Sample Dissertation On A Descriptive Phenomenological Approach To Understanding ‘warm Demanding’:
Evidence from Public School Teachers
Belinda J. Haye
Northcentral UniversityChapter 1: Introduction
The topic of this qualitative study is the identification and application of the teacher orientation of warm demanding in a school environment characterized by recent declines in student performance. A descriptive phenomenological approach will be utilized to determine how successful, experienced teachers at this school are able to convey warm demanding, and the results of this inquiry will be applied to embedding warm demanding in a professional learning community (PLC), among other forms of personnel interaction in the school.
The roots of warm demanding theory lie in the 1960s-era discovery of the so-called Galatea effect, in which students were found to live up or live down to the expectations of their teachers (McNatt & Judge, 2004; Rowe & O'Brien, 2002). Subsequent empirical research demonstrated that teachers’ beliefs about the capacities of their students are, to some extent, self-fulfilling (McNatt & Judge, 2004; Rowe & O'Brien, 2002). This empirical finding confirmed what teachers and theorists had argued for a long time, namely that teachers’ positive orientation towards students is a prime determining factor in their academic success (Ladson-Billings, 1999). Warmth is one name given to this positive orientation; it comprises belief, encouragement, care, trust, and related emotions and orientations (Bondy, Ross, Hambacher, & Acosta, 2013).
Other empirical studies identified teacher demanding as an important factor in student success (Bondy et al., 2013). However, the demanding orientation was found to have hard limits. Teachers who were too demanding simply alienated their students, who either overtly or covertly rebelled against teachers’ expectations. Subsequent research combined the themes of warmth and demanding and noted that the combination of these two orientations was a far more likely predictor of student success.
There is thus a consensus among educational scholars that successful teachers manage to combine two distinct attitudes, warmth and demandingness (Bondy et al., 2013; Bonner, 2014; Davis, Gabelman, & Wingfield, 2011; Ford & Sassi, 2014; Houchen, 2013; Ross, Bondy, Gallingane, & Hambacher, 2008; Rowe & O'Brien, 2002; Shevalier & McKenzie, 2012; Xu, Coats, & Davidson, 2012). Teachers who are warm but do not ask their students to push for achievement are often unable to motivate students to work harder inside and outside the classroom. Teachers who are demanding but not warm can alienate students. However, teachers who can combine the orientations of warmth and demandingness give students the combination of trust, motivation, support, and challenge that are associated with high academic achievement.
Despite the consensus in the academic literature about the success of warm demanding as a teacher orientation, there are few practical guides that can help teachers to understand what this phenomenon is, much less to implement it. One reason for this difficulty is that warmth and demandingness are both context-specific; in other words, the behaviors that seem warm and demanding to students depend greatly on the socioeconomic, cultural, and academic circumstances of those students (Ford & Sassi, 2014). Identifying and learning from successful warm demanders in a given setting is therefore an appropriate means of helping peer teachers understand how they, too, can become warm demanders in the classroom. The knowledge generated by the student of warm demanders can inform the content of a PLC, provide insight to administrators, and offer a template to teachers who are struggling with how best to adopt classroom orientations that are likely to engage their students.
Statement of the Problem
At the research site, there has been a steady pattern of decline in the Average Yearly Progress (AYP) metric of math and reading for grade 11 students. While the reasons for the decline cannot be precisely known, there has been a wave of teacher retirements in the past few years, leaving the school with a high percentage of novice or inexperienced teachers. There has been an increase in the number of disciplinary incidents coinciding with the decline in AYP for grade 11. The school’s funding status under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation might be under risk if these trends are not understood and reversed.
The literature suggests that teachers with more experience tend to be better warm demanders (Bondy et al., 2013; Bonner, 2014; Ford & Sassi, 2014; Houchen, 2013; Ross et al., 2008; Xu et al., 2012). The wave of teacher resignations and reassignments at the target site left behind a teacher corps with less experience, which, according to the literature is less likely to be warm demanding in its collective orientation. There is therefore some preliminary evidence that warm demanding might be a factor in the target site’s documented AYP declines. One aspect of the local problem is that the behavioral details of successful warm demanding are not well-known, because there is no PLC or other formal means of disseminating the knowledge and orientations of more experienced teachers to less experienced teachers. Gathering details of successful teachers’ warm demanding behaviors can address this aspect of the problem. The second aspect of the local problem is that less experienced teachers might lack self-efficacy as a basis from which to adopt warm demanding. Learning how successful teachers build and sustain efficacy around warm demanding is a manner of addressing this aspect of the problem.
