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«Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Leicester by Niva Dolev School of Education University of Leicester 2012 ...»

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Thesis submitted for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

at the University of Leicester


Niva Dolev

School of Education

University of Leicester



Niva Dolev

Developing Emotional Intelligence Competencies in Teachers Through Group-based


Emotional Intelligence (EI) has been positively associated with success in the educational and corporate world, and has recently been linked with effective teaching.

However, while it has been shown to be a learnable skill, studies of EI development in teachers are relatively rare. The present study explores the impact of a two-year, group-based EI coaching programme upon EI competencies and personal and professional effectiveness in teachers, the processes and experiences induced by the programme, and the elements which contributed to its success.

The study was conducted in a single secondary school in Israel, and employed an interpretive, qualitative framework and a mixed-methods approach. In-depth, semi- structured interviews with twenty of the twenty-one training-programme participants were conducted at the end of the training and comprised the main research tool.

Additionally, data from pre-post training Bar-On EQ-i assessments served to prompt discussions during the interviews, validate interview findings, and further illuminate the EI development process.

The findings confirm links between EI and teachers’ effectiveness and indicate that EI competencies in teachers can be developed through group-based EI coaching. Stages in the EI development process and elements that supported it have been identified. It is suggested that dedicated EI development training programmes have the potential to improve personal and professional effectiveness in teachers and may lead to organisational, school-wide EI implementation. Accordingly, development of personal EI competencies in teachers within school-based CPD programmes should be favourably considered.

II Acknowledgements Throughout this long and challenging journey I was helped by many individuals who offered me their insights, support and encouragement and helped me achieve my goal.

Firstly, I would like to express my deep gratitude to my dedicated and inspiring supervisor, Dr. Chris Comber. Thank you for your understanding and for your guidance, for showing me how to focus and how to simplify (‘write 3 words instead of 10’), for your wise counsel, support and encouragement.

Sincere thanks also to Dr. Edna Gutman, for her help with the statistical analysis of my data;to Dr. Michal Shatkay, for her great assistance with linguistic editing; to Dr.

Shosh Leshem, for her support, knowledge and friendship; and to my dear friend Ella, for her continued care and encouragement throughout this long process. Special thanks to Ayalla Reuven-Lelong, a colleague, a friend and a source of inspiration.

I am deeply grateful to my parents who taught me the power of ambition, motivation and diligence and were always there for me. Special thanks to my children, Sahar, Tom and Tohar, and to my son-in-law, Ori. You gave me your love and support and helped me in so many ways. I could not ask for better children. And above all, my husband, Ori. You are my teacher and my guiding light. Thank you for motivating me to start on this journey, thank you for your unconditional optimism, support, encouragement and love every single day along the way. This thesis is yours.

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This thesis explores the impact of group-based Emotional Intelligence (EI) training on teachers and schools. Emotional intelligence, a relatively new concept which concerns the effective integration of emotions and cognition, has been argued to impact upon a variety of life aspects, including professional effectiveness. The present study had been prompted by perceived shortcomings in teacher-training programmes, in particular in the Israeli education system, in terms of EI development. While the study was conducted in Israel, findings and conclusions may well apply to other education systems.

1.1 General Background Israeli schools, like those in much of the Western world, emphasise academic achievements and learning skills, both of which are considered primary predictors of future success (e.g. Goleman, 1995; Elias et al, 1997; Rosman et al., 1997; Smith, 2004; Avidan et al., 2005; Tal, 2005; Nelson et al., 2006; Bar-On, 2007a; FernandezBerrocal and Ruiz, 2008). However, academic performance in Israeli schools has been constantly declining (e.g. Ben-Asuli and Shayek, 2003; Lior, 2008; Yogev, 2008), placing Israel at the bottom of the OECD list of academic achievements (National Task Force for the Advancement of Education in Israel, 2005).

At the same time, disciplinary and behavioural problems, truancy, risk behaviours and violence are on the rise (e.g. Benbenishti et al., 2003; Tal, 2005; Kfir and Ariav, 2008;

Trabelsi-Hadad, 2008), in spite of prevention programmes designed to counter them (Ben-Asuli and Shayek, 2003; Amir, 2006). Thus, notwithstanding impressive

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there is now a growing sense of an educational crisis (e.g. National Task Force for the Advancement of Education in Israel, 2005; Ariav, 2008; Kfir and Ariav, 2008).

A 2008 State Ombudsman Report argued that Israeli schools had failed to deal with these various problems. Although most Israeli schools claim to employ a ‘whole child’ approach, programmes aimed at enhancing social skills, life skills and general values typically comprise only a small part of school curricula. Parents and students (a term used throughout this thesis to describe school children of all ages) testify that schools fail to prepare children for adult life (Amir, 2006; Shavit and Blank, 2011).

Furthermore, even as Israeli schools struggle to deal with a complex social reality, including ethnic and religious tensions, growing social and economic gaps, the presence of large minority groups, a high immigration rate and a search for communal identity (National Task Force for the Advancement of Education in Israel, 2005), teachers are often targeted for criticism and often bear the brunt for many of Israeli society ills (Ariav, 2008; Kfir and Ariav, 2008; Wilf and Wilf, 2008; Apeloig and Shalev-Vigiset, 2010). Teachers, for their part, face a continuous erosion of their status, and often feel disrespected, unsupported (Ariav, 2008; Wilf and Wilf, 2008) and frustrated (Apeloig and Shalev-Vigiset, 2010). Concurrently, Israeli students often report experiencing some form of violence during their years at school (e.g.

Benbenishti et al., 2003; Ombudsman report, 2008; Gotlieb, 2009), and the number of students reporting verbal abuse from teachers is also on the rise (Benbenishti et al., 2006; Shir, 2010).

