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Motivation and Teacher Professional Development

Laura Smith
Oklahoma State University


When teachers leave the safety of college courses and enter the classroom, they
are faced with many challenges. Teachers must continue to learn as new research
surfaces, new learning techniques are found, and learners change. Professional
development is the typical approach to continuing education for teachers. Most schools
offer professional development on campus (Benson, 2010). These opportunities to learn
usually occur in formal in-service training or during every day school activities (Clement,
2000). As teachers gain more experience and move further in their career, their needs for
professional development change (Eros, 2011).

Background of Problem
Lack of sufficiently appropriate professional development for teachers is one of
the reasons more experienced teachers are leaving the field of education (Eros, 2011). In
order to keep quality teacher in the classroom, schools need to find alternative teacher
training programs that meet the needs to students while also satisfying the teachers.

Statement of Problem
As teachers progress through their careers, a need for autonomy develops (Cryps,
1993). Typical professional development sessions generally focus on topics that are
valuable for new teachers to learn basic classroom management and instruction skills
(Eros, 2011). These skills are not necessarily needed for experienced teachers. Mandated
professional development sessions can decrease job satisfaction and negatively impact
teacher retention (Pearson, 2005). As a alternative to professional development sessions,


Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) allow teachers to choose a topic of interest and
utilize social networks to learn more about the topic (Trust, 2012).

Purpose of Study
The purpose of this study is to determine if motivation to participate in a
professional learning scenario is greater when teachers participate in Professional
Learning Networks rather than in lecture-format professional developments. This study
will also attempt to determine if that motivation is greater among secondary than primary

Definition of Terms

Learning Scenario is meant to refer to either a Professional Learning

Network or Professional Development.

Professional Learning Networks are sharing work-related ideas with a

network of colleagues via various digital communications (and even face-toface) for the betterment of one's professional practice. (Perez, 2012, p. 20)

Professional Development is described as activities that promote a change in

a teachers knowledge base (Eros, 2011). For this study, traditional
professional development is meant to describe lecture-based activities in
which multiple (20-50) teachers participate, sometimes referred to as inservice training.


Instructional Level refers to the grade level at which the teacher instructs.
Primary is understood to mean Pre-K through 5th grade, while Secondary is
considered grades 6-12.

Online Learning refers to using internet tools such as blogs, RSS feeds,
Twitter, and Facebook to learn new material. Online learning also includes a
social interaction aspect that requires the learner to interact with others
(Yang, 2006).

Autonomy refers to the learner having some control over the method in
which they learn.

Motivation refers to the reason for completing a task, the effort a person is
willing to put forward to complete the task and the duration a person is
willing to work on a task (Dornyei, 2000).

Significance of Study
The theories of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is often applied to students, but
by looking at how motivation changes teacher education, teachers could potentially save
valuable time by creating their own PLNs and not attending professional developments
that are not applicable to their teaching assignment.
Teachers and administrators will benefit greatly from this study. Administrators can
can better understand how to serve their staff and teachers can better understand how to
gain the most practical knowledge through either professional development or PLNs. By
better preparing teachers with relevant education, students will also benefit through
receiving an education that incorporates up-to-date teaching techniques.


It is assumed that participants in the study will be truthful in their responses on
the questionnaire. It is also assumed that participants will understand their privacy rights
and that all data will be confidential.

There is a possibility of bias on the part of the teachers participating in the study.
Teachers may have previous opinions on professional development that may skew their
responses. There is also the possibility of teachers having negative attitudes towards
technology that may cause some negative responses in the data.

Organization of Study
The remainder of this paper will cover a brief literature review that provides
background information on professional development, PLNs and teacher autonomy. In
addition to the literature review, the research question and hypotheses will be defined as
well as an explanation of Self-Determination Theory, the theoretical basis for this study.
Lastly, the methods for collecting and analyzing data will be discussed along with a
thorough explanation of the Motivation for Learning Strategies Questionnaire, which will
be used as the measurement instrument for this study.


Literature Review

This study seeks to understand professional development alternatives and the
varying influence different kinds of professional development have on teacher
motivation. In order to better understand this study, this literature review summarizes
findings surrounding the topics of professional development, PLNs and teacher

Professional Development for Teachers

Teachers must continue to learn as new research surfaces, new learning
techniques are found, and learners change. Professional development is the typical
approach to continuing education for teachers citation. Most schools offer professional
development on campus (Benson, 2010). These opportunities to learn usually occur in
formal in-service training or during every day school activities (Clement, 2000). As
teachers gain more experience and move further in their career, their needs for
professional development change (Eros, 2011).
Most professional development assumes that all teachers receiving the training are
at the same level and have the same needs (Eros, 2011). This assumption can lead to job
dissatisfaction among more experienced teachers (Eros, 2011). There is a need for
professional development that is not only relevant but also personally meaningful so that
teachers may gain knowledge from the training (Kao, 2011).


