Dilemmas in Teaching – Literature review Example

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The paper “ Dilemmas in Teaching” is a dramatic variant of literature review on education. Many at times teachers are confronted with myriad of dilemmas in their course of everyday teaching experiences. Classrooms comprise learners from different backgrounds, learners with different learning capabilities, and learners with special needs and it has always been a challenging task for many teachers. Teachers need to design lessons to accommodate all learners irrespective of their learning challenges. Earlier before the 1960s, it was believed that achievement in learners was dependent on factors such as heredity, family background, and socioeconomic background but not schools or teachers (Business Council of Australia, 2008: 11). Research studies have emerged to disapprove this argument.

According to Greenwald et al. , (1996), there are significant grounds to prove that learner achievement is dependent on teacher quality. Overcoming challenges or dilemmas in the course of instruction is a major determinant factor of teacher quality. Shapira-Lishchinsky (2011: 648) highlights the fact that teachers face numerous ethical dilemmas in their day to day practice. Professional teachers are required to have some characteristics that are helpful in motivating learners.

Intrinsic motivation among the learners has been found to be a crucial factor dictating the kind of performance outcome at the end of classroom instruction (Bolkan, Goodboy & Griffin, 2011: 339). Effective classroom management and teaching have always been attributed to good professional teaching characteristics. Many scholars have presented their arguments in line with these characteristics and notably, they are numerous. A research study conducted on a number of students where they were asked to give some of the characteristics of educators who had impacted their lives revealed several characteristics that were similar for all learners (Walker, 2008: Xi).

Among these characteristics given by these learners include the educator having compassionate feelings, treating all learners fairly and with respect, accomplishing his or her tasks creatively, and making the learners feel they were part of the class. Dilemmas in teaching can easily be subdued if a teacher is intellectually capable, culturally sensitive, compassionate, and morally responsible. This essay will discuss each of these characteristics and how they help in overcoming dilemmas in teaching. Arguments will be supported by various scholarly works. Perhaps the best way to begin this discussion is by trying to understand who an effective teacher and what quality teaching is.

Many scholars have always argued that the learning environment is a crucial factor necessary for effective learning. Teachers play a key role in creating this environment and it all depends on the activities and learning resources chosen. In addition to this, teachers play a key role in motivating the learners and developing investigative minds among the learners. Teachers who are capable of developing these qualities among the learners are regarded as effective teachers (McClelland & Varma, 2012: 59).

In an almost a similar manner, Walker (2008) defines an effective teacher to be that teacher known to be successful in teaching. Research studies have emerged to disapprove of the earlier proposition that effective teachers are born not made (Scott & Dinham, 2008). This will imply that being an effective teacher is not inborn ability but rather it can be developed. Designing a learning environment which comprises of all these characteristics requires an intellectually capable teacher. Teachers need to be adaptive to learner qualities and they should be able to design their lessons depending on the qualities of a learner.

Another major intriguing concept is meeting the requirements of all learners at once. As earlier stated, classrooms comprise of learners with different learning capabilities. According to the Business Council of Australia (2008) journal, the intellectual capability of a teacher affects teacher’ s representation of learning content, selection of learning activities and resources, sustenance of quality discussion, classroom management, the capability of diagnosing learning challenges of different learners and student assessment. Generally, intellectual capability is crucial in the three stages of learning; planning stage, actual classroom instruction, and assessment.

Poor planning will result in poor instruction and subsequently the final assessment. Effective teachers are known to engage in quality teaching. Findings have also shown that there is a direct correlation between effective teachers and their intellectual capabilities (OECD, 2005: 99). Similarly, studies have also a direct correlation between the academic qualifications of a teacher and learners’ achievement (OECD, 2005: 99). The research was conducted on teachers being administered with tests.

Their results were compared to those of their learners. This research study indicated those teachers with good results had their learners performing well. Therefore, intellectual capability makes effective teachers. Effective teachers are capable of planning their ideas, use their cognition in the planning process, and communicate their ideas consistently. Teacher’ s intellectual capability affects many areas of pedagogy. People should therefore not perceive teaching as a career that any individual can do.


Bolkan, S., Goodboy, A. K. & Griffin, D. J. (2011). Teacher Leadership and Intellectual Stimulation: Improving Students’ Approaches to Studying through Intrinsic Motivation. Communication Research Reports, 28(4): 337-346.

Business Council of Australia. (2008). Teaching Talent: The Best Teachers for Australia’s Classrooms. Melbourne: Business Council of Australia.

Gibbs, J. T., & Huang, L. N. (1998). Children of Color: Psychological interventions with culturally diverse youth. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Greenwald, R., Hedges, L. V. & Laine, R. D. (1996). The Effect of School Resources on Student Achievement. Review of Educational Research, 66: 361-396.

Lumpkin, A. (2008). Teachers as Role Models Teaching Character and Moral Values. Journal of Physical Education Recreation and Dance, 79(2): 45-49.

McClelland, V. A. & Varma, V. P. (2012). Advances in Teacher Education, (Vol 227). New York: Routledge.

Metropolitan Center for Urban Education (MCUE). (2008). Culturally Responsive Classroom Management Strategies. New York: NYU Steinhardt.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2005). Teachers Matter: Attracting, Developing, and Retaining Effective Teachers. Paris: OECD.

Pigford, T. (2001). Improving teacher-student relationships: What’s up with that? Clearing House, 74(6): 337-339.

Scott, C. & Dinham, S. (2008). Born not Made: The nativist Myth and Teachers’ Thinking. Teacher Development: An International Journal of Teachers’ Professional Development, 12(2): 115-224.

Shapira-Lishchinsky, O. (2011). Teachers’ Critical Incidents: Ethical Dilemmas in Teaching Practice. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27: 648-656.

Stronge, J. H. (2007). Qualities of Effective Teachers. Alexandria: ASCD.

Walker, R. J. (2008). 12 Characteristics of an Effective Teacher. Raleigh: Lulu.com.

Westwood, P. (2004). Learning and Learning Difficulties: A Handbook for Teachers. Victoria: ACER Press.

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