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What motivates you to engage in postgraduate study?

What motivates you to engage in postgraduate study?
Tuesday 27th July 2021

1Postgraduate study is a little bit like dieting, in that the slower and the longer you take to do it the rewards are more likely to be long lasting, and it is more likely to change your habit as a teacher.

In my PhD research I investigated the motivations of over 200 teachers in Christian schools to engage in postgraduate study. This was before the days of mandatory hours of PD for teachers and also Fee Help. My study used an expectancy-value model adapted from the 2Eccles and Wigfield (2002) Expectancy-Value Model of Achievement to explore the motivations of teachers for engagement in postgraduate study.

My study indicated that factors within the Task Value component of the Model of Motivation for Postgraduate Study were more influential in motivating teachers to engage in postgraduate courses than the factors grouped within the Expectation of Success component. In addition, the study demonstrated that teachers at the middle stage of their teaching careers were more likely to engage in postgraduate study than those at the beginning or towards the end of their careers. Multiple contributory factors influenced these teachers in their pursuit of postgraduate study. Particular factors identified as “motivators” included improving pedagogical skills and increasing subject knowledge, understanding the underlying philosophy behind educational trends and being equipped to teach from a Christian worldview. In addition, progression in career path through advancement or career change and the credibility of a postgraduate qualification were significant motivating factors.

Important and influential “demotivators” included time pressures, such as teachers’ workload, and responsibilities of family and church life, and the financial cost of undertaking such study. Additional influences of educators’ personal and professional backgrounds contributed to enhancing or hindering motivation and these influences included gender, age, school in which they taught and position in school.

Implications for tertiary institutions arising out of the study included ensuring that postgraduate courses have relevant content, and are well structured and flexible to cater for the demands of teachers’ workloads. In the Faculty of Education at Morling College we have taken note of these implications and we currently offer a Master of Education or Master of Education (Leadership) that is delivered online and enables teachers and school leaders to understand the implications of a Christian worldview in education and to be better equipped to serve students and improve student outcomes.

1Comment made by a teacher in an interview as part of the study.
2Eccles, J. S. & Wigfield, A. (2002). Motivational beliefs, values and goals. Annual Review Psychology, 53, 109-132.

Pam Harvey

Written by Pam Harvey

Dean of Education - Pam is passionate about Christian education and over the years has had great satisfaction in helping numerous teachers and pre-service teachers develop a sound philosophy and practice of Christian education. She has been involved in Christian education for over thirty years, working in Australia and Indonesia where she was Head of Curriculum and Primary Education at a Christian university near Jakarta.

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