Purpose of the Study
The purposes of this qualitative study is to (a) increase understanding of the phenomenon of warm demanding as enacted by successful and experienced teachers at the research site and (b) describe ways in which a PLC and other means could be used to assist less-experienced teachers in both understanding and implementing warm demanding in the classroom. This purpose will be achieved by gathering data from 8-12 teachers at the research site and is itself dependent on the assumptions specified above, namely that warm demand exists, is tied to success, and can be disseminated. The first purpose should be done first so that an effective way of disseminating can be created. The experience of the teachers that are good warm demanders will be analyzed by applying descriptive phenomenology. It will follow that a proper method of relaying the information be formulated so that the phenomenon will be effectively taught to inexperienced teachers.
The following research questions will guide the study:
Q1. How do successful teachers cultivate warmth in the classroom?
Q2. How do successful teachers cultivate demandingness in the classroom?
Q3. How do successful teachers cultivate a mixture of warmth and demanding in the classroom?
Q4. How does warm demanding influence positive academic outcomes for students?
Q5. How can the orientation of warm demanding be conveyed to other teachers?
Q6. How do successful warm demanders build self-efficacy for themselves?
Nature of the Study
The study is a case study that is based in descriptive phenomenology (Moustakas, 1994). According to Yin (2009), a case study focuses on a research phenomenon “in depth and within its real-life context” (Yin, 2009, p. 18), and case studies are held to be appropriate when “the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident” (p. 18). Because the nature of successful warm demanding is likely to vary based on students’ varying characteristics, the phenomenon of warm demanding is closely tied to its school setting, supporting the use of a case study. Case studies can be divided into single and multiple case studies (Yin, 2009). In a multiple study, there is more than one unit of analysis. In both single and multiple case studies, there can be embedded cases, meaning different cases of interest within the study. This study is a single case study; the unit of analysis is one school. There will also be only one
embedded case, that of the successful warm demander.
In Husserlian descriptive phenomenology, “the researcher aims at the discovery of the meaning of a particular phenomenon” (Englander, 2012, pp. 16-17). Englander went on to emphasize that, in this particular approach, “The phenomenon is the object of investigation, not the person, although obviously, a person is required to describe the phenomenon” (Englander, 2012, p. 25). In this study, the phenomenon of interest is warm demanding. This phenomenon will be described and evaluated through data analysis, guided by the three steps suggested by Moustakas (1994), of interview transcripts with successful warm demanders.
Significance of the Study
There is extensive literature on the phenomenon of warm demanding and of its relationship to students’ academic success. However, the nature and success of warm demanding are highly dependent on context. There is evidence that students from particular socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, and genders perceive and respond to both warmth and demanding in different ways. Thus, successful warm demanding will likely vary, in both content and context, from school to school. The local significance of this study lies in the application of descriptive phenomenology to (a) examine successful warm demanding in a specific, academically declining school’s context; and (b) apply the results to PLC programming in a manner that could allow all teachers to better understand and utilize warm demanding in their classrooms, thus perhaps reversing the recently observed trend of academic decline at the school. The academic significance of this study lies in the generation of new insights about the content of warm demanding. As some of the literature on warm demanding has become fairly dated, understanding this phenomenon in its current context might yield new insights to scholars and practitioners alike.
Definition of Key Terms
Cultural Responsiveness. In the domain of pedagogy, cultural responsiveness is defined as the set of ways in which a teacher can alter aspects of pedagogy, communication, classroom management, and other factors to better align with the cultural needs and expectations of students (Bonner & Adams, 2012).
Galatea Effect. The Galatea Effect is defined as the tendency of a student to achieve at a higher level when encouraged by a teacher and to achieve at a lower level when not encouraged by a teacher (McNatt & Judge, 2004; Rowe & O'Brien, 2002).
Self-Efficacy. Self-efficacy is defined as a belief in the ability to succeed in a particular behavior (Bandura, 1977, 1994, 1997, 2000; Bandura, Adams, & Beyer, 1977).
