Teacher career motivation and professional development in special and inclusive education in China

  • Y Feng

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Limited evidence is available from the existing literature that relates teachers' career motivation to their attitudes towards special and inclusive education and their motivation for professional development in China. A mixed-method approach was used to investigate teachers' perspectives on their professional life in this respect. A sample of teachers at seven mainstream schools (N=326), two special schools (N=37) and student teachers from one university (N=565) in a city in China was identified. Triangulation of data collected from questionnaire surveys, interviews and observations facilitated the identification of cases for narrative enquiry. Self-Determination Theory (SDT) was applied in data analysis and discussion. The key findings are as follows: First, teachers researched were mostly extrinsically motivated. Some were amotivated (unwilling) and were regretful of their career choice. The majority of them would have chosen other professions if possible. Second, special school teachers' extrinsic motivation for working in special schools became less controlled and more autonomous with the accumulation of knowledge and skills in teaching practice. Similarly, their initial unwillingness had altered to controlled extrinsic motivation or even autonomous motivation. Third, initial teacher education had prepared teachers with limited knowledge and understanding about special and inclusive education. This contributed to the less positive attitudes towards inclusive education. Despite a high awareness of, and motivation for professional development, most teachers were not taking an active initiative in engaging themselves in professional development. The thesis highlights the impact of teacher recruitment policies on career motivation, models of initial and continuing teacher training on teacher attitudes values and incentives for professional development. This study implies a correlation between the key themes and extends the discussion of the SDT model in terms of the continuum of extrinsic motivation.
    Date of Award2009
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Northampton
    SupervisorPhilip Garner (Supervisor) & Richard Rose (Supervisor)

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