Finding value in appraisal? Case studies of teachers’ perspectives in two private schools
van Groenewoud, Monique
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Citation:van Groenewoud, M. (2008). Finding value in appraisal? Case studies of teachers’ perspectives in two private schools. Unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of Educational Leadership and Management, Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/1302
The potential benefits of appraisal as a mechanism for improving performance are more likely to come to fruition if there is commitment from teachers’ that goes beyond mere compliance. This thesis set out to explore teachers’ attitudes to understand how factors within appraisal affected their level of commitment to the process. The literature review focused on the impact of appraisal on teachers and their learning within the New Zealand context. The concepts of trust and motivation were explored because of their importance to adult learning. The discussion included a review of current tensions within appraisal, such as teacher professionalism and the multiple purposes of appraisal. The research adopted a qualitative methodology involving the case studies of two private schools, to gain an in depth understanding of the contextual influences on teachers’ attitudes. Information was gathered over three stages and involved multiple methods of data collection and analysis with a predominantly qualitative weighting. Stage one involved searching policy and procedural documents to gain an understanding of the intent of appraisal, and expected procedures. Stage two used a questionnaire to gather attitudes of the whole staff. Stage three involved focus group discussions to explore the reasons behind attitudes. Tensions that evolved from the findings were related to assessment, ownership, qualities of the appraisal relationship, time, and trust. The research found that attitudes associated with the effectiveness of appraisal were closely aligned to the tensions between the multiple purposes of appraisal on the one hand, and ownership on the other. Existing workloads did have a significant impact on teachers’ level of commitment to the process. There was overwhelming evidence that teachers found little value in appraisal as it was currently practised. The recommendations that come from this research are that school leaders should consider how the identified tensions in purpose might be alleviated, and how teachers’ workload issues could be addressed. For appraisal to be effective, it needs to be positioned to capture a teacher’s inherent desire to improve their practice and do their best for the students they teach. Further research could increase understanding of the most significant factors that give ownership, and features of the appraisal relationship, that will contribute to the effectiveness of appraisal.