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teachers are not trained to effectively deal with the many challenges that face them in the modern classroom. Indeed, in one survey among 600 Israeli teachers, two thirds of the respondents noted that they are not well equipped to deal effectively with such problems (Smith and Pniel, 2003).

At the end of 2003, the Israeli government appointed a national task force to thoroughly examine the Israeli education system and to recommend ways to improve it. The resulting National Plan for Education (Task Force for the Advancement of Education in Israel, 2005), also known as the Dovrat report, noted a decrease in status, salaries and quality of teaching among Israeli teachers. Proposals to improve the quality of teaching among Israeli teachers included raising the entry level for teachingcertificate programmes (a measure which is based on academic achievements) and demanding that teachers participate in advanced continual professional development programmes (CPD) which would focus on both academic and pedagogic subjects.

The above proposals touch upon questions that are central to the Israeli education system, as well as to education systems world wide: What elements contribute to teacher effectiveness, how can teacher effectiveness be enhanced, and what professional development is required for teachers to overcome the above-noted challenges and to perform effectively. Indeed, Stein and Book (2000: p. 245) reported that one of the questions most frequently posed to the Multi-Health Systems cooperation research staff (publishers of psychological assessments, including EI tests) is ‘What makes a great teacher?’

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During the last two decades a considerable body of research has indicated that beyond abilities and backgrounds, students’ achievements are highly dependent on the schools in which they study (Sammons, 1999). In particular, teachers have been noted to significantly impact upon students’ school success (e.g. Darling-Hammond, 2000;

Leithwood et al., 2004; Muijs, 2006; Beller, 2009) and variation in quality of teachers was found to be the main contributor to variation in students’ academic achievements (e.g. Muijs and Reynolds, 2002; The McKinsey Report, 2007). Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that students who had been assigned to one ineffective teacher after another had achieved significantly less than those who had been assigned to a sequence of effective teachers, suggesting that teachers’ impact is cumulative (Anderson, 2004).

The question of what makes a teacher more or less effective has occupied educational researchers for several decades (Muijs and Reynold, 2002), and was perceived as crucial for understanding and improving education (Muijs, 2006). While credentials and formal academic records are often used to predict teacher effectiveness (DarlingHammond, 2000; Darling-Hammond et al., 2001; Beller, 2009), Day et al. (2007) drew a distinction between quality and qualifications in teachers. Furthermore, there is now a wide agreement among educators, administrators, policy makers and researchers that teachers’ personal characteristics are inexorably linked with the effectiveness of both teachers and schools (e.g. Anderson, 2004; Guterman and Jacob, 2004; Timperly, 2008; Avdor, 2009). Thus, teaching is increasingly being viewed as a broad, complex, dynamic and interactive work (Sammons, 1999). Recent studies have acknowledged the many roles that teachers play, examined effectiveness across these various roles

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can positively or negatively impact upon teacher effectiveness (Day et al., 2007). In particular, such studies have looked into teachers’ knowledge (general and pedagogical) and behaviours, personalities, beliefs and attitudes, self-efficacy and motivation, and have examined their impact upon teacher effectiveness (Muijs and Reynolds, 2002).

1.1.2 Common characteristics of effective teaching Given the complexity and multi-dimensional nature of teaching (e.g. Stronge et al., 2004), no one definition of effective teaching has been universally accepted (Ornstein, 1990b; Kyriacou, 1998; Archer, 2004; Geo et al., 2008; Lunenburg and Ornstein, 2008). Instead, several complex sets of characteristics and interrelated variables, all closely related to effective teaching, have been noted (e.g. Calabria, 1960; Day et al., 2007; Rubio, 2009), and some of these characteristics have become widely agreed upon (e.g. Haskett, 2003; Anderson, 2004).

Lunenburg and Ornstein (2008) suggested that teachers’ questions of and responses to students, their attitudes towards students, their classroom management techniques, their teaching methods and their general expectations and teaching behaviours (sometimes referred to as classroom climate), are all related to their effectiveness.

Similarly, while knowledge of content and pedagogic knowledge, class management and instruction skills are among as the most common characteristics associated with effective teaching, other frequently noted elements include reflection and communication skills; commitment, care and motivation; the ability to create positive and nurturing learning environments and positive student-teacher relationships; the

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in students; and the ability to promote enthusiasm in students and engage them in learning (Kyriacou, 1998; Sammons, 1999; Muijs and Reynold, 2002; Stronge et al., 2004; Boyle et al., 2005; Robitaille, 2007; Stronge, 2007; Pisga, 2008; Rubio, 2009).

Stronge et al. (2004) suggested that such qualities are characteristic of the ‘teacher as a person’ (p.29).

Archer (2004) noted the importance of the abilities to promote self-efficacy in learners, to become role models, to strive for self improvement and to collaborate.

Indeed, Walker (2001) noted that modelling is the most powerful learning tool for students. Finally, based on a large-scale study conducted in the UK by Hay McBer (2000), Anderson (2004) suggested additional characteristics such as self confidence and initiative, and leadership skills including flexibility, accountability and passion for learning. Advocating a similar broad view of teachers’ effectiveness, Geo et al. (2008) noted that effective teachers should be viewed as contributing to positive academic, attitudinal and social outcomes.

Concern has often been voiced over the lack of data regarding the emotional and social characteristics that underlie teachers’ behaviours and effectiveness (Haskett, 2003).

For example, while many agree that effective teaching and learning are necessarily affective and are bound to involve human interactions (e.g. Birch and Ladd, 1997;

Hargreaves, 1998; Sutton and Wheatley, 2003), Lunenburg and Ornstein (2008: p.

467) argued that ‘social, personal and self-actualising factors relating to learning and life – in effect, the affective domain and the psychology of being human’ in teachers have not yet been adequately explored. In one of the few available studies, Day et al.

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