An exploration of how teachers in Catholic secondary schools understand their roles in promoting student development

Prof Doc Thesis


Rangiira, Brett. (2021) An exploration of how teachers in Catholic secondary schools understand their roles in promoting student development [Prof Doc Thesis]. Australian Catholic University Faculty of Education and Arts https://doi.org/10.26199/acu.8w363
AuthorsRangiira, Brett
TypeProf Doc Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Education
Abstract

The success of Catholic education depends largely on teachers’ performance within their roles, and how they meet the multiple stakeholder expectations for students’ intellectual, social and personal, and faith development. How teachers make sense of this complex set of expectations and understand their roles in promoting students’ development is central to their performance. However, this issue has to date received little attention within the literature, and the limited understanding of how teachers in Catholic secondary schools understand their roles in promoting student development is the research problem addressed by this study. It is a significant research problem because conceptualising how teachers understand their roles may provide insights for stakeholders to collaboratively engage with teachers in Catholic secondary schools on their fundamental responsibility of promoting student development, and may also support teachers themselves to reflect more deeply on the nature of their professional identity.

The purpose of this research then is to investigate how teachers in Catholic secondary schools understand their roles in promoting student development. A review of the literature located this issue within the broader topic of teacher professional identity and a body of associated research was synthesised to generate the research questions. This included research exploring teacher cognitions, emotions, biographical narratives, reflection and reflexivity, context and professional identity, teacher agency, and teacher–teacher and teacher–student relationships. It also considered frameworks for understanding the nature of spirituality and faith.

The study addresses one major research question and four specific research questions (SRQs). The major research question is How do teachers in contemporary Catholic secondary schools understand their roles in promoting student development? The SRQs are as follows:
• SRQ1: How do teachers in contemporary Catholic secondary schools understand their roles in promoting students’ intellectual development?
• SRQ2: How do teachers in contemporary Catholic secondary schools understand their roles in promoting students’ social and personal development?
• SRQ3: How do teachers in contemporary Catholic secondary schools understand their roles in promoting students’ faith development?
• SRQ4: How do teachers understand the influence that working in contemporary Catholic secondary schools has on how they understand their roles in promoting students’ development?

This research employed constructivist grounded theory methodology within an interpretivist research paradigm and a symbolic interactionist theoretical perspective. The data xiv How Teachers in Catholic Secondary Schools Understand Their Roles in Promoting Student Development collection and analysis generated a grounded theory called situated pedagogical agency, and this grounded theory was used to provide answers to the research questions. This research found that teachers in Catholic secondary schools are active agents in promoting their students’ development, and they interpret and prioritise goals and ideals for this development through their own ideals and understandings. Hence, the title of the grounded theory – situated pedagogical agency – reflects teachers’ understanding that they exercise pedagogical agency in the promotion of their students’ development through two core pedagogical processes situated between their own pedagogical attributes and the school’s pedagogical determinants.

Given the predominantly qualitative nature of the methodology and researcher positionality, the limitations of the study include issues of generalisation of the findings, authenticity of the data and analysis, and representativeness of the sample of teacher participants. Each of these limitations is addressed in the final chapter.

Finally, there are seven recommendations arising from the study:
• Recommendation 1: Engage teachers in schools to explore and develop their pedagogical attributes.
• Recommendation 2: Support teachers in their efforts to build and maintain positive relationships with their students.
• Recommendation 3: Encourage teachers to consider the nature and significance of authentic dialogue for promoting students’ spiritual and faith development.
• Recommendation 4: Develop situated pedagogical agency as a conceptual tool for analysing enablers and disablers in teachers’ efforts to promote their students’ development.
• Recommendation 5: Conduct further research to verify and develop situated pedagogical agency as a theory for explaining how teachers in Catholic secondary schools understand their roles in promoting student development.
• Recommendation 6: Conduct research to explore how others understand their and the teachers’ roles in promoting student development.
• Recommendation 7: Develop a contemporary Catholic theory of education to underpin teacher formation.

Year2021
PublisherAustralian Catholic University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26199/acu.8w363
Page range1-354
Final version
File Access Level
Controlled
Publication process dates
Deposited09 Jun 2021
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