Re: can a better pedal improve my technique?
When I started playing and got my own kit I was using a cheapie Tama pedal, probably the same thing you're using with a single chain and no bottom plate. It clicks and clacks and slides from side to side when I play. I bought an Axis shortboard and played on it for a bit. Went back and forth between the Tama and the Axis for a while. I went through a 2 month phase where I played the Tame because I thought I liked the chain drive better. When I tried the Axis out again I was amazed at how much cleaner my foot technique sounded.
The moral of this is that a good pedal will not be a substitute for good technique and hours or practice but it will certainly help. I use a few different cheapie chain drive pedals when I take lessons. I do notice a difference and I can play much better on my own pedal.
What I would recommend is try out as many different pedals as you can, either on a friend's kit, at the store or (my favorite) buying them used on Craigslist. Take your time and fiddle around with the adjustments till you know the pedal in and out. Buy a dirty Speedking and clean it up, PM me if you need some links on this. The pedal should feel like an extension of your right foot that is used to play your bass. Practice, practice and more practice will help develop your technique but a good, dialed in pedal will allow you properly utilize that technique.