Impact of teachers' behaviours on student motivation and exam performance

  • Deborah Flitcroft

Student thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology


Student motivation is a significant concept as school teachers need to be able to mobilise students to work towards success in examinations. This thesis investigated the impact of teachers' behaviours on students' motivation and examination performance and how these behaviours could be adapted to suit the needs of students. A systematic review of the literature examined how secondary school teachers use motivational strategies in respect of student academic assessment, performance and attainment. Six studies were included in the review and showed both the positive and negative impacts of teacher behaviour on students' academic performance. The review highlighted a need for further research on teachers' knowledge of the impact of their behaviours on student motivation. An empirical study was completed which engaged high school teachers as participants, affording the opportunity to reflect on their current practice from feedback from their students. The research progressed through 3 phases: focus group of six teachers teaching high stakes examination programmes to students age 14-16 (English GCSEs); 10 interviews with students selected from each teacher's classes; and a second focus group re-convening the teachers. The research found a link between what students perceived to be motivational and the changes that teachers were able to envisage for future practice, indicating that teachers were able to learn from their students. The implications for educational psychologist practice and future research are discussed.Finally, the thesis concludes with a reflection of the dissemination of the above pieces of research. Dissemination focussed on offering the findings to schools and using methods of consultation and collaboration to integrate findings in to school practice.
Date of Award31 Dec 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorKevin Woods (Supervisor) & Cathy Atkinson (Supervisor)


  • student motivation
  • teacher behaviour
  • teacher language
  • examination performance
  • teachers as researchers

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