PLC. A professional learning community is defined as a group of teachers, sometimes including administrators and other non-teaching personnel, who meet regularly in order to share best practices (Tang & Lam, 2014).
Warm Demanding. Warm demanding is defined as a behavioral orientation in which teachers are able to convey both care and a desire for academic rigor and performance to their students (Bondy et al., 2013).
The problem identified in the school that is the research site for this study is a marked decline in the performance of grade 11 students in AYP measures of both mathematics and reading. This change has occurred after a wave of retirements that lowered the average experience level of teachers by over 5 years. There are many possible reasons for this problem. Based on a review of the academic literature, one likely explanation of relatively rapid decline in academic performance, in the absence of major demographic shifts in a particular school, has to do with a decline in the quality of teaching (Bonner, 2014; Xu et al., 2012). Warm demanding, given its well-documented (Bondy et al., 2013; Bonner, 2014; Ford & Sassi, 2014; Houchen, 2013; Ross et al., 2008; Xu et al., 2012) association with student achievement, is a plausible explanation for the observed decline in student performance at the target site.
The remainder of the study has been structured as follows. Chapter 2, the review of literature, contains a discussion and critical analysis of empirical studies on warm demanding, accompanied by a review of the literature on self-efficacy, which is one of the most plausible theoretical explanations of the success of warm demanding. Chapter 3, the methodology, contains a discussion and defense of the methodology utilized for the study. Chapter 4 includes the findings. Chapter 5, the conclusion, contains a discussion of the implication of the findings, recommendations for both school policy and future scholarship, and a summative conclusion.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
There is a large body of literature, both recent and seminal, on warm demanding (Bondy et al., 2013; Bonner, 2014; Deng, Lin, & Lo, 2012; Ford & Sassi, 2014; Houchen, 2013; Jackson, Sealey-Ruiz, & Watson, 2014; McNatt & Judge, 2004; Ross et al., 2008; Rowe & O'Brien, 2002; Salkovsky & Romi, 2015; Xu et al., 2012). There are also many ways of engaging this body of literature. One appropriate means of structuring a literature review on warm demanding is to proceed from (a) an overview of the theoretical basis for warm demanding to (b) a discussion and analysis of empirical studies on warm demanding, leading to (c) an identification of both the gaps in the literature and the ways in which empirical findings have affirmed underlying theories of student success.
There is a close connection between the discussion of theory and the discussion of empirical findings in the literature review. There is already a general consensus that warm demanding is a highly successful classroom orientation (Bondy et al., 2013; Bonner, 2014; Deng, Lin, & Lo, 2012; Ford & Sassi, 2014; Houchen, 2013; McNatt & Judge, 2004; Ross et al., 2008; Rowe & O'Brien, 2002; Xu et al., 2012). However, one of the most pressing open questions in the literature is how teachers can become warm demanders. In order to address this question, two other questions have to be answered:
What are the qualities and characteristics of the warm demander?
How can the qualities and characteristics of the warm demander be purposively adopted by a teacher?
Theoretical Basis of the Study
According to Henderikus (2010), a theory “is normally aimed at providing explanatory leverage on a problem, describing innovative features of a phenomenon or providing predictive utility” (Henderikus, 2010, p. 1498). Before identifying and discussing an appropriate theory through which to approach warm demanding, the problem should be better defined so. Doing so not only simplifies the process of determining whether the chosen theory is appropriate but also offers some insights into behavioral variables that warm demanding is intended to change.
