THE INFLUENCE OF TEACHER EMPOWERMENT ON TEACHER INTENTION TO LEAVE: AN EXPLORATORY ANALYSIS

Open Access
Author:
Liu, Jing
Graduate Program:
Educational Leadership
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
March 11, 2019
Committee Members:
  • Deborah L. Schussler, Dissertation Advisor
  • Deborah L. Schussler, Committee Chair
  • Gerald K. LeTendre, Committee Member
  • Soo-yong Byun, Committee Member
  • Bernard J. Badiali, Outside Member
Keywords:
  • TEACHER EMPOWERMENT
  • INTENTION TO LEAVE
  • TEACHER ATTRITION
Abstract:
Teacher attrition is the primary cause of teacher shortage—an increasingly serious problem since the 1990s in the United States. Retaining teachers in their schools is thus one of the most effective ways to mitigate the problem of teacher shortage, considering both financial and intangible costs. Among the strategies to keep teachers in schools, teacher empowerment is one effective strategy for retaining teachers. However, further studies are needed to examine the relationship between teacher empowerment and intention to leave (or attrition. This is because (1) few studies explain the relationship between empowerment and intention to leave, and (2) the definition and measurement of teacher empowerment are vague. This study responds to the limitations and aims (1) to propose a framework for understanding the relationship between teacher empowerment and intention to leave, and (2) to test the framework through empirical data. The study addresses five questions: (1) Do teachers feel empowered with respect to decision making? (2) Do empowered teachers expect to remain in the classroom in current schools (with or without controlling for other factors related to attrition)? (3) Does the relationship between teacher empowerment and teacher intention to leave differ between experienced teachers and novice teachers? (4) What is the impact of different kinds of teacher empowerment—school level or classroom level—on teacher intention to leave? (5) What other factors influence teacher intention to leave (while keeping teacher empowerment constant? This study applied multinomial logistic regressions on state-level data to answer the research questions. Results show that at least 39% of all surveyed teachers felt empowered—i.e. that they are willing to and participate in decision making, and at least 85% of all teachers perceived leader support on decision making. Fewer teachers who intended to leave felt empowered compared to teachers who did not intend to leave. For the relationship between empowerment and intention to leave, teachers had greater intention to stay in the classroom when they felt empowered in classroom-level activities but had greater intention to leave when they felt empowered in school-level activities. The distinctive findings can be explained by teacher capabilities, cost/benefits from participating in decision making, and the impact on classroom/school issues. Besides teacher empowerment, the study also found how other factors (such as teacher race/ethnicity and school climate) related with teacher intention to leave. Overall, the study contributes to the literature both theoretically and empirically. The findings indicate that encouraging teacher empowerment is related to teacher intention to leave, probably for experienced teachers. The study also provides a guideline for leaders and teachers to practice empowerment.