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The other side of teacher motivation

MacCallum, J. and Morcom, V. (2011) The other side of teacher motivation. In: Symposium.American Educational Research Association (AERA) 2011, 8th April 2011, New Orleans, LA



Purpose This paper examines motivation of four teachers to develop aspects of their instructional practice in an Australian primary school. Perspectives Framed within a sociocultural perspective that positions motivation as social in nature, the paper explores the complex relationships between the social world and the world of the individual (Walker, 2010). Method One teacher developed a collaborative classroom in 2004 using a range of strategies (such as social circle, class agreements, weekly class meeting) to engage students in decision-making about their learning (MacCallum & Morcom, 2008; Morcom & MacCallum, 2009). This paper is based on the teacher’s implementation of a collaborative classroom in a second primary school in 2007, and her subsequent mentoring of three colleagues (two experienced and one second-year teacher) to introduce more interactive elements into their classroom practice. The classes of two teachers included students who had been taught by the teacher mentor in previous years. The study was principally qualitative and data sources included interviews (with the teachers, students and their parents), reflective journals of the teachers and researcher, and classroom observation. Transcripts of dialogue and interview responses were examined for motivation concepts, such as interest, self-efficacy, self-competence and value (Murphy & Alexander, 2000; Watt & Richardson, 2007), and documented in relation to the contexts in which they emerged and changed over time. Rogoff’s (1995, 2003) three planes (personal, interpersonal and community) were used as an interpretative framework. Rogoff (1995) maintains it is incomplete to consider “the relationship of individual development and social interaction without concern for the cultural activity in which personal and interpersonal actions take place” (p. 141). Thus in this kind of analysis, each plane in turn is fore-grounded with the other planes in the background allowing consideration of the contributions from individuals, their social partners, and historical traditions and materials. Thus teacher interactions with each other, with students, parents and colleagues are important at the interpersonal plane, and school and wider educational issues at the community plane. Results The first teacher was interested, self-efficacious and confident to develop her practice, and her motivation was supported by the changing outcomes she observed in the students in the class. While acknowledging the conflicting messages about her instructional approach from the school system and research findings, school principal, some parents and colleagues, she was able to sustain her motivation to continually develop her practice. The three teachers whom she mentored struggled to change aspects of their practice. They were interested in doing so for the benefit of their students and valued the approach modelled, but had difficulty maintaining self-efficacy as they negotiated the expectations of the principal and parents. The paper explores each teacher’s action in turn. The teachers’ motivation to develop their practice in particular ways cannot be explained fully by considering the individuals or the context alone. Significance By using a sociocultural perspective and examining the motivation of more experienced teachers as they act to change their practice, this study contributes to our understanding of the complex and dynamic nature of teacher motivation.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
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