This post is the fifth in a series of outcomes from my MA in Education work. In the first post, I looked at why might schools use research? In the second post, I looked at what makes up a teaching and learning culture, and in Part 3, I looked at how people generally view education research in comparison to other factors that shape it. In my fourth post, I looked at how that attitude changes depending on the extrinsic situation you’re in!
In the final analysis blog post, I want to look at how this varies depending on your school’s culture, and explore how intrinsic motivators change the attitudes people have.
By comparison to the extrinsic motivators of Ofsted and exams results, the “culture” of the school was described as the key intrinsic motivator for why research was adopted and used in different settings. It is therefore the key proxy to be used in this section as part of the “intrinsic” motivations analysis; however, it is also inextricably linked to the external drivers as we have just shown in the previous discussion.
In this post, I will outline the relationships that we find, and explore some of internally driven reasons that might help to explain why schools use educational research to build their cultures.
First, it’s important to demonstrate the relationship between participation and the school’s teaching & learning culture. This is shown here: with 84% of respondents in a ‘positive culture’ having majority (i.e. greater than 50%) participation from their staff team.
By contrast, negative school cultures only had 23% participation by the majority: and 72% of those schools had less than a quarter of staff involved. Clearly, setting an appropriate culture of professional learning in a school – which was identified as a relatively low factor in the original analysis – has fairly substantial effects within the school itself, endorsing Kraft & Papay (2014)’s analysis of teacher professional development.
In terms of the research question focus on education research, this shows some sharp differences in the extent to which people use educational research in their context.
For the ‘negative’ cultures, it’s only 9% of responses in the two positive categories; with 39% disagreeing, and 42% strongly disagreeing. The ratios are not quite reversed in the ‘positive’ culture, but 17% of this category strongly agree, with a further 41% agreeing. Only 21% had a low use of educational research with strong/disagreement.
A similar trend can be observed in the confidence rating by staff here. 48% of staff in positive school cultures have confidence in their school’s use of educational research, where only 6% of negative school cultures feel the same. 81% of staff in negative school cultures are not confident in their school’s use of research; this figure is only 22% in the positive cultures.
Investigating what drives that confidence, particularly in light of the previously discussed training and experience analysis, and understanding how to derive that dynamic would be a fascinating area for further investigation, and a deeply interesting case study to explore.
The wider intrinsic-motivation trend of change is shown again here. One of the potential drivers of the culture ‘fit’ is the extent to which staff feel their personal values and aspirations are aligned with the schools.
Here, we see that there is some evidence that ‘positive’ cultures are more aligned with their staff: 68% of staff think that it’s important to be aligned and cohered between staff interest in research and utility; while that’s only 34% in the negative schools. The mixed cultures sit approximately in between these two extremes, echoing the interesting potential trend that has started to emerge from the other cultural analysis.
By contrast, the ‘mixed’ culture is dominated by the feeling that Senior Leaders’ interests are the driving force behind the use of educational research: perhaps reflecting why the culture is described in mixed terms! This shows that in ‘positive’ cultures, this is still fairly high, at 73%, and lowest in the ‘negative’ cultures at 67%. The importance of leadership, both in terms of setting a research agenda, and in terms of building the culture, is echoed in these responses.
Figure 36: Chart to show the relationship between education research and workload, sorted by school culture
The use of educational research to generate better workload for staff (Figure 36) appears to be an important motivator: the positive responses are significantly higher (68%) in the ‘positive cultures’, compared to 45% in the mixed and 42% in the negative culture. Nearly 45% of staff in a ‘negative’ culture feel that this is unimportant; and it seems likely that staff being asked to do more, may well begin to describe their culture in negative terms.
Figure 37: Chart to show the relationship between educational research and teacher development, sorted by school culture
However, perhaps surprisingly, the link connecting education research to other intrinsic factor of “teacher development” is less decisively connected to culture (Figure 37).
Here, for example, we can see that there isn’t much variance between the extent to which people believe in the use of research for personal development; and in fact it’s the ‘negative’ cultures which have the highest proportion of positive responses to this prompt (90%), rather than the 83% of the ‘positive’ cultures. It may well be, as described earlier, that these schools are directing their access to research more significantly, and teachers feel confident in this cultural steer.
Figure 38: Chart to show the relationship between educational research and the intent to improve results for students, sorted by school culture
The relatively tangled motivations and attitudes are demonstrated again by the link between intrinsic and extrinsic factors in Figure 38.
95% of ‘positive’ cultures describe student outcomes as fairly or very important reasons to use education research, a figure that is closely matched by the mixed (79%) and negative cultures (80%). The lack of any negative responses in the mixed culture is suggestive of external pressures as the key driver, but this is only speculative. Similarly, the mixed culture (figure not shown) shows most importance given to external inspectors (64%), closely followed by the negative cultures (62%). While there is slightly less importance given to the inspectorate (56%) by the positive cultures, its’ influence is undeniable even here.