Achievement Motivation Theory for Teachers

Punita RiceTeaching

Achievement Motivation Theory and Teachers

Have you heard of Achievement Motivation Theory? It’s an approach to leadership that emphasizes focusing on achievement through individual efforts  (House & Aditya, 1997). It also emphasizes individual effort and outcomes, which makes it a good framework for thinking about teaching. Here are some thoughts on Achievement Motivation Theory…

According to House & Aditya (1997)…

Every educator should be able to “set challenging goals for themselves, assume personal responsibility for goal accomplishment, persistent in pursuit of goals, take risks, use feedback.” (p. 413)

My classmate, Emmanuel Taiwo, responded to my thoughts by expressing agreement that achievement motivation theory is relevant to work within the classroom. According to him…

“Achievement-motivated teachers constantly seek improvements and better ways of teaching and supporting students. Further, student engagement – on-task behaviors, work completion, and participation — is a major observable manifestation of achievement motivation in the classroom.” – classmate Emmanuel Taiwo

I thought about his response, and expanded on my thoughts. I agreed with him — the role of a teacher is complemented by being open to feedback and self-improvement. This seems to be the nature of any educator. I wonder if various forms of teacher evaluation (including, as you mention, student engagement as a measure of teacher effectiveness) are a way for teachers to gauge their own achievement and go from there.

Achievement Motivation Theory for Teachers

Achievement Motivation Theory is a good way to think about teacher leadership.

For instance, autocratic leadership styles may be tough to implement, and may be inappropriate. Our work as educators, by nature, requires collaboration and flexibility, and is thus ill-suited to leadership of that nature. Yes, a good leader should be able to make good decisions, but he or she should not do so without a genuine understanding of both the needs and the interests of the group he or she serves.

This is absolutely true for education leaders (administrators, policy makers, higher level leaders, etc.) but it is also true for teachers in classrooms. Students’ learning preferences and needs should also always inform instruction directly. In any role, education leaders need to collaborate with all stakeholders before making decisions that impact the lives of students.

LMP and charismatic leadership theory (House & Aditya, 1997) are emphasize motivating others, especially subordinates (p. 415) toward an action. But teacher leaders do not necessarily lead subordinates (or even feel that they have subordinates!), nor do they necessarily always feel they have to motivate their team toward new beliefs. Instead, teacher leaders may be more focused on motivation toward a particular action to support beliefs the team already holds, given that the team is comprised of caring and motivated educators as well (the phrase preaching to the choir comes to mind). Further, I do not much think about “social influence behavior” (p. 414).

House, R.J. & Aditya, R.N (1997). The social scientific study of leadership: Quo vadis? Journal of Management, 23, 409-473.