An interaction of teacher and school variables: assessing influences on secondary teacher motivation, retention, school participation, and professional development

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Vaughan, Angela Lynn

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The purpose of the study was to investigate the relationship of individual and schoolrelated variables with secondary teachers’ self-determination and commitment. Of particular interest for this study was Edward Deci’s work, which began linking motivation and selfdetermination theory over twenty years ago. Deci and others have repeatedly demonstrated that self-determination helps to increase levels of intrinsic motivation as well as levels of internalization and achievement. However, the majority of this self-determination research has focused on students in educational settings and employees in work organizations, whereas little has been conducted to assess how similar forces are at work in the lives of secondary teachers. To address this gap in the literature, a model was proposed to illustrate the interaction of individual and school-related factors that were hypothesized to support teacher self-determination and subsequently, professional commitment. viii The teacher-level variables included were motivational orientation, gender, years of experience, and educational background. The school-related variables were the level of perceived positive relationships within a school and each school’s accountability ratings. Selfdetermination, as the dependent variable, was measured in terms of perceived autonomy, relatedness, and competence. In the second set of analyses, self-determination was the independent variable and professional commitment was the dependent variable. The subjects were 924 secondary teachers from 75 schools within three urban school districts located within one southwestern state. All subjects completed a self-report questionnaire that include d items measuring each component of the model. Due to the nature of the model where teachers were nested within schools, hierarchical linear modeling was used to conduct the analysis. Results suggested that motivational orientation, years of experience, and level of positive relationships within a school were significantly related to teachers’ perceived levels of self-determination and accounted for approximately 45% of the total variance in the dependent variable. Teachers’ gender, educational background and school accountability ratings did not have a significant relationship with self-determination. Additionally, there was a significant positive relationship between self-determination and both intrinsic motivation for teaching and professional commitment accounting for approximately 36% and 12% of the total variance in these outcomes, respectively. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.