Only 46 percent of teachers in secondary education feel satisfied, involved and competent when teaching. Nearly 20 percent of teachers are only somewhat satisfied and do not feel very involved with their profession. This has been revealed by research conducted by Esther Canrinus, for which she will be awarded a PhD by the University of Groningen on 27 October 2011.
‘The professional identity of teachers is a subject that is often spoken about but what this means in practice is hardly ever discussed’, says Canrinus. This led her to investigate how secondary school teachers feel about their profession. Important indicators are motivation, involvement, belief in personal capabilities and job satisfaction. Some 46 percent of teachers have relatively high scores for these indicators. They are the motivated and more involved teachers who feel competent. A smaller group of 34 percent feels less competent but is satisfied with their salary. Canrinus: ‘They are satisfied with their salary much more often than those in the first group. This could very well be due to the fact that they don’t feel as competent.’
A good 20 percent of teachers has low scores for all indicators. These teachers do not feel very involved or motivated, have little belief in their personal capabilities and are generally dissatisfied with their profession. Canrinus: ‘These are all aspects that have been linked to teachers dropping out due to causes such as burnout. This means that it’s very important that they receive attention from whoever is dealing with personnel policy.’Canrinus used a questionnaire to investigate the indicators which 1214 teachers completed. Many of the indicators are closely related. Canrinus: ‘Teachers who are satisfied with the support they receive in the workplace also feel more emotionally involved. This emotional involvement is in turn influenced by how competent teachers feel. The more competent they feel, the greater their emotional involvement.’
The degree to which teachers are satisfied with the relationship with colleagues and managers also turns out to be very important for teacher wellbeing. The less motivated teachers are the ones who indicate that they are dissatisfied in this regard. Canrinus: ‘My first recommendation would be to focus on these relationships. This could be done by creating close-knit teams, where managers and teachers feel committed to one another. Also be certain to select managers with clear vision who give positive guidance. This increases the satisfaction and emotional involvement of many teachers and helps to keep them in the profession.’
Canrinus also looked at the relationship between how teachers view themselves and their behaviour in class. A number of teachers were observed while teaching, by two external observers and by their pupils. This revealed that the 20 percent of teachers who were somewhat satisfied were the ones with high scores for effective class management and the degree to which they gave pupils clear instructions. Canrinus: ‘It’s these teachers in particular who have orderly lessons, where the subject matter is clear in advance and the teaching is well structured. This all sounds positive but the question is what kind of teacher you really have if he or she is dissatisfied and in some cases even feels plain out of sorts. I can see that they would prefer to just teach, without going to any great lengths. Pupils indicate that these teachers explain things clearly, which is positive. But there is such a thing as enthusiasm too….’
Esther Canrinus (Groningen, 1981) studied psychology at the University of Groningen and conducted her research at the University Centre for Learning and Teaching (UOCG), the University's teacher-training institute. For her degree in Behavioural and Social Sciences she was supervised by Prof. W.H.A. Hofman and Prof. D. Beijaard, while her co-supervisors were Dr M. Helms-Lorenz and Dr J. Buitink. Her thesis is entitled ‘Teachers' sense of their professional identity’. Canrinus now works as a postdoc with the teacher-training programme of the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences.
For further information, please contact Esther Canrinus: tel. 050-363 8711, e-mail: e.t.canrinus rug.nl
The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has awarded 32 experienced researchers a Vici grant worth € 1.5 million each. Three of the awardees are conducting research at the University of Groningen (UG), and two at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)...
Identifying individual animals is an important part of biological field research. But how do you distinguish between individual animals when you do not want to capture or mark them, or when they do not have clear markings in their fur and are so dangerous...