Teachers’ motivations for master’s degree programs in education in Israeli teacher training institutions and the implications for government policy-making concerning those programs

November 2019

Source: Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 47:5, 524-538

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The authors’ mission has been to evaluate the characteristics and typologies of the Israeli teachers training colleges M.Ed. programs, as well as the characteristics of teachers studying in the programs.
The research described in this paper aimed to examine existing M.Ed. programs in Israel according to the distinction between transmissive and transformative programs, since the authors assert that these two types of programs represent the different policies of the two governing authorities responsible for the development of M.Ed. programs in Israel: the Council for Higher Education (CHE) and the Ministry of Education (MoE).
These two opposite approaches differ from one another as to who should assume the authority for the substance of teaching knowledge (Kennedy, 2014).
Based on this conceptual background, the authors view the M.Ed. programs that are empirical and practice-oriented as more suited to a transformative approach; while programs that are more theoretical and less practice-oriented are more in line with the transmissive approach to teacher development.

This study asked the following research questions:
(1) What were the goals of the existing M.Ed. programs according to a two-fold typology: (transmissive/top-down taught knowledge versus transformative/bottom up knowledge to enhance professionalism and self-growth)?
(2) Is there a correlation between the motivation to study (intrinsic or extrinsic) of teachers who graduate from M.Ed. programs and their initial preference to study at a teacher training college or at a university?

This study employed both qualitative and quantitative methodologies (Creswell & Plano, 2007) to understand trends in the proliferation of M.Ed. programs in Israel and their perceived outcomes, based on the following multiple data sources:

● Official documents relating to these programs and published plans of the Israeli MoE and the CHE.
● A preliminary survey of the programs’ graduates attitudes gathered from a self-report questionnaire.
Participants were 820 graduates, namely 20% of all graduates who completed their studies between 2004 and 2014 in M.Ed. programs at 12 teacher training colleges (out of a total of 21 colleges that offered M.Ed. programs).
Measures were taken to ensure that the participants in the survey were a representative sample.

The research instrument - The main instrument was an online self-report questionnaire designed specifically for this study and developed after interviews with 27 graduates.
This instrument was constructed in reliance on previous literature on motivation to study and choosing a HE institution, as was discussed in the authors’ earlier publications (Arar et al., 2015, 2016).
Here the authors report only the results of the following two subsections of the questionnaire:
(1) Yes/No question: did you also consider another kind of master’s degree program (M.A. or M.Sc. studied at universities) before deciding to study the M.Ed. program?
(2) The kind of motivation to study towards an M.Ed. degree.


1. Results from the documentary analysis
The goals of the existing programs according to a twofold typology (transmissive/ top-down knowledge versus transformative/bottom up knowledge for professionalism and self-growth).

According to the CHE (2003), the master’s programs in education offered by the universities aim to develop a research orientation for their graduates’ while they envisage the goals of the M.Ed. programs in teacher training colleges as imparting procedural knowledge to working teachers and less as providing them with tools to develop as self-inquirers.
The MoE, by contrast, sees the M.Ed. programs in the teacher training colleges as being aimed at developing the practicing teachers’ tools to define the teaching profession according to their own understanding, thereby promoting their autonomy.
To improve their understanding of the M.Ed. programs’ goals, the authors scanned all the different M.Ed. programs offered in 2014.
Their examination of the content of these programs allowed them to divide the programs according to two goals.
More than half (36 out of 67 programs; 54%) aimed to develop or change the teacher’s career. The other half (31 out of 67) are programs to enhance knowledge for the teaching of particular school disciplines such as art, second languages, etc.
The single most prevalent program is Educational Management: 11 programs are offered in half of the teacher training colleges.

2. Findings from the questionnaire
The relationship between teachers’ motivational orientation (intrinsic, extrinsic, research) and their initial preference to study according to the type of institution (Teacher training college versus university).
To learn about the teachers’ preferences and motivations, the authors drew on the data from their preliminary survey with the sample of teachers who graduated from the M. Ed. programs. Nearly 60% of these teachers (472 out of 793) answered “Yes” to the question whether or not they had considered studying at one of the universities, which offered a different type of master’s degree and were considered far more prestigious than teacher training colleges, before deciding to study in a teacher training college.
Based on this result, they compared the means for different kinds of motivation in two groups of students: those who had considered a university and those who had not.
The results indicate that intrinsic motivation was the highest and research motivation was the lowest.
The two groups did not differ with regard to the level of any kind (intrinsic, extrinsic and research) of motivation to study.

Discussion and conclusion
The authors’ findings regarding motivation to study indicated that the teachers attributed the highest rankings to intrinsic motivation, namely motivation for self-development (Adcroft, 2011; Danielson, 2007).
The next highest ranking was given to extrinsic motivation, namely requirements such as the desire for a higher salary, or motivation induced by pressure from their work places and surroundings.
The lowest rankings were given to motivation to conduct research.
These results confirm what is already known about the motivation of Israeli teachers studying in other kinds of master’s degree programs (Arar et al., 2015, 2016).
In light of their findings, the authors propose that there is a relationship between the teacher’s type of motivation for M.Ed. degree studies theory and the suitability of an M.Ed. program that has either a transformative or a transmissive goal.
The transformative approach to teachers’ education can be seen as being suited for teachers, who are motivated mainly by intrinsic motivation; while the transmissive approach to teachers’ education for teachers might respond to the needs of those teachers who are motivated by extrinsic motivation as a fast track to achieve a further degree (Kelchtermans, 2009).
Based on the presupposed connection between a transformative orientation for M.Ed. programs and intrinsic motivation, the authors conclude that such an orientation should be encouraged based on teachers’ points of view as voiced in their findings.
The authors believe that government policy-makers could learn from this study.
A possible implication of the results is that the transformative approach to M.Ed, studies promoted by the MoE, rather than the transmissive approach promoted by the CHE, is more attuned to the needs and motivation of practicing teachers.
Based on the findings, they recommend strengthening the transformative approach to M.Ed. programs in order to allow teachers as much autonomous teaching as possible, so that they can in turn use such an approach in their school teaching as it can improve school students’ achievement (Elmore, 2002).

Adcroft, A. (2011). The motivations to study and expectations of studying of undergraduate students in business and management. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 35, 521–543
Arar, K., Abramovitz R., & Bar-Yishay, H. (2015). The choice of a higher education institution: A preliminary investigation of the considerations of Jewish and Arab teachers studying for a master degree in education. International Studies in Widening Participation, 2(1), 28–42.
Arar, K., Abramovitz, R., Bar-Yishay, H. & Notzer, N. (2016). Academic choices and motivation: Diverse groups in Israel. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 20(10), 1–15.
Creswell, J. W., & Plano, C. V. L. (2007). Designing and conducting mixed methods research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Danielson, C. (2007). The many faces of teacher leadership. Educational Leadership, 65, 14–19
Elmore, R. (2002). Bridging the gap between standards and achievement: The imperative for professional development education [brochure]. Washington, DC: Albert Shanker Institute.
Kelchtermans, G. (2009). Who I am in how I teach is the message: Self understanding, vulnerability and reflection. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 15(2), 257–272
Kennedy, A. (2014). Understanding continuing professional development: The need for theory to impact on policy and practice. Professional Development in Education, 40(5), 688–697 

Updated: Mar. 01, 2020