A study of the motivation and demotivation of teachers in primary schools at the beginning of the 21st century

Addison, Rosemary (2004). A study of the motivation and demotivation of teachers in primary schools at the beginning of the 21st century. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000c011


This study, carried out by a practising primary school headteacher, is an investigation into the factors that motivate and demotivate teachers in Primary Schools at the beginning of the 21" Century, and the extent to which these factors are affected by ethnographic and demographic characteristics. Despite the focus of the Department for Education and Skills in recent decades on raising standards, the literature review reveals the above sphere of research to be under-represented, particularly in England. The study used a mixed methodological approach, making use of strategies from the qualitative and quantitative paradigms in both data collection, and the subsequent analysis and presentation of the findings. The range of methodology and an initial pilot helped to ensure validity and reliability of the information gathered. The study focused on a representative sample of six schools and data was collected using questionnaires, field diaries and interviews over a period of six months. The sample was deliberately small to facilitate a detailed investigation: as research does not have to be large scale to be of value (Langveld, 1965). Although scope for generalisation is limited, it is anticipated that the findings will be of interest and of practical relevance, to other professionals working in this field: the relatability of a case study, being more important, than its generality (Bassey, 1984).

The data collected has been categorised, coded and presented in a range of matrices. Mathematical tests of correlation and significance have then been applied as necessary. The conclusion of the study is that the principal sources of motivation for teachers are, children being well motivated, interested or well behaved, and the experience of a sense of achievement that comes from a completed or enjoyable task. Conversely the principal sources of demotivation are the long hours and heavy workload associated with the role, and children behaving badly or showing a lack of interest in their work. Demographically and ethnographically there are differences between the schools and their staff in terms of both motivation and demotivation but no patterns emerged that were overwhelmingly significant. The study ends with a consideration of its limitations and the implications of the findings. The sources of motivation and demotivation vary from school to school, and from individual to individual, and although there are many decisions over which a school has no control, much can be done at a local level within the school, to manage teacher motivation. The leaders of schools need to address the sources of motivation and demotivation separately in order to minimise their negative impact and to maximise the positive. On a wider scale however, it is clear that the government needs to provide strong support for the leaders of schools in managing behaviour on school premises, and that schools need to be given the resources to support teachers in enabling them to fulfil their roles effectively.

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