Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership

Committee Chair/Advisor

Flanigan, Jackson

Committee Member

Grimes , Lawrence

Committee Member

Horton , Bob

Committee Member

Marion , Russ


Results of the 2007-2008 South Carolina inservice teachers' survey were analyzed for levels of reported competence, autonomy, and relatedness in existing working conditions. These results were compared to the expected level of competence, autonomy, and relatedness indicated by preservice teachers in January of 2009 at Clemson University. Levels of existing competence, autonomy, and relatedness reported by inservice teachers in their working conditions were consistently higher than the levels expected by preservice teachers and these differences were found to be significantly different using an analysis of variance.
Themes revealed by principal component analysis showed similarities to the basic needs of competence, autonomy, and relatedness as defined within self-determination theory. Competence issues related to teachers' abilities to plan lessons and work effectively with students of various abilities and appeared as a factor in both inservice and preservice teacher results. Autonomy appeared as empowerment and class control in factors for both teacher groups. Relatedness appeared linked to all of the factors appearing in the factor analyses through relationships with administrators, other teachers, parents, and students. Averages for the inservice and preservice teachers' on the common questions appearing in comparable factors, as well as factor scores on comparable factors identified through the factor analysis were compared using an analysis of variance and revealed significant differences between the two teacher groups with lower averages and factor scores for preservice teachers.
The results of this research indicated that the 2007-2008 inservice teachers in South Carolina perceived their existing working conditions as meeting their basic needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness, but the preservice teachers in the Clemson University cohort have lower expectations about these need fulfillments. Further study of teacher working conditions and educational opportunities for preservice and new teachers to learn more about teacher working conditions is recommended to help alleviate the problematic issues facing teacher retention.



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