Exploring commitment of secondary teachers in Seychelles
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis reports on an investigation into teacher commitment in secondary schools in Seychelles. The overarching aim was to gain an insight into the experiences and perceptions of teacher commitment in order to get a better understanding of teachers’ career trajectories and issues relating to teacher retention. Another aim was to explore the experiences and perceptions of the participating teachers, headteachers and policymakers on the factors that influence commitment and trajectories of secondary teachers at the different stages of their teaching careers.
In order to achieve these aims a qualitative methodology was chosen with a combination of three different approaches: phenomenography, phenomenology and multiple case studies. The use of multiple-approaches was considered appropriate in order to enhance the results of the investigation of such a complex phenomenon like teacher commitment. The case studies focused on four teacher groups representing newly qualified teachers, mid-career teachers, experienced teachers and teachers who had left the profession. Data were sought from different participant groups in relation to teacher commitment, experiences and career trajectories. The exploration involved semi-structured interviews with secondary teachers, headteachers and policymakers.
The findings show that participants describe teacher commitment in relation to altruism, personal qualities, pedagogical content knowledge and connectedness. The ideas of what constitutes a committed teacher for these participants reveal complexity in the phenomenon of teacher commitment. Personal, organisational and contextual factors are found to influence these participants’ understandings. The findings identify a complex interplay of personal and contextual spheres of influence on teacher commitment.
Another level of complexity that the findings revealed relate to the interconnection between teacher commitment, teachers’ career stages and retention. The commitment of beginning teachers is found to be more at risk than that of mid-career and experienced teachers. Education stakeholders hold different views to those of teachers on the factors that impact on teacher commitment and retention.
The study concludes by proposing a conceptual model for teacher commitment that illustrates its complex nature. Teacher commitment is multifaceted and the nature and level of commitment held by teachers involves the constant negotiation between these different factors.
The findings of the study contribute to a nuanced understanding of teacher commitment and have the potential to generate more in-depth and extensive studies of this phenomenon. These findings may inform policymakers both in Seychelles and in other national and international contexts about issues relating to teacher recruitment, development and retention, which are worldwide concerns.