(Re)Conceptualising Effective Teaching in Further Education: An Exploratory Study

Neil Smothers, Brendan Cropley, Sheldon Hanton, Alan McKay, Tom Williams

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Government-led reforms in the Further Education (FE) sector in the UK have highlighted the impact that FE institutions can have on national productivity and economic growth. This has resulted in growing calls to support the performance of FE teachers in the classroom. There is a paucity of research that has considered effective teaching practice within the unique context of FE. To address this gap, we sampled 90 full-time FE teaching staff, who participated in one of 12 in-depth focus groups, which aimed to: (a) develop a working definition of effective teaching in FE; (b) examine the characteristics of effective FE teachers; and (c) explore the process of effective FE teaching and the factors that may impact on this. Using thematic analysis, a definition was constructed that considered effective teaching practice to be a learner-centred process that facilitated learners’ basic psychological needs resulting in a range of holistic outcomes. A number of effective FE teacher characteristics were also identified and categorised into four main themes: knowledgeable; professional skills; personal qualities; and interpersonal qualities. Finally, institutional-, learner-, and teacher-derived issues (e.g., institutional targets; learner expectations; teacher doubts over ability) were identified as factors that may influence the effectiveness of practice in FE. Our findings offer a unique insight into a context-specific conceptualisation of teacher effectiveness that can potentially support the training and development of FE teachers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)620-635
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education
Issue number5
Early online date2 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2022


  • Basic psychological needs
  • holistic development
  • personal growth
  • care


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