing the style, just as how he found that Chinese instructors avoid auditory styles. The objective and design of courses, learning institutions’ standards and institutional discipline are also influenced by the teaching style. For example, the expert style or formal authority was more preferred in large classes. Gender, seniority, and time also influenced their way of teaching (Chapman, Hughes, & Wiliam, 2001). In addition, the ideology and beliefs of undergraduate also influenced the style of teaching of instructors as per Zhorik (1990).

The compatibility of teaching styles also grabs the attention of various researchers. There are studies that suggest that the teaching styles that parallels with undergraduates’ learning style improves learning, attitudes, behavior, and motivation (Felder and Henriques, 1995; Tudor, 1996). The way an instructor delivers a lesson is based on her communication skills. Using the Myers Briggs Inventory, Sturt (2000) analyzed the teaching styles based on personality theories with sixteen categories. The categories were measured by four groups of Extrovert-Introvert, Sensing-Intuition, Thinking-Feeling, and Judgmental-Perception.

Instructors more often use progressive teaching style in a study by Chia (1997). The study was in accordance with the developed instrument of Bennet et al (1976). On the other hand, Noriah and Mohamed (2003) found that during the progress of learning and teaching teachers prefer being the delegator and facilitator.

Grasha Teaching Style (1996)

Although there are various types of teaching style, this segment will only look at the teaching style recommended by Grasha. According to Anthony Grasha (1996), there are five different teaching styles namely expert style, formal authority, personal model, facilitator and delegator. He emphasized that these five teaching styles are gathered into four categories. The first group includes an expert style and formal authority style. The personal model style, expert style and formal authority style covers the second group while the third group includes facilitator style, personal model style and expert style. Lastly, the fourth group includes delegator style, facilitator together with expert style.

In expert style, the instructors who have understanding and mastery in a topic is highlighted. Instructors who practiced this style strives to motivate their undergraduates to outshine and teach in a detailed and profundity. Instructors who used this style focused in delivering knowledge and ensures that undergraduates are well prepared. Formal authority style is when a instructor provides optimistic and pessimistic criticism to undergraduates. They assume that the teaching should be done in a quality, precise and must be recognized by undergraduates which establish teaching goals, assumptions and conduct. Instructors prefer planned teaching with this style.

In personal model style, teaching shall be accomplished by using personal examples and act as a prototype to undergraduate on how to think and act. They guide undergraduates to visualize things and inspires to imitate their approach afterwards. Facilitator style accentuate the nature of relationship between instructor and undergraduates. They give instructions by asking questions, allow options to improve, suggesting alternatives and give basis for choices. Its main goal is to enhance undergraduates’ ability to become an independent and disciplined. Instructors prefer using projects and provides support and encouragement in this style.

Likewise, delegator style focused on undergraduates’ ability to work self-reliantly on projects. If necessary, instructors will help and serve as the main source of information to undergraduates. However, the possibility to misread undergraduates’ preparation to do a task will lead to disadvantageous of this style because some undergraduates might feel worried when given autonomy.

Previous Studies on Student Engagement

The undergraduate commitment in the school is divided into two parts. First, the commitment of undergraduates in learning, while the second is the commitment of undergraduates in the school community. Studies found that undergraduates’ involvement at school is an important factor of undergraduates’ commitment. There are plenty of forms and ways of undergraduates’ commitment. For instance, they are actively associated with school exercises, dynamic in the classroom, adjustment to the culture of the school, build strongly bound relationship with instructors and peers. In addition, gender are one of the components that impact the undergraduates’ involvement. In that case, female is more actively to join in any school activities and more likely to be studious in the classroom. Studies claimed that coming from a family with higher education impact undergraduates more progressively involve in school and it is found that undergraduates who seek to pursue higher education afterwards will be engaged effectively in school. They are known to be prepared for future. They also often take part in school activities unlike to those undergraduates who are not interested to pursue their studies after school. Being comfortable with environment and culture of the school will be active learners and their commitment in school will increase and influence their intellectual performance.

Marcsh (1992) indicated that, being active in school activities will have a positive outcome that will boost undergraduates more in school exercises. It will secondarily affect the undergraduates’ intellectual accomplishment. Additionally, undergraduates will have a disciplined and committed naturally. In similarity to Gerber’s (1996) study conducted by the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS) to look at whether there is a similarity between undergraduates’ commitment in school and intellectual accomplishment.

As indicated by the OECD Program for International Students (2000), there is a relativity between undergraduates’ commitment and intellectual accomplishment in affecting culture of the school which comprises a devoted instructors, respectful and a lively learning surroundings. The study also discovered that undergraduates who felt his belongingness at the school will change the way on how they cooperate in class. Moreover, the attitude and behavior are found to be an indispensible factor that can determine the undergraduates’ intellectual commitment. Completing the appointed task, being attentive and taking actively in exercises contain the undergraduates’ mentalities. Undergraduates who are not actively participating in school those who have problems in dealing with the society. This is a major problems faced by undegraduates around the world.

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