Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Teacher motivation and teaching

University-school partnerships are important constellations for teachers’ professional learning. The present study investigates how both teacher characteristics and contextual factors are related to teachers’ motivation to participate in the university-school partnership, and the relationship between teacher motivation and teacher teaching practices.

2016 - 2020
China Scholarship Council (CSC)


  • X. Zhang MSc - PhD candidate
  • prof.dr. W.F. Admiraal - supervisor
  • dr. N. Saab - supervisor

Research question

  1. How are teachers' personal factors and their perceived work conditions related to their motivation to participate in a university-school partnership?
  2. How are teachers’ motivation related to their teaching practices in a university-school partnership ?


In recent years, university-school partnerships have become increasingly important for educational reforms in China. The purpose of these collaborations is to improve education and to switch from teacher-centered teaching practices to more creative student-centered approaches. At the same time, schools are required to equip students with skills in critical thinking, collaboration and ability of independently analyzing and solving problems.  Under such circumstances, more and more schools decide to participate in  university-school partnerships to improve school teachers’ teaching quality. However, school teachers cannot decide whether to become professionalized or not by themselves. This article explores which factors will affect teachers’ motivation and how teachers’ motivation and teaching quality change during the university-school partnership if the participation is mandatory.

Social and scientific relevance

This study will help school teachers, university educators and research directors in China to better understand each other. Additionally, the findings in this study will shed light on refining, enhancing or implementing collaborative efforts into their educational practices, and to help improve the school teacher professional development. It also may help the Chinese policy makers to establish a mechanism to link these findings for effective collaboration.

Most of the previous work on university-school partnerships mainly focuses on its mechanism, effectiveness and theoretical framework, but few scrutinized a specific case from a practical perspective. Moreover, many known studies come from a context other than China. Thus this study intends to establish what is known in the context of China. It would be interesting to see the Chinese educators', directors' and teachers' attitudes toward the collaboration.

Material and methods

A questionnaire was used to explore the motivation of  Chinese teachers and other influencing factors. Multivariate analysis was chosen to evaluate how teachers’ personal factors and contextual factors were related to teachers’ motivation to participate in university-school partnerships. For the relationship between teacher motivation and teacher teaching practices, we used the structural equation modeling to investigate our hypotheses.

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