Now that social scientists and other scholars (Borg, Mary, & Harriet, 2012; Bower, 2013; Cooley Fruehwirth, 2013; Griner & Stewart, 2013; Hartney & Flavin, 2014; Jeynes, 2014; Raleigh & Kao, 2013; Rios, 2012) have rejected the claim that there are population-level differences in intelligence (i.e., black-white, male-female, and other demographic differences), theories of academic achievement focus primarily on the variable of engagement. Although theories of academic performance acknowledge numerous inputs, ranging from the physical environment of the school to the vicarious experiences of the student, the denial of population-level intelligence differences essentially means that students are equally equipped to learn (Bobbitt-Zeher, 2004; Burchinal et al., 2011; Gregory, Skiba, & Noguera, 2010; Hemphill & Vanneman, 2011; Shevalier & McKenzie, 2012). Whether or not students exercise their faculties for learning depends on whether the student is engaged in learning, which in turn depends on a host of variables, such as the values that students place on school, the parental engagement from which they benefit, and, of course, the quality of teaching (Adkins-Coleman, 2010; Bobbitt-Zeher, 2004; Cejda & Hoover, 2010; Gibson, Wilson, Haight, Kayama, & Marshall, 2014; Mo, Singh, & Chang, 2013; Price & Tovar, 2014; Ross et al., 2008). Accordingly, the variables of student engagement, and teaching quality as a major contributing factor to student engagement, have become highly prominent in various theories of academic performance (Abrantes, Seabra, & Lages, 2007; Appel & Kronberger, 2012; Bower, 2013; Condron, Tope, Steidl, & Freeman, 2013; Friedman & Mandel, 2011; Kaniuka, 2012; Kinsler, 2013; Pintrich & De Groot, 1990; Scott & Dearing, 2012; Usher & Pajares, 2009).
Based on this theoretical background, and on the local school issue identified in Chapter 1, the problem can thus be more narrowly defined as low levels of student engagement emerging from some aspect of teaching quality. If the problem is defined in this way, then, following the recommendations made by Henderikus (2010), a theory that can address the problem ought to:
Explain how and why the problem exists
Describe some aspects of the problem that have not been considered in other contexts
Make predictions about what will happen to the problem under certain circumstances
Warm demanding is itself a theory, but (a) it does not address all of the elements of a theory that Henderikus recommended be addressed and (b) it can itself be explained by another theory. As argued in the remainder of this section, warm demanding theory can be reframed in terms of self-efficacy theory; moreover, taken on its own terms, warm demanding theory does not satisfy all the criteria for a useful theory as identified by Henderikus. Warm demanding theorists have posited a close relationship between warm demanding and student achievement, but they have not precisely identified how and why warm demanding and higher academic should coexist; indeed, many scholars (Bondy et al., 2013; Bonner, 2014; Ford & Sassi, 2014; Houchen, 2013) utilizing warm demanding theory have turned to other theories to supplement this deficit in warm demanding. Additionally, warm demand theorists (Houchen, 2013; Ross et al., 2008; Xu et al., 2012) make general predictions about improvements in academic performance likely to result from exposure to teachers who are warm demanders, but such predictions lack the precision that, according to Henderikus, a good theory ought to have. For these reasons, warm demanding theory ought to be considered an incomplete or sub-theory, and another, more foundational theory ought to be brought forward to explain the phenomena treated by warm demanding theory.
One possible theoretical explanation that is more comprehensive and basic than warm demanding comes from the construct of self-efficacy, which its founder, Albert Bandura, defined as follows:
Efficacy is a generative capability in which cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral subskills must be organized and effectively orchestrated to serve innumerable purposes. There is a marked difference between possessing subskills and being able to integrate them into appropriate courses of action and to execute them well under difficult circumstances. People often fail to perform optimally even though they know full well what to do and possess the requisite skills to do it. (Bandura, 1997, pp. 36-37).
Among contemporary scholars, there is no lingering doubt that students of all ethnicities, backgrounds, and characteristics are possessed of the same core set of skills, with rare deviations caused by developmental problems (Anderson, 2012; Borg et al., 2012; Cooley Fruehwirth, 2013; Gregory et al., 2010; Hall Mark, 2013; Hartney & Flavin, 2014; Hemphill & Vanneman, 2011; Houchen, 2013; Jeynes, 2014; O'Sullivan, 2013; Rios, 2012; Rojas-LeBouef & Slate, 2012; Torff, 2014). The problem, in other words, is not the mere capacity of students to perform, but the factors that determine whether—and in what circumstances—students will exercise this capacity.
