How does neoliberal performance management affect teachers’ perceived motivations to ‘improve’?

Proudfoot, Kevin Ian (2018) How does neoliberal performance management affect teachers’ perceived motivations to ‘improve’? PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This study investigates teachers’ perceptions of the factors that motivate them to ‘improve’ or develop their practice. In the neoliberal policy context of the education system in England, performance management represents a motivational approach because of its linkage of outcomes with reward or punishment. This study contributes by evaluating the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations which might incentivise (or dis-incentivise) teachers to change their practice. The concept of performativity is considered, examining the extent to which teachers perceive they are motivated by influences such as the school inspection system, performance-related pay and numeric targets. The fraught concept of ‘improvement’ is discussed, including the potentially conflicting notions of ‘performance management’ and ‘professional development’. The emphasis of this mixed methods study is on teachers’ voices, which are often silenced or marginalised within the present neoliberal policy context. The study therefore conducts an ordinal factor analysis of a survey of qualified teachers, using self-determination theory as the underlying construct. This is further subject to Kruskal-Wallis tests for variance between groups. Qualitative data is gathered from semi-structured interviews with working teachers and examined using a hybrid inductive/deductive thematic approach to analysis. Based on a complementary synthesis and drawing on an integrative theorisation of motivation extending beyond self-determination theory, two overarching areas of teacher motivation are identified as being in tension: constitutive motivation, which includes the educational best interests of children, the pleasure of teaching and a sense of autonomous mastery, and instrumental motivation, arising from external impetuses to ‘perform’. Teachers’ constitutive motivations are found to engender authentic professional development and this has clear implications for effective school leadership.

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Thesis (PhD)
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10 Aug 2018 08:14
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 05:42