Teachers’ Perspectives on Motivational Practices in Classrooms: An Exploratory Sequential Mixed Methods Design

  • Author / Creator
    Radil, Amanda I.
  • Motivation theory suggests several different approaches to best motivating students, established through rigorous empirical research. However, a theory-practice divide persists: teachers report feeling underprepared to motivate their students and researchers fail to make their recommendations readily accessible to teachers. In trying to close this divide most motivation researchers strive to move their theoretical and empirical work into classrooms. Another option to close the divide, however, is to focus on teachers’ organic motivational practices. The purpose of the current study was to prioritize teachers’ voices in order to understand their classroom motivational practices by asking them what they do in their classrooms to motivate their students and then examining whether the thematic analysis of their practices was preserved in a developed quantitative questionnaire. Current Study: I employed an exploratory sequential mixed methods design, emphasizing the quantitative strand during the integration process, to answer the following mixed methods research question: Are the categories of teachers’ organic motivational practices preserved when transformed into a self-report questionnaire? Method: In the qualitative strand, 46 anonymous, snowball sampled teachers responded to a written prompt about their classroom motivational practices. Member checks with representative teachers were completed following thematic analysis. The first integration point was when the qualitative results were transformed into the items and structure of the Transformed Qualitative Practices Questionnaire (TQPQ). All thematic categories were included in the TQPQ and whenever possible items were based on teachers’ verbatim responses to the initial written prompt. In the quantitative strand, I recruited 321 teachers as a convenience sample from two teacher conventions in large Canadian cities and through social media to complete the TQPQ. Qualitative and quantitative data were analyzed separately, and a final integration process was undertaken to identify mixed insights. Findings: Nine themes emerged from the thematic analysis of the qualitative responses, each representing a distinct category of practices organically endorsed by teachers. In the first integration, the codes and themes from the thematic analysis were transformed into the items and structure of the TQPQ. Four possible structures were arrived at through this integration process. In the quantitative analyses, the reliability of the separate scales of the TQPQ proved to be adequate according to coefficient alpha. However, the hypothesized original structure did not fit the data according to confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Thus, the competing structures were tested and revealed that a two-model solution had the most acceptable CFA fit indices. One model represented social and emotional support and the other represented a toolbox of teaching strategies. In response to the mixed method research question, the primary integrated learning was that organic categories of practices were not preserved in the structure of the self-report questionnaire, suggesting that there is a difference between teachers’ qualitative reports of motivating students and the way they respond to quantitative items that measure the same concepts. Implications: Findings are discussed in light of the importance of giving priority to teachers’ perspectives in research about their motivational practices because it appears that their organic practices are both similar to and different from those recommended by researchers. Measurement challenges in motivation in education are discussed, as well as the value of using an MMR approach to further understand this topic. Finally, the MMR inferences are evaluated according to Tashakkori & Teddlie’s (2009) Integrative Framework for Assessing Inference Quality, identifying limitations. Suggestions for future research are also explored.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • School and Clinical Child Psychology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Poth, Cheryl (Educational Psychology)
    • Cormier, Damien (Educational Psychology)
    • Cui, Ying (Educational Psychology)
    • Ratelle, Catherine (Département des fondements et pratiques en éducation, Université Laval)
    • Inness, Michelle (Business)