Warm demanding has been hypothesized to be an enabler of the self-efficacy of students (Ford & Sassi, 2014; Houchen, 2013; Ross et al., 2008). Teachers’ warmth gives students a reason to believe that they can successfully apply their skills to achieve academic performance, and teachers’ demanding gives students a challenging, motivating target to aim for. A closer examination of self-efficacy theory can reveal several specific points of support for the practice of warm demanding. For example, one of the phenomena identified in warm demanding is the identification of an optimal zone of demanding (Bonner, 2014; Xu et al., 2012). Demanding too little of students has been observed to be as ineffective as demanding too much of them (Bonner, 2014; Xu et al., 2012). This aspect of warm demanding accords with an observation made by Albert Bandura in 1997:
At least moderate perceived efficacy may be required to generate and sustain interest in an activity, but increases in perceived efficacy above the threshold level do not produce further gains in interest. Indeed, supreme self-assurance may render activities unchallenging and, thus, uninteresting. (Bandura, 1997, p. 220).
Both the recent and seminal theoretical literature on interest indicates that interest is highest when students or other learners are presented with a task of at least moderate complexity (Carmichael, Callingham, Hay, & Watson, 2010; Duane, Carolyn, & Roger, 1995; Hackman & Porter, 1968). Some extraordinary people are able to sustain high levels of interest in a problem that might lie well beyond their capacity, but, ordinarily, people are most interested in problems that they have some chance of solving (Brown et al., 2014; Rabaglietti, Burk, & Giletta, 2012). Bandura (1997) predicted that, when self-efficacy was at moderate levels—so that, for example, a student had moderate belief in his or her ability to solve a mathematics problem—the respective likelihoods of (a) becoming engaged in a task and (b) successfully completing a task increased. Previous studies (Pintrich & De Groot, 1990; Shell, Colvin, & Bruning, 1995; Usher & Pajares, 2006, 2009) rooted in self-efficacy have found this so-called quadratic effect, in which both high and low levels of self-efficacy correspond with lower task completion and interest, and moderate levels of self-efficacy correspond with higher levels of task completion and interest. This theoretical prediction of self-efficacy is empirically validated by the observed phenomenon of higher levels of student interest in tasks of moderate perceived complexity (Bonner, 2014; Usher & Pajares, 2009).
Based on a review of the available literature, self-efficacy theory satisfies Henderikus’s (2010) criteria in a more complete and satisfying manner than war demanding; in fact, warm demanding can be conceptualized as a subset or as a special instance of self-efficacy at work. The relationship between the two theories, and the likely superiority of self-efficacy, is illustrated in the following points related to Henderikus’s discussion of the characteristics of good theories.
Explain how and why the problem exists. According to self-efficacy theory, the problem of student engagement exists because students do not believe enough in their abilities to engage in the behaviors that will make them better students, and teachers do not believe enough in their abilities to make them better teachers. Warm demanding theory does not have a simple and testable explanation of the problem of low student achievement.
Describe some aspects of the problem that have not been considered in other contexts. Warm demanding theory has examined the teacher-student relationship in fairly conventional ways, for example by appealing to teacher engagement (Achinstein & Ogawa, 2012; Ford & Sassi, 2014; Griner & Stewart, 2013; Ross et al., 2008). Self-efficacy place describes the student performance problem, which is itself an artifact of the student engagement problem, in terms of belief, which is a novel way of conceptualizing and solving the problem.
Make predictions about what will happen to the problem under certain circumstances. While warm demanding theorists make general claims (Ford & Sassi, 2014; Houchen, 2013; Ross et al., 2008) that students improve under warm demanders, self-efficacy theorists make more specific empirical claims (Pintrich & De Groot, 1990; Shell et al., 1995; Usher & Pajares, 2006, 2009) about the nature of the relationship between self-efficacy and engagement / performance improvement.
Self-efficacy is not the only possible theoretical approach through which to understand warm demanding itself and through which to approach the problems that are at the core of this study. Student achievement is a complex variable, and any one theory can only offer a limited perspective and, in Hdnerikus’s (2010) phrase, explanatory leverage on observed phenomena. However, given its close attention to student and teacher beliefs, and their importance in bringing about behaviors that are likely to result in performance improvement, self-efficacy is an appropriate theoretical basis for the study.
Review of Empirical Studies
As Bondy et al. (2013) argued, warm demanding is an enactment, which means that it is a behavior. Bondy et al.’s case study of two white teachers with predominantly black students in an urban American school emphasized that warm demanding is an enactment, that is, a set of teacher behaviors. These behaviors need not necessarily correlate with specific cognitions and feelings; in other words, it is possible for a teacher to act as a warm demander without being either warm or demanding, an issue that was examined in Bondy et al.’s study.
