The Need for Relatedness in Nepali Teachers: Investigation of a Western Theory in a South Asian Context
Sujen Man Maharjan1, Robert M. Klassen2, and Shishir Subba1
Tribhuvan University1, University of Alberta2
The purpose of our study was to test a culturally western theory in a South Asian, specifically Nepali, context. The collectivist character of Nepali society emphasizes compliance, group harmony, and avoidance of conflicts. Nepali students have been described as passive learners relying on the teacher to provide the material to be learnt displaying little capacity to think independently and critically (Regmi, 1987). The acquisition of knowledge is thought to be dependent upon the teacher who transfers or grants it to the students in social interactions that have affective and moral implications (Dahlin & Regmi, 2000). The social and cultural context in Nepali schools stands in stark contrast to most western schools (Dahlin & Regmi, 2000). Little is known if teacher and student motivation operates in fundamentally similar ways in Nepal in comparison to western settings, where teacher-student relatedness is a key element of teacher engagement and student motivation (Klassen, Perry, & Frenzel, in press).
We wondered if the basic psychological need for relatedness would explain teachers’ engagement and burnout in a Nepali context. Using a self-determination theory framework (SDT: Ryan & Deci, 2000), we explored the relationship between the satisfaction of Nepali teachers’ basic psychological need for relatedness with colleagues and students, and their self-reported levels of teaching-related engagement, emotions, and emotional exhaustion. In particular, we tested a two-component model of teachers’ need for relatedness, with representation of the need for relatedness with students and the need for relatedness with colleagues.
Participants were 190 practicing teachers recruited from 10 private schools in Kathmandu, Nepal, who were asked to fill out a brief questionnaire on teacher motivation. A single questionnaire was administered, which included measures of perception of autonomy support, satisfaction of relatedness to colleagues and to students, work engagement, and emotional exhaustion. Throughout the questionnaire, we used the same response format, a self-report Likert scale with anchors of 0 (Never) and 6 (Always). The questionnaires were administered in both English and Nepali versions. The majority of the teachers (70%) chose the English version of the questionnaire. There were no difference in levels and pattern of results according to language of questionnaire. Initial results show both cultural convergence and divergence from SDT, with teachers’ engagement more clearly influenced by the need for relatedness with students than with colleagues (p < .05). Implications for psychological theory and Nepali practice will be discussed.
Our research has been accepted for presentation at ISSBD 2012! Dr. Klassen will be presenting it on behalf of research team. The conference is happening from July 8-12, 2012 at Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
We would like to thank all the schools and teachers who participated in the study.