Effects Of Teacher Characteristics On The Classroom Climate Of Preschools In Ongata Rongai Zone, Kajiado North District, Kenya
A positive classroom climate fosters holistic growth in the children since they experience the classroom as not just an intellectual space, but also as a social, emotional, and physical environment. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of teacher characteristics on the classroom climate of preschools in Ongata Rongai zone, Kajiado North District, Kenya. The study adopted a descriptive survey design to explore how teacher qualifications, experience, training and gender affect the preschool classroom climate. To achieve the above objectives, the study used a sample of fourteen preschools sampled from forty eight preschools in the zone. The sample sizes comprised of ten private preschools and four public preschools. The study also used a sample of forty two preschool teachers chosen randomly in each of the preschools. Self completion questionnaires were filled by forty two preschool teachers and fourteen headteachers. The researcher used two assessment tools to seek information on the effects of the teacher characteristics on classroom climate. The first was the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised. A modified version of the Work Sampling System was the second assessment tool used in the study. It was used to evaluate the development of the children within the various classes where the teachers had been assessed. This was done in order to ascertain whether the classroom climate a particular teacher created affected the growth of the children in various domains. Qualitative and quantitative data was descriptively analyzed through descriptive statistics like frequencies, percentages incorporated in a Likert-type scale in the assessment tools to support different themes. These results show that a preschool teacher having a high school certificate created a better classroom climate than one with a primary certificate. The results reveal that training had greatly influence on the cognitive aspects of the classroom climate while it does not so much matter when it comes to the physical and social development of the children since the untrained teacher can even use natural maternal instincts in caring for the children as all the teachers used in the sample were female. Children taught by untrained teachers scored better in the physical development domain because their teachers compensated for their inadequate pedagogical skills in delivering class content by allowing the children to have more play time. The results indicated that more years of experience results in a better classroom climate. This was noted across all the various domains of the ECERS-R assessment. The study shows that neither female nor male teachers were better than the other rather it was a case of each bringing their unique capabilities for the benefit of the children. Based on the findings it was recommended that schools should be provided with teachers who are well trained and that more male preschool teachers should be hired to complement the skills of the female preschool teachers. Taking the limitations and delimitation of the study it was suggested similar studies should be conducted using multiple measures of climate and/or achievement in other parts of the country. This could involve using other preschool classroom climate assessment tools such as Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) or Child Observation Record (COR) to compare with the current results. It was also suggested that the effects of the preschool teachers’ attitude and beliefs on the preschool classroom climate should be investigated.