Bondy et al.’s (2013) study design was rooted in descriptive phenomenology, which, as Englander (2012) noted, is focused on exploring the meaning of a phenomenon by investigating the experiences of subjects. Bondy et al. conducted one-on-one interviews with two teachers, each of whom understood warm demanding differently. Bondy et al. found the following orientations among the two participants:
Warm demanding as a general orientation that applies to all aspects of the teacher-student relationship
Warm demanding as a specific approach to classroom management
Bondy et al.’s findings related to the teachers’ interactions with students supported the applicability of self-efficacy as a foundational theory through which to understand warm demanding. Bondy et al. noted that both teachers, despite their otherwise differing attitudes to warm demanding, routinely encouraged students by telling them, in the words of one of the teachers, “I know you can do it” (Bondy et al., 2012, p. 437). The teachers also reported encouraging themselves with the beliefs that (a) they could be successful warm demanders and (b) their students could be more academically successful. Thus, self-efficacy appeared to play an important role in how warm demanding improved both the teachers’ and the students’ performance.
However, to Bondy et al. (2013), it was not self-efficacy but rather culturally relevant teaching that served as the basis for the observed success of warm demanding in the two settings they examined. Bondy et al. argued that the critical factor was the teachers’ ability to reach across the cultural divide between themselves and their primary black students in order to communicate care and articulate challenge. The body of scholarly research around culturally relevant theory focuses on the adoption of specific behaviors that are capable of bridging cultural gaps (Berryman et al., 2013; Bondy et al., 2007; Bonner & Adams, 2012; Ford & Sassi, 2014; Shevalier & McKenzie, 2012; Shuffelton, 2013; Theron, 2013). However, if teachers do not believe that they can succeed at culturally relevant teaching, then, according to the prediction of self-efficacy theory, they are in fact less likely to succeed, a prediction that has been empirically confirmed in at least one empirical study (Siwatu, 2007). Siwatu’s work, considered in conjunction with the general predictions of self-efficacy theory, suggests that the best way for teachers to become warm demanders is to believe that they can. For this belief to have efficacy, however, teachers need to form some more conception of what warm demanding is.
Bondy et al. (2013) proposed the following components of warm demanding:
Conveying personal interest in students
Understanding how students perceive care (for example, in varying cultural contexts) and ensuring that demonstrated care is communicable and meaningful to the student
Working hard to remain committed to the welfare of students
Ensure that ordinary actions (such as pedagogy, gestures, classroom management, etc.) are utilized at least as frequently as verbal affirmation in order to convey care
Being insistent in bringing students back from digressions to their assigned work
Putting academic work before ‘fun’ activities and breaks
Reminding students that they are capable of high achievement
Holding students accountable for high achievement
As Bondy et al noted, these behavioral orientations are not novel; they are deeply embedded in the materials, tools, and processes of American teacher education and training. The factor requiring further explanation is how teachers are able to enact these orientations. One possible answer, self-efficacy, was indirectly referenced in Bondy et al.’s work, but is a clearer factor in other empirical studies.
In self-efficacy theory, one of the main sources of self-efficacy is the ability to look back at a history of successful behaviors (Bandura, 1977, 1994, 1997; Brown et al., 2014; Fu, Richards, & Jones, 2009; Haga et al., 2012; McNatt & Judge, 2004; Rabaglietti et al., 2012; Shell et al., 1995; Siwatu, 2007; Yeo & Neal, 2006). When people reflect on their history of having achieved a task successful, they become more confident in their appraisals of being able to engage in those kinds of tasks in the future. Bondy et al. (2013) emphasized that warm demanding consists of many behaviors, some of which are likely to be more successful than others in terms of their ability to engage students. In Bondy et al.’s case study, one of the teachers was more apt to catastrophize her failures at warm demanding, which, in turn, led Bondy et al. to rank the other teacher higher in terms of success at warm demanding. The other teacher was more able to look back at her history of successes at warm demanding and to use these successes to drive her confidence for the future—an alignment between past evaluation, current behavior, and future expectation that happens to be typical of people with high self-efficacy (Kuo, Walker, Schroder, & Belland, 2014; Seo, 2008; Usher & Pajares, 2009; Yeo & Neal, 2006).
