Relationship between teacher characteristics and effectiveness of project method in pre-schools in Kikuyu District, Kenya
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The purpose of the study was to investigate the relationship between teacher characteristics and the effectiveness of project method of teaching. The study was guided by the motivation (Maslow, 1970) and constructivist (Piaget, 1980) theories. The study had six research questions based on the teachers characteristics namely; academic qualifications, training, experience, age, attitude to use of project method and knowledge on use of the method. The study covered 540 teachers, 150 from public and 390 from private pre-schools in Kikuyu district. A sample size of 20% (10% of each stratum) was drawn through stratified random sampling. Interview schedules, closed-ended questionnaires, structured observation schedules and documentary analysis forms were the main instrurrtents used to collect data that was calculated in percentages and frequencies and presented in tables. The findings indicated that 99% (n=53) of the preschool teachers were of secondary school qualifications. Their training status indicated that 68.5% (n=37) of the teachers were certificate trained, 16.7% (n=9) were diploma trained and effected the project approach while 14.8% (n=8) were untrained and ineffective. Of the teachers interviewed, 37% (n=20) had a teaching experience of 0-3 years and effected the project method, while 16.7% (n=9) had a teaching experience of over 13 years and were not effective. Diploma teachers who formed 16.7% (n=9) had positive attitude towards use of project method of teaching. In addition, younger teachers effected the project approach better than their older counter parts, which may suggest that experience may not be a key factor in effecting the project method. In addition, 29.6% (n=16) of the teachers in the study had some knowledge on project method of teaching. The following recommendations were made based on the fmdings discussed above: the government should strengthen the two year pre service course by entrenching in the training manuals practical activities based on the use of project method in order to produce pre-school teachers who are adequately grounded on the use of project method. The government should also hire and remunerate teachers adequately in order to retain them in pre-schools. Finally, the government should use all its mechanisms and especially the print and electronic media, public rallies to sensitize people on the benefits of the project method of teaching. This will produce independent and self actualized persons who are capable of solving life's problems.