Exploring the impact of teacher motivation and classroom practices on student learning in India

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Geographical Sciences


There is substantial evidence that the motivation of learners has a considerable impact on their learning (Lamb, forthcoming) but what is less clearly documented is the role which the motivation of teachers has to play. Existing research suggests that motivated teachers are more likely to make use of teaching practices which inspire and motivate students (ibid), yet there have been limited studies to date which have shed light upon the mechanisms of the relationship between teacher motivation and student learning. This is particularly true in developing countries, in part due to a lack of available data linking teacher and student characteristics to student learning in many contexts.

This study will contribute to this field by investigating how the motivation and efficacy levels of secondary school teachers in India can explain variation in student learning progress. This is an area of considerable policy interest in India and other developing countries, where research suggests that levels of teacher motivation are worryingly low (Bennell & Akyeampong, 2007).

Since the majority of children around the world now access some kind of basic education, research and policy on education in developing countries has moved from a focus on access alone towards one on quality. Yet in some countries, including India, there is evidence for declining learning levels over recent years, despite increased enrolment, declining class size and greater teacher availability (Rolleston & James, 2015). Understanding the influence of teachers is of central importance in addressing this 'learning crisis' (UNESCO 2013; Anderson 2004). School effectiveness research suggests that "teacher effects greatly exceed school effects when progress over time is studied" (Reynolds et al, 2011:6), with multiple studies providing evidence that variation in teacher effectiveness is the single biggest factor contributing to differences in student learning (Muijis & Reynolds, 2000; Goe et al, 2008).

This research will contribute to and extend this existing body of work by exploring the mechanisms through which teacher motivation influences how teachers teach, and, in turn, how this affects student learning progress. It will do this through the following three questions:

i. How can the latent traits of teacher motivation, efficacy and classroom practice be appropriately and accurately measured?
ii. How do levels of teacher motivation and efficacy impact on student learning outcomes in Indian secondary schools?
iii. To what extent do teachers' classroom practices mediate the relationship between teacher motivation and student learning?

This study will be undertaken through quantitative analysis of secondary data from Young Lives' school effectiveness dataset, which includes hierarchically structured attainment and background data on 10,000 students, 550 teachers and 205 schools.

Methods to address the RQs include:
i: Creation of a motivation index to be used in subsequent analyses, using factor analysis and/or Item Response Theory (IRT) modelling of teacher psychosocial data (Reise et al, 2000; Embretson & Reise, 2000).
ii: Various multilevel models (MLM) would be used to understand the interactions between teacher 'value-added', effectiveness and motivation (Goldstein, 2011). Research examining teacher-level effects using MLM techniques is still relatively rare, especially in developing country contexts such as India, which adds to the study's originality (Thomas et al, 2015).
iii: A multidimensional index of teacher classroom practice will be created, and structural equation modelling (SEM) or alternative methods then used to model the pathway between teacher motivation and student learning (Skrondal & Rabe-Hesketh, 2004) and seek to understand how classroom practice can mediate between them.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1924077 Studentship ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 30/06/2022 Rhiannon Moore
Title Qualitative interview data from Indian education stakeholders 
Description I have collected semi-structured interview data from 9 education stakeholders in India working at national and state level (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana). Interviews focus on topics of teacher motivation, professional knowledge and classroom practices. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact NA - the dataset has only just been created. 
Description Named as a Young Lives associate (University of Oxford) 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Young Lives
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution As a result of my continued use of Young Lives data, I have been named as an Associate of the Young Lives study (University of Oxford). As an associate, I have presented findings from ongoing data analysis at Young Lives internal seminars, and will continue to do so as my study progresses.
Collaborator Contribution Young Lives staff in India have supported my primary data collection through helping me to connect with education stakeholders in India.
Impact Presentation at Young Lives team internal seminar (25/2/2021)
Start Year 2021
Description Presentation at Liverpool John Moore University School of Education Conference (2020) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact I presented preliminary PhD research at the LJMU School of Education conference (online) to postgraduate and undergraduate students, others in the School of Education, and other members of audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
Description Presentation at University of Bristol SoE Doctoral Conference (2020) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Presentation of preliminary PhD analysis to postgraduate students from UoB and other institutions, as well as other interested parties. I made connections with two other researchers from other institutions working on related topics following my presentation (through social media - Twitter).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.bristol.ac.uk/education/research/doctoral-conference-2020/
Description Presentation at Young Lives (University of Oxford) internal seminar series (2021) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Myself and a member of Young Lives staff presented some joint research we are working on to members of the Young Lives team from Oxford, and from the Young Lives country teams in Peru, Ethiopia, India and Vietnam. We received helpful comments and feedback from the wider Young Lives team on our use of the data, our analysis, and our initial findings. Several members of the team are interested in finding out more about my PhD research and have requested further information and presentations as my study progresses.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.younglives.org.uk/