More direct evidence of the relationship between self-efficacy and successful warm demanding was provided in the quantitative study conducted by Salkovsky et al. (2015). Salkovsky et al. asked a sample of 294 teachers questioned determined to identify factors that kept them from exercising their preferred teaching style in the classroom. Salkovsky et al. discovered, first of all, that the majority of teachers in the study were highly desirous of enacting the warm demander orientation in their classrooms. Salkovsky et al. subsequently identified 27 specific inhibitors, more than half of which were related to beliefs. Salkovsky et al. employed the statistical technique of principal components analysis to identify the most explanatory power inhibitors, which were perceptions relating to stress, time, and energy. Salkovsky et al. further discovered that, for the teachers who listed these inhibitors, perception was more important than other objective metrics. Stress, workload, and time constraints were distributed equally across the sample, but, for some participants, these factors took on a greater inhibitory weight. In other words, some teachers were simply less self-efficacious than others in their beliefs about being able to marshal the time and emotional sources necessary to be a warm demander. The barrier between these teachers and the successful enactment of warm demanding was not a barrier of resources or training, but rather a barrier of belief.
Bonner and Adams (2012) adopted a grounded theory approach to discovering the factors that predicted success among teachers of mathematics working with minority children, particularly African-American children. Bonner and Adams’ findings were consistent with both a theory of cultural responsiveness in teaching and warm demander theory. The findings that were relevant for warm demanding were that the following four domains or categories needed to be addressed holistically in cases of teacher success:
Trust / relationships
Constant reflection / revision
These theoretical framework for approaching warm demanding is not inconsistent with the framework of Bondy et al. (2013), because Bondy et al. identified specific behaviors associated with successful warm demanding while Bonner and Adams discussed the four dimensions that apply to each of these behaviors.
For example, the Bondy et al. (2013) category of conveying personal interest in students can be understood through the Bonner and Adams variables as follows:
Communication: What kind of syntax does the teacher use in communicating personal interest? What kind of body language conveys personal care?
Knowledge: What kind of personal knowledge about the student is a teacher able to learn in order to convey a form of care specific to that student?
Trust / relationships: How does personal expression of care strengthen the trust between student and teacher?
Constant reflection / revision: How does the teacher think about his or her conveyance of personal care? How does he or she revise or improve behavior? What are signs of good and bad feedback from the behavior of conveying personal care?
Thus, Bonner and Adams’ (2012) four dimensions are a means of surveying and exploring the quality of individual teacher behaviors that are associated with warm demanding.
One of the most important questions in warm demander theory is the role of race. In their qualitative case study, Ford and Sassi (2014) called attention to the consensus in the literature (Borg et al., 2012; Durham, 2012; Ladson-Billings, 1999; Rios, 2012) that shared ethnicity between student and teacher appears to simplify the enactment of warm demanding. Ford and Sassi’s case study was useful in its identification of reasons why shared ethnicity seems to be such an important factor in warm demanding and provision of a means for teachers to overcome ethnic or racial differences when attempting to become warm demanders.
Ford and Sassi’s (2013) main finding was that shared ethnicity between teacher and student has two dimensions that support warm demanding. The first dimension is that of trust. The alliance between teacher and student tends to be stronger when students believe that teachers understand them in terms of their cultural context, and shared race often strengthens the perception of such understanding, both for teacher and student. Trust and sympathy between the student and the teacher are clearly precursors of the student’s receptivity to the care bestowed by a teacher. However, as Ford and Dassi discovered, trust and sympathy also insulate the student from the potentially alienating effect of hearing demands for performance and accountability from the teacher.
Ford and Sassi’s (2013) second main finding was that shared ethnicity between teacher and student can make warm demanding easier because the teacher and the student already share a cultural code in which both warmth and demanding are defined. In support of this finding, Ford and Sassi identified aspects of American-American culture in which both authority and care are clearly delineated. Ford and Sassi used this finding to argue that teachers who are not African-American can still use the principles of cultural responsiveness to model some of their behaviors after behaviors in the target culture and also interpret the behavior of students in light of the target culture’s code.
