Understanding teacher motivation may possibly have some benefit to improving student performance. A survey undertaken in Buffalo Public schools is determining what motivates teachers, measuring their working climate, and the effect on students.
The survey is the fist of its kind, gauging teacher perceptions of city schools work environment and how that environment affects their motivation to excel. The survey is designed by an education expert and the man who designed health care quality measurements.
The 25 question survey by Peter Loehr and Bruce Boissonnault is designed to apply to “complex environments” like classrooms and measure intrinsic motivation. Educators are often concerned that reducing aspects of teaching to easy to quantify measurements is not applicable to their field.
1,763 teachers in 47 city schools responded to questions on how well principals help faculty collaborate, how frequently the principal visits the classroom, in the attempt to determine how much school climate helps or hinders teachers. The survey has found that there is much room for improvement, as only four schools scored above the halfway mark. Loehr and Boissonault call these results “opportunity scores” because principals and teachers have the opportunity to work together to improve things.
How would a higher survey score translate into better results for students? According to Loehr, “It should translate into higher student achievement … higher test scores, higher morale, higher engagement. They should see improvement in all of those areas.”
Loehr is a SUNY Buffalo State associate professor of elementary education and reading. He continued, “The survey reflects that there are significant differences in intrinsic motivation in the schools in Buffalo.”
The first survey did not publicly identify the schools, however they will be identified in subsequent surveys once they have time to improve, according to Boissonnault, head of the Niagara Health Quality Coalition, the developer of the hospital rating system that empowers consumers.