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Title:Incentives in the classroom: performance-based compensation implementation and impact in high performing schools in Shanghai, China
Author(s):La Londe, Priya Goel
Director of Research:Lubienski, Christopher A
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Welton, Anjale D
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Greene, Jennifer C; McCarthy, Cameron
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Ed Organization and Leadership
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Performance-based compensation
Merit pay
Performance-pay global education policy
Shanghai
Teaching improvement
Abstract:Performance-based compensation is gaining traction in the education systems of countries that lead in the world economy and in comparative international assessments of student achievement. Longstanding and contemporary debates in educational policy and research question the potential of this incentivist policy to improve teaching. Some scholars warn that decades of experimental research have found bonuses yield little or no improvement in various measures of teaching quality and student achievement. Yet, policymakers and performance-pay advocates maintain that financial bonuses will lead to better teaching, student learning, and educational markets. As PBC persists, we remain unaware of how financial bonuses are enacted and shape teaching. To better understand how financial bonuses shape teaching, recent qualitative research has investigated exactly how performance-based compensation unfolds inside of complex school settings. Building on this emerging scholarship, this research examined the implementation of merit pay and its effects on teaching from the perspectives of teachers at School M1, a high performing elementary school in Shanghai. Those who aspire for high ranks in comparative international assessments and other proxies of global economic leadership are turning to regions such as Shanghai for lessons on “what works.” Shanghai thus provided the opportunity to investigate incentivism in a system that has gained global influence yet whose policies and corresponding practices remain understudied. A principal and 20 teachers were interviewed, and a range of policy documents were collected in This qualitative case study. Data were coded according to theory on incentivism, policy enactment, and teacher development. Responses were then further analyzed to determine recurring themes and patterns. I find that state and national policymakers and the M1 Principal intended for PBC to improve teaching quality. However, the M1 teacher participants perceived bonuses were intended to augment base pay, compensate teachers for their existing effort, and to provoke teachers to exert additional effort. Teachers had little understanding of merit pay implementation processes. While merit pay did not erode teacher relationships, and norms of respect and deference to authority guided teachers’ silence on and acceptance of the policy and shaped their participation in policy enactment. They perceived high expectancy, low instrumentality and valence, and they held mixed views on fairness. The majority of teachers suggested their sense of motivation and self-efficacy was driven by a sense of personal responsibility for collective good and by public displays of recognition from their peers and superiors. Teachers suggested that social relationships, professional community, and trust were more efficacious ways to get to improved teacher quality. Overall, teachers perceived bonuses neither inspired instructional improvement compelled their low performing peers to leave the school or the profession. Advocates suggest bonuses motivate educators to behave in desirable ways, incentivize strong teachers to join and stay in the workforce, and force weak teachers to exit. While compelling, this lens ignores how financial incentives operate in the cultural foundations of schools. Additionally, teacher perceptions of bonuses bear directly upon how bonuses are levied in schools. To assess the efficacy of PBC as a school improvement mechanism, this research offers a sorely needed school-level investigation of PBC that explores the perspectives of teachers and is founded in sociocultural lenses on school improvement. In doing so, this research builds on an emerging body of qualitative research that helps assess the prevailing hypothesis that there is a neat relationship between an incentive, teacher practice, and student learning.
Issue Date:2017-04-19
Type:Text
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/97586
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Priya La Londe
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-08-10
Date Deposited:2017-05


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