Northampton Electronic Collection of Theses and Research

Teacher motivation in special education in China

Feng, Y. (2008) Teacher motivation in special education in China. Paper presented to: British Educational Research Association (BERA) Annual Conference 2008, Edinburgh, 3 - 6 September 2008. (Unpublished)

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Abstract: Although China has a civilised history and distinguished Confucian tradition of valuing education, special education as an institution was not established until 19th century (Deng, et al. 2001). In the long run, special education has been attached importance by Chinese government and has been treated as one composition of the system of national education and been involved in the constitution (Jin, 2000). The current government is providing a favourable and supportive atmosphere in which to develop special education. However, due to the nature of special education, special education remains relatively a low government priority in this densely populated country with unbalanced economic strengths in diverse regions. In the development of special and inclusive education, China is encountering challenges of the poverty in vast rural areas with a total population of 80%, the identification and diagnostic procedures of children with special needs, and the establishment of the family and professional collaboration. However, the most pressing problem currently facing special education is the scarcity of qualified special teachers due to the issues of social status and recognition, salary, working conditions, professional development and etc. The number and the quality of special education teachers can possibly illustrate the current situation of special and inclusive education. According to the official statistics by the Ministry of Education of China (MoE, 2003), in 2003, there were altogether 30,349 teachers and staff in special education, among which there were no doctoral degree holders, 48 with graduate attainment, 3,757 with undergraduate attainment and the rest had lower educational backgrounds. On the one hand, government documents (e.g., MoE, 2001, Article 10) attached great importance to the training of the teachers for special needs education. But on the other hand, the government’s statistics (MoE, 2003) show that only about 50% of the teachers and staff had received some special training. By 2004, the professionals with associate professors or higher rank in special education had been fewer than 30 all over China (Yu, 2004, cited in Pang and Richey, 2006). This shows little significance in comparison with the total number and qualification of other teachers in the country. The Educational Laws for the Disabled in China (1994, Article 4) made it clear that it is the local government’s responsibility to oversee the education of the disabled, and yet there are tremendous differences in the educational provision and the support for teacher education due to the financial constraints and priority issues. This inevitably influences the career choice of people to work with children with special needs and the retention of teachers in special schools. This research addresses some critical issues in special education in China with a focus on the motivation of teachers’ career choice through the investigation into their values, attitudes and perspectives on special education which influence their choice. The researcher aims to find out the driving forces for special education teachers to start or go on with their career and whether they find the profession a real rewarding one in the context in China. Though the research literature in the field of teacher education is extensive (Chan, 1998, Li, 1999, Paine, 1991, Cortazzi, and Li, 2001, Forrester, et al. 2006), very little literature exists that describes the feelings and thoughts of teachers in the special education (Chen 2005). Even less exists about the motivation for their career choices. To obtain an overview of the research topic, the sample for the research was established from two special schools in a city in the eastern part of China with a population of more than half a million people. The city is located in the second tier area of the country in terms of economic strength. It is famous for its rich culture in history. Education has been much better valued for centuries in comparison with other regions in China. As there is currently a great market-driven tendency in China for the choice of profession, the researcher has special interest in scrutinising the motivation of teachers’ career choice. The reasons for the research settings and the sample choice are that the city in China is a representation of the recent development of China and the two schools are the only ones to accommodate children with mental retardation and sensory impairments in the area. A semi-structured open-ended questionnaire survey aiming to explore the career motivation of teachers in special education was developed by the application of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Data were also gathered by means of qualitative methods from semi-structured in-depth interviews, teacher stories, observations and documentary analysis for triangulation. The interview was used to capture some senior cohort’s depth and understanding of their career choices, their teaching experiences and their perceptions and attitudes of working with children with special needs. 3 teachers were purposely selected from the voluntary participants as case study sample based on the typicality and exceptionality
Uncontrolled Keywords: teacher career motivation, teacher education, special education, China
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1705 Education and training of teachers and administrators
L Education > LA History of education > LA410 Other regions or countries > LA1131 China
L Education > LC Special aspects of Education > LC3950 Exceptional children and youth. Special education
Creators: Feng, Y
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Faculty of Education & Humanities > Special Education Needs and Inclusion
Faculties > Faculty of Education & Humanities > Special Education Needs and Inclusion
Date: 2008
Date Type: Publication
Event Title: British Educational Research Association (BERA) Annual Conference 2008
Event Dates: 3 - 6 September 2008
Event Location: Edinburgh
Event Type: Conference
Language: English
Status: Unpublished
Refereed: Yes

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