Quality of worklife for rural and remote teachers: perspectives of novice, interstate and overseas-qualified teachers

Elaine Sharplin

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated abstract] It is essential to attract, recruit and retain quality teachers in rural and remote schools for provision of quality education to rural and remote students. A robust body of research confirms that teacher quality contributes to quality of education (Darling-Hammond, 2000; Hay McBer, 2000; Kaplan & Owings, 2002; OECD, 2002; Ramsay, 2000). Staffing histories of rural and remote schools identify persistent difficulties in recruiting and retaining teachers, but previous research has failed to address the experiences and perspectives of rural and remote teachers from the earliest phases of appointment, tracking their experiences over time. In times and places of persistent teacher shortages, teacher quality of worklife issues are paramount. Factors impacting on teacher quality of worklife may impact on teacher retention, staffing levels and ultimately the quality of education for children. For these reasons, this study aimed to develop substantive theory about the experiences of teachers commencing appointments in rural and remote schools by investigating the perspectives of novice, interstate and overseas-qualified teachers. The study sought to develop understandings of rural and remote teachers quality of worklife. In order to achieve this aime, the experiences of 29 teachers were examined, in four categories of teachers likely to be appointed to rural and remote locations: young novices; mature-aged novices; interstate; and overseas-qualified teachers in a qualitative collective case study. ... Awareness of the variety of factors in multiple environments, and the complex interplay between them, helps to account for the diversity of perspectives and quality of worklife outcomes for rural and remote teachers. Two theories were generated from ten propositions. The first theory, Quality of Worklife for Rural and Remote Teachers: Person-Environment Fit to Multiple Environments, identified protective and risk factors associated with workrole, workplace, organisation, geographic and socio-cultural community environments. The theory recognises spillover between work and non-work life experiences, impacting on quality of teacher worklife; however, factors directly associated with worklife impacted most significantly on quality of worklife. The second theory, Processes of Adaptation to Multiple Rural and Remote Environments, identified processes (teacher expectations, evaluations of environments, responses to environments) and coping strategies (direct-action, palliative and avoidant) as leading to one of four outcomes: integration; resilient integration; disequilibrium; and withdrawal. The case study findings offer original understandings of experiences of teachers newly appointed to rural and remote schools, through the development of theory about multiple environments teachers encounter and processes of adaptation associated with their relocation to rural and remote areas. The findings have implications for theory, policy and practice, and contribute new dimensions to the general quality of worklife literature.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2008

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