School-based reward practices and quality education in secondary schools in Masaka District
Lubega, Francis Xavier
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The difficulty of finding appropriate reward programs which can sustainably promote quality education prompted this study to examine school-based reward practices and their motivational implications on quality education in secondary schools in Masaka District, Uganda. The objectives were: to explore teacher reward practices prevalent in the study context; to examine the motivational worth of prevalent teacher reward practices; to examine the relationship between prevalent reward practices and quality teaching, as well as between these practices and quality of students’ academic achievement. Based on pragmatism, this study was conducted in 23 secondary schools through a cross-sectional mixed methods research design, over a sample of 368 participants, using stratified random and purposive sampling. The data, collected using questionnaires, interviews and documentary review, were analysed using themes, frequency distributions, Chi-square test of independence, and correlation analysis. The study discovered that, first, various school-based reward practices were prevalent. Secondly, the motivational worth of many reward practices was highly significant. Thirdly, a positive relationship was found between school-based reward practices and effective teaching. Fourthly, a positive relationship was found between school-based reward practices and the quality of students’ academic achievement. The study concluded that, first, the wide variety of reward practices confounds attempts to identify the best strategies of using rewards to incentivise teachers and that the practices targeting UNEB results narrow down the notion of teacher performance and limits merit-based rewards within academic confines. Secondly, the variety of reward practices whose motivational worth is significant reflects the complexity of teacher motivation, implying that reward managers may not effectively sustain teacher motivation unless teachers’ cooperation is well utilized. Thirdly, teacher-driven school-based reward practices coupled with salary enhancement are likely to promote quality teaching. Fourthly, improved salaries and greater participation of teachers in school-based reward practice are likely to promote students’ quality learning. It was therefore recommended that, first, instead of focusing on reward types and magnitudes which are unlimited and whose motivational merit is elusive, managers should focus on the trustworthiness of reward practice. Secondly, school-level reward managers should espouse the practice of involving teachers in reward-related decision making in order to utilize the strong motivational force generated by dignified involvement. Under objective three and four, it was recommended that reward managers should adopt practices which offer attractive salaries and attach special importance to teachers’ direct or representative involvement in decision making concerning rewards. The study also proposed a model of school-based teacher reward practice.