Monday, June 26th, 2017


The Math and Science Partnership – Motivation Assessment Program was established to make available and promote the use of reliable and valid scales for the measurement of motivation-related person and situation variables that influence math and science achievement. MSP-MAP (2003-2007) primarily focused on students, but included teachers as well. Further information about MSP-MAP is available from the final report.


MSP teacher professional development (PD) interventions are designed to increase teacher content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge, assuming that the resulting changes in instructional practices will boost student learning and performance. There is considerable consensus (although not necessarily empirical support; Weiss, 2009) for the features of PD programs that are necessary and sufficient for their success (e.g., Darling-Hammond, et al., 2009; Guskey, 2003; Hassel, 1999; Hawley & Valli, 1998; Loucks-Horsley, et al., 2003; National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 1996; Weiss & Pasley, 2009). Even if those general principles are known, however, it remains necessary to determine their impact across a broad range of conditions. In determining the success of PD programs, a recent review of research and evaluation designs stressed the need to assess proximal outcomes of PD, most notably the changes in teacher knowledge and teacher practices that mediate the effects of interventions, on achievement (Wayne et al., 2008). Indeed there is evidence that MSP and other NSF programs often do include such mediators, as documented by recent studies of NSF’s Local Systemic Change initiative (Boyd, et al., 2003; Heck, et al., 2006) and MSP programs (Zhang, et al., 2008).

In addition to the focus on teacher knowledge and practices, there are also urgent calls to examine the role of teacher motivation in PD. Goldsmith and Schifter (1997), for example, suggested that descriptions of teacher development need to add accounts of individual motivational and dispositional factors. Similarly, in his more contemporary review, Tittle (2006) concluded that while “[t]here are references [in the literature] to motivation and affective (or dispositional) characteristics as important to teacher learning…[f]ew studies address these areas, areas that are likely to be important for assessments of long-term professional learning and development” (p. 976). Boyd et al. (2003) highlighted the critical role of teacher motivation in professional development as one of their four key recommendations: “A primary challenge for large-scale professional development projects lies in attracting teachers and sustaining their involvement so that they can receive the full dose of professional development” (p. 112). And yet, the most recent work on PD in math and science (Weiss & Pasley, 2009) does not explicitly include motivation (Weiss, personal communication). Motivational concerns, while often alluded to in passing (e.g., with regard to participation incentives or teacher confidence), thus remain a critical yet understudied component of teacher PD interventions.

Most obviously, motivation factors can influence the likelihood that teachers will opt to participate in PD. As stated in the study of Local Systemic Change, “You have to make every effort to get the teachers there and once you get them there, you have to make sure you have something of high quality that will encourage them to come back” (Boyd, et al., 2003, p. 47), which is particularly important for higher education faculty (Zhang et al., 2008). Differential rates of participation—which results in the potential for selection bias—poses major problems for evaluation, which must take the level of involvement (or “dosage”) into consideration when determining the effects of PD (Wayne, et al., 2008). Second, even for teachers who participate, the extent of their participation can moderate the degree to which teachers will profit from that experience. Third, PD can influence motivation for teaching math and science in general (Alexander, 2008; Tittle, 2006), and for attempting new instructional practices (e.g., reform math and problem-based science) that incur costs and risks as well as benefits and challenges (De Corte, et al., 1996; Gregoire, 2003; Hargreaves, 1998; Richardson & Placier, 2001; Smith, 2000).

Fortunately, the recognized importance of teacher motivation in the PD process arises at a time of renewed interest on teacher motivation in general (Watt & Richardson, 2008), which can be applied to the more specific domain of teacher PD. What distinguishes this work is its comprehensive application of contemporary motivation theory and research. As discussed subsequently, these approaches include expectancy-value (Watt & Richardson, 2008), achievement goals (Butler & Shibaz, 2008) and interest theories (Hidi, & Renninger, 2006), and new ways to think about emotion and affect (Pekrun, 2007). These conceptual frameworks offer a range of constructs and their assessment that are particularly relevant for PD in math and science instruction in general, and thus for the formative and summative evaluation of teacher PD interventions in the MSP program in particular.

The challenge, therefore, is to systematically apply current knowledge of teacher motivation to the domain of teacher PD. Meeting that challenge involves specifying the varying ways that motivation functions in the PD process, which includes the motivation-related factors that determine whether teachers will participate in PD and the motivational consequences of that participation. It also necessitates creating and modifying assessment tools to operationalize these constructs. In its role as a RETA, MSP-MAP II will directly support the work of MSPs with methodologically rigorous cross-site studies of teacher motivation and its influence on student achievement. Specific goals are to:

  • Develop a knowledge base of theory, research, and assessment of teacher motivation and the PD process that MSPs can use in the design and evaluation of their interventions
  • Develop and make available a suite of reliable motivation-related assessment tools, validated with teacher populations and in PD contexts, for MSPs to include for purposes of PD design and formative and summative evaluation
  • Collaborate with MSPs to test and refine features of a proposed model of motivation and teacher PD with a goal of explaining impacts of MSP activities, and PD more broadly, on teacher learning and student achievement
  • Facilitate the incorporation of the model and motivation-related PD assessment tools into existing and future MSP logic models and evaluation designs
  • Disseminate the motivation and PD model and assessment tools to the broader teaching and research community


To date there has been no systematic focus on the factors that influence teachers’ motivation for participating in professional development, their level of engagement during professional development activities, and the degree to which teachers’ motivation and engagement influences what they learn and apply in their classroom instruction. The present comprehensive review of motivation and teacher professional development is designed to provide that overview in order to inform those planning, conducting and evaluating professional development in math and science. The review spans a wide array of sources that in some manner represent the intersection of teacher motivation and professional development.

The area of teacher professional development continues to be of growing interest nationally and internationally. The wide assortment of sources in this literature review explore the factors that contribute most to motivating teachers to engage in professional development, the ways that teachers experience their participation, and analyses of how this enhances teacher and student learning. The role of motivational theories mentioned in these articles has been viewed in the context of professional development programs and their implications for educational practice and the potential to improve student achievement. The purpose is to apply motivation research in developing a new understanding and approach for the integration of motivation theories into the process of teacher participation and professional development design.