Professional Learning Networks

Differentiating instruction in the classroom is difficult with only one teacher, but
is a necessary practice in order to meet students needs. However, professional
development for teachers is typically given in a one-size fits all manner that just isnt
appropriate for the range of teachers in a district or building (Eros, 2011). Professional
Learning Networks (PLNs) offer an alternative to traditional professional development
with many of the same benefits.
PLNs are made up of professionals in a related field of study that share resources
through different means of digital communication in order to learn more and develop in
their profession (Perez, 2012). For a teacher, this may mean setting up a Twitter account
and following other teachers, innovators, companies, public speakers, and government
officials in order to learn new techniques and stay updated on the growth in the field of
PLNs offer the benefits of individualized learning as well as learning in an online
setting which offers more time flexibility without the drawbacks of traditional
professional development. PLNs require a smaller time commitment for teachers because
they can post to online forums at their convenience (Trust, 2012). Teachers with
previously positive outlooks towards online learning report greater learning online (Kao,
2011). PLNs offer the opportunity for teachers to search for their own interests and learn
about subject areas that are important to them.


Teacher Autonomy as related to Professional Development

Autonomy has been noted to be a contributing factor to teacher job satisfaction and
retention (Eros, 2011). It is essential that teachers are able to gain some sort of autonomy
in the workplace in order to collaborate with other and work better (Clement, 2000).
Learners that have autonomy in their environment and take responsibility for their
own learning are more likely to reach their learning goals (Little, 1995). By offering
PLNs as a way of choosing a professional development topic that is relevant to the
teacher, some autonomy is gained.

Hypotheses / Research Questions

This study will be answering the research question: How will motivation influence an
educators experience in a professional learning scenario? The first hypothesis is that
teachers who participate in a PLN will report greater motivation to participate in further
learning opportunities than those who participate in a lecture-format professional
development. The second hypothesis is that secondary teachers will report greater
motivation to participate in further learning opportunities than primary teacher when
participating in a PLN.

Theoretical Perspective
Self-Determination Theory (SDT) is a theory that states that motivation is linked
to the basic needs of competence, autonomy and relatedness being met (Deci & Ryan,
2000). Other factors such as goal attainment, social interactions and environment can also
influence motivation (Deci & Ryan, 2000). In comparison to most behavior theories that


postulate that behavior is a reaction to disequilibrium, SDT is more proactive in that it

asserts the organism wants to meet the aforementioned needs (Deci & Ryan, 2000).
A key component of SDT is that by nature humans are motivated either
intrinsically or extrinsically (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Intrinsically, a person may pursue a
goal based on the merits of the goal and the need to improve oneself cognitively (Deci &
Ryan, 2000). Extrinsically, a person will pursue a goal due to external forces such as
deadlines or rewards (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Deci and Ryan (2000) observed that
motivation is also affected by social constructs such as praise or reprimands. Positive
feedback was seen to improve intrinsic motivation whereas negative feedback had the
opposite effect (Deci & Ryan, 2000).
Goals are also an important component of SDT (Deci & Ryan, 2000). These can
be either intrinsic or extrinsic goals (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Ambitions such as wealth or
fame are extrinsic goals because there is a reward for completing activities related to this
goal (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Aspirations such as personal development are intrinsic
because the person is wanting to progress without the receipt of a reward (Deci & Ryan,
SDT fits well into this study because it is looking at how motivation can influence
an educator in a professional learning scenario. The typical learning scenario for
educators is to attend an administration mandated professional development session
selected by someone other than the educator. The motivation for the educator to attend
and learn is extrinsic in that the educator is required to attend as part of a contractual
obligation. The learner no longer has autonomy so intrinsic motivation is decreased (Deci
& Ryan, 2000). This study looks at an alternative. While educators are still required to



attend professional development, by offering opportunities for educators to learn through

the use of PLNs, the learner is offered some autonomy and choice, which should increase
intrinsic motivation and increase the quality of learning overall.

Teacher autonomy is essential for teacher retention (Eros, 2011). However, lack
of depth in professional development is a key issue in fostering autonomy and job
satisfaction (Eros, 2011). PLNs have the potential to offer a differentiated learning
structure for teachers (Trust, 2012). This study seeks to determine if motivation is
increased through the use of PLNs in comparison to traditional professional development
For this study, Oklahoma educators will be given a questionnaire about
motivation and then either participates in a PLN or in a traditional professional
development session. After the professional development, the participants will then take
the same questionnaire and the results will be compared to note any changes in

Research Design
This sample is representative of the study population because it includes teachers
who are in a typical classroom and who have also been teaching long enough to establish
a career in the field of education.



Population. The study population consists of K-12 public educators in the state of
Sample. The sample for this study will consist of teachers within Oklahoma City
Public Schools. The teachers included in the sample will need to have at least three years
of teaching experience, and must teach in a self-contained classroom. This study will not
include teachers who do not teach core subjects (English, Math, Social Studies, Science)
or who teach in a Special Education classroom.
200 teachers will be used in this study: 100 from K-5 grades, and 100 from 6-12
grades. This sample size was chosen to not only be representative of Oklahoma teachers,
but to also have a large enough sample to gather data from primary and secondary
Sampling method. Simple random sampling will be used to collect the sample
population. The parameters of the sample will be given to the Human Resource
Department of Oklahoma City Public Schools. From there, a list will be generated of
possible candidates for the study. The list will be divided into secondary and primary
teachers. Each teacher will receive a randomly assigned number and 100 teachers will be
selected from each list. An email will then be sent to those candidates to inform them of
their participation in the study.



