Images of the teacher self in an era of teacher quality and standardisation

PhD Thesis


Salton, Yvonne Anne. 2019. Images of the teacher self in an era of teacher quality and standardisation. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/ymah-dp76
Title

Images of the teacher self in an era of teacher quality and standardisation

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorSalton, Yvonne Anne
SupervisorBaguley, Margaret
Riddle, Stewart
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages222
Year2019
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/ymah-dp76
Abstract

Evolving government agendas and the focus on education for economic growth have led to an era of quality and standardisation in Australia. This era centres on managerial accountability measures and has shifted the focus from the quality of education to the quality of teachers in relation to students’ outcomes based on standardised testing. The connection made in government policy of improving the quality of education with the quality of teachers has led to the introduction of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APSTs) and increased scrutiny of teachers and teaching.

The purpose of this study is to consider how teachers navigate this era of quality and standardisation and the effects of the APSTs’ singular image of quality on teachers’ images of their teacher self and their teaching. The increased focus on the technical elements of teaching as a measure of accountability has led to questions around teacher autonomy and agency. Therefore, this study also considers the implications of managerial accountability measures for the images that teachers hold of their teacher self and practice.

An interpretative case study was used to investigate how teachers view themselves and their practice in this era of quality and standardisation. This provided a framework for considering the interviews with the teacher participants, the artefacts of their teaching and their evaluations against the APSTs, to understand how they navigate the current era of quality and standardisation.

This study found that just as the teacher participants’ experiences and lengths of time in teaching differed, so too did their images of their teacher selves. In some instances, the current era of quality and standardisation has led to feelings of powerlessness and redundancy. This study identified uneasy tensions for the teacher participants that were affecting their wellbeing, resilience, self-efficacy and capacity to remain in teaching. The shifting priorities in the era of quality and standardisation led to resistance by the majority of the teachers to the external measures of quality.

The teachers in this study demonstrated that the APSTs have not had the effect of standardising teachers’ work nor the images of quality that they hold. Instead, the APSTs served to confirm or challenge teachers’ images of self, highlighting the complexities of teaching and the need for teachers to articulate who they are in teaching. Those teachers who had a strong image of teacher self were more resilient. However, the push for quality measures for teachers and increased managerial accountability has led to a lack of trust in teachers and increased scrutiny of them, which in turn has reduced teacher autonomy and agency.

This study advocates for changes in government policy and a review of the underlying political agenda. Teachers need to be able to focus on students’ learning rather than the systemic expectations brought about by the neoliberal agenda, which measures outcomes according to economic requirements. While teachers can make a difference, this can only happen if the focus is on the learner and learning.

Keywordsteacher self, teaching, quality, standardisation, images of self
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390402. Education assessment and evaluation
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Education
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