This paper examines motivational practices and engagements of schools – through strategies developed by principals with the members of the school management team – to improve academic performance.
The research used an interpretive approach within a qualitative design in which schools were purposefully selected. In each of the sampled schools, individual interviews were conducted with the principal as well as a focus group with the school management team and another focus group was identified teachers.
The main findings reveal that school labelling (where schools are labelled as underperforming schools) as a public notice was identified as the main push towards intrinsic motivation, especially when positive results in learner performance are eventually achieved. Extra classes, teaching collaboration, monitoring and team building were some of the main strategies used. Efforts appear to focus on performance in Grade 12 examinations. Therefore, the study recommends that attention be spread across all grades as a long-term improvement plan for the education system. Furthermore, since these strategies have worked successfully, the national and the provincial education departments should consider developing plans for academic improvement based on these strategies.
This research contributed to the understanding of school improvement in a specific context of low socio economic and societal context and schools are able to improve in spite of the challenging context. This is specifically in a developing country's context. More research can be conducted about the specific influence of intrinsic motivation and how extrinsic factors can become internalised as intrinsic motivation factors.
The findings from this project can provide leadership at schools with the necessary information and examples of what can be done to get teachers to improve the performance in a challenging context. The use of extrinsic as well as intrinsic motivational actions can provide the leadership with the necessary guidelines to implement in their schools. The appointment of principals with specific characteristics needed attention in policy as well as the practice of the appointment process.
The research is contributed to the knowledge of school improvement from a perspective of a developing country and is using motivational theories within this context. The limited literature which links motivation to the process of school improvement is advanced from ice perspective of low socio economic context in a developing country.
Competitive programme for rated researchers: This work is based on research supported wholly or in part by the National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF) (grant number 98926). Any opinion, finding, conclusion, or recommendation expressed in this material is that of the authors, and the NRF does not accept any liability in this regard.
Heystek, J. and Emekako, R. (2020), "Leadership and motivation for improved academic performance in schools in low socio-economic contexts", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEM-10-2019-0378Download as .RIS
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