A study conducted by Jackson et al. (2014) provided qualitative support for Salkovsky et al.’s (2015) quantitative finding that self-efficacy predicts success at being a warm demander. Jackson et al. studied teachers who were successful in inner-city schools, and noted that what they shared were the following beliefs:
In self-efficacy, beliefs are precursors to successful behaviors. Jackson et al.’s study found that teachers of various ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and subject areas were all able to succeed in inner-city schools as long as they held to these three beliefs. These findings support the conclusion that self-efficacy is perhaps the main predictor of successful warm demanding.
Davis et al. (2011) conducted a qualitative case study on warm demanding between an African-American teacher and largely African-American kindergarten students in an inner-city school. One of the strengths of the study was the exploration of warm demanding from the student perspective, which is often excluded from warm demanding research. Davis et al. spoke to several kindergarten students in order to determine how they described teachers whom they liked. The children identified two dimensions of teacher excellence, which Davis identified as care / warmth and influence / demanding. Children’s unprompted identification of these two dimensions of teacher quality reinforces the conclusion that warm demanding is a highly successful teacher orientation.
Abrantes et al. (2007) conducted a qualitative study on teacher qualities that revealed four categories of teacher success. These qualities are presented in Table 1, which represents a synthesis and paraphrasing of Abrantes et al.’s findings:
Differences between Successful and Unsuccessful Educational Systems
Abrantes et al. argued that warm demanding, considered as an overall success factor for good teaching, belonged in the domain of teacher likeability / concern, but warm demanding can also be placed in the domains of organization, responsiveness, and general student-teacher interaction. Like the other scholars whose work was reviewed in this chapter, Abrantes et al. found that warmth and demand needed appropriate balancing to be pedagogically effective and also emphasized that the nature of the balance depends primarily on the characteristics of students.
Based on the empirical articles analyzed in this literature review, the list of behaviors associated with successful warm demanding can be easily conveyed. The true challenge lies not in the identification of what constitutes warm demanding, but rather in the identification of strategies that can allow teachers to adopt warm demanding within their own contexts. One of the points of consensus in the literature (Bondy et al., 2013; Bonner, 2014; Ford & Sassi, 2014; Houchen, 2013; Ross et al., 2008; Xu et al., 2012) is that teachers possess the capability of being warm demanders; the combination of education, pre-service training, and other factors in the standard process of preparing a teacher gives all teachers the tools they need to be warm demanders. If so, then what matters most in the adoption of warm demanding might not be fundamental skill-building but rather the identification of ways to enable teachers to exercise the skills they have, such as through the generation of self-efficacy.
One of the main points of interest in Bondy et al.’s (2013) article was that teachers with less than a year of experience, and asked to succeed in a cross-cultural setting, were in fact able to do so because they believed in their ability to be warm demanders. For these teachers, warm demanding was not a difficult orientation to understand, and it did not require them to devote time to the building of skills that they did not possess. Rather, to use the term Bandura (1997) employed in his discussion of self-efficacy theory, what the teachers in Bondy et al.’s study possessed was the ability to orchestrate their existing skills, an ability that was rooted in their belief. The same kind of findings were obtained by other scholars (Bonner, 2014; Bonner & Adams, 2012; Davis et al., 2011; Ford & Sassi, 2014) whose work was consulted in this literature review.
Understood from the theoretical perspective of self-efficacy theory, one of the key gaps in the literature is the lack of discussion of how teachers can build and sustain self-efficacy around various concepts and applications of the warm demanding orientation. The literature contains numerous details about the specific behaviors that comprise warm demanding, but there is comparatively less information on the topic of how teachers can come to believe in their ability to be warm demanders. Given the prominence of self-efficacy in the studies consulted in this literature review, this gap is an important one; teachers need to not only know more about the components of warm demanding but also about how to believe in their ability to enact these behaviors. With this literature gap in mind, Chapter 3 contains a description and defense of a descriptive phenomenological method for (a) identifying the warm demanding behaviors of successful, experienced teachers at the local research site; (b) identifying how such teachers are able to build and sustain self-efficacy around warm demanding; and (c) exploring how the knowledge achieved from (a) and (b) can be disseminated to other teachers, primarily through a professional learning community (PLC).
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