Data Collection
This study will utilize pre and post test data measuring motivation. Two weeks
before any participation in PLN or professional development, the sample will receive a
pretest to measure motivation. Half of the sample will receive traditional professional
development while the other half will participate in a PLN. After the completion of the
treatment, the sample will then take a post-test measuring any change in motivation.

The Motivation and Learning Strategies Questions (MLSQ) (see Appendix) will
be administered to each participant before the introduction of the independent variable,
learning scenario. After being exposed to the independent variable, the MSLQ will be
given again to determine if a change in motivation has occurred.
The MSLQ will be administered via email for the pre-test two weeks before the sample
will participate in the learning scenario. The post-test MSLQ will be administered as a
paper and pencil questionnaire at the conclusion of the learning scenario session. It is the
hope that the time difference between the pre-test and the post-test will eliminate any bias
by the sample subjects in altering their answers intentionally or otherwise.
Validity. The MLSQ has consistent predictive validity showing a direct positive
correlation between learner motivation and learner achievement (Pintrich, 1993). This
was true for all motivational and cognitive subscales with the exception of extrinsic
motivation (Pintrich, 1993).
Reliability. The MLSQ has internal consistency with a reliability coefficient
above .60 for most subscales (See: Table 1) (Printrich, 1993). This level is acceptable



since motivation is similar to a personality measure and those measures coefficients are
acceptable if approximately equal to .70 (Gay, 2011).

Data Analysis
For this study, the data will be analyzed using a difference of means t-test.
Specifically, the intrinsic motivation subscales will be compared between the pre and
post-test data. Pre-test and post-test data will be compared for both learning scenario and
instructional level.
The sample for this study will be selected randomly from Oklahoma City Public
School teachers who meet the criteria of the sample. Participants will take the MSLQ
once before participating in a professional development learning scenario and then once



again after completing the learning scenario. The motivation scales utilized in the MLSQ
will aid in determining a change in motivation after either participating in the PLN or the
professional development session.



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Motivated Strategies or Learning Questionnaire

A. Self-Efficacy
2. Compared with other students in this class I expect to do well.
7. Im certain I can understand the ideas taught in this course.
10. I expect to do very well in this class.
11. Compared with others in this class, I think Im a good student.
13. I am sure I can do an excellent job on the problems and tasks assigned for
this class.
15. I think I will receive a good grade in this class.
20. My study skills are excellent compared with others in this class.
22. Compared with other students in this class I think I know a great deal about
the subject.
23. I know that I will be able to learn the material for this class.
B. Intrinsic Value
1. I prefer class work that is challenging so I can learn new things.
5. It is important for me to learn what is being taught in this class.
6. I like what I am learning in this class.
9. I think I will be able to use what I learn in this class in other classes.
12. I often choose paper topics I will learn something from even if they require
more work.
17. Even when I do poorly on a test I try to learn from my mistakes.
18. I think that what I am learning in this class is useful for me to know.
21. I think that what we are learning in this class is interesting.
25. Understanding this subject is important to me.
C. Test Anxiety
3. I am so nervous during a test that I cannot remember facts I have learned.
14. I have an uneasy, upset feeling when I take a test.
24. I worry a great deal about tests.
27. When I take a test I think about how poorly I am doing.
D. Cognitive Strategy Use
30. When I study for a test, I try to put together the information from class and
from the book.
31. When I do homework, I try to remember what the teacher said in class so I
can answer the questions correctly.
33. It is hard for me to decide what the main ideas are in what I read. (*R)
35. When I study I put important ideas into my own words.
36. I always try to understand what the teacher is saying even if it doesnt make
38. When I study for a test I try to remember as many facts as I can.
39. When studying, I copy my notes over to help me remember material.



42. When I study for a test I practice saying the important facts over and over to
44. I use what I have learned from old homework assignments and the textbook
to do new assignments.
47. When I am studying a topic, I try to make everything fit together.
53. When I read material for this class, I say the words over and over to myself to
help me remember.
54. I outline the chapters in my book to help me study.
56. When reading I try to connect the things I am reading about with what I
already know.
E. Self-Regulation
32. I ask myself questions to make sure I know the material I have been studying.
34. When work is hard I either give up or study only the easy parts. (*R)
40. I work on practice exercises and answer end of chapter questions even when
I dont have to.
41. Even when study materials are dull and uninteresting, I keep working until I
43. Before I begin studying I think about the things I will need to do to learn.
45. I often find that I have been reading for class but dont know what it is all
about. (*R)
46. I find that when the teacher is talking I think of other things and dont really
listen to what is being said. (*R)
52. When Im reading I stop once in a while and go over what I have read.
55. I work hard to get a good grade even when I dont like a class.

(Pintrich, 1990)