Investigating the effect of different types of ‘uncertainties’ on the attitudes and beliefs of teachers towards their work.

The aims and the context of this research

In this research I hope to study

  • the different kinds of uncertainty which teachers face in their practice;
  • whether there are certain types of uncertainty which are inherently negative or positive in their effect on teacher’s attitudes and beliefs towards their work; and
  • whether there are particular approaches to such uncertainties which have positive or negative effects on these attitudes and beliefs.

I would like to study a wide range of uncertainties, such as those:

  • relating to student attitudes, abilities and characteristics;
  • relating to the efficacy of teaching approaches, activities and resources;
  • relating to teachers’ own skills and experiences;
  • relating to professional status;
  • relating to organisational and school – level requirements or approaches; and
  • any other uncertainties that seem to be affecting teachers’ beliefs or attitudes, whether positively or negatively.

Whilst I hope to gain some idea of the effect of different type of uncertainties, and it may be possible to identify some kinds of uncertainty or approaches to them which might have positive or negative effects, the intention is not to provide ‘solutions’ to any particular problems. At the same time, I hope that by taking part, participants might gain insight into their own situations.

About me

I am a trained secondary history teacher, and have worked in a comprehensive school in the South East of England for most of my 10-year career as a teacher. I have also been a PGCE History Lecturer. I have a long standing interest in teacher education, and the kinds of beliefs and experiences which encourage or inhibit professional development. I have a current, transferable DBS certificate. I am doing this research as a thesis for an MSc in Educational Research Methods at the University of Leeds.

Participation in the Study

I would like to find teachers in primary or secondary schools who would be willing to take part in this study.

Data Collection

I would like to collect data by interviewing teachers before and after an observed lesson.

The focus of the first interview would be on the decision making process which has gone into planning the lesson, and how uncertainties have affected that planning.

The observation would be focused on the way that uncertainties work in the classroom. This observation focus would not be related to how well the lesson has gone, or how successful the teaching or learning has been.

The final interview would focus on the issue of how the uncertainties discussed in the first interview actually affected the lesson itself.


Transcripts of interviews will be available for participants, and I will make available any analysis of the interviews and observation well before the submission of the final thesis.   I would like to involve participants, to the extent that they wish, in the analysis of the data that I collect.

Thought I cannot promise to agree with any comment made by participant, where participants and I disagree about the analysis of any aspect of this study I will make sure that the participant’s point of view is respected and set out in the final thesis submitted.


If you agree to take part in the study you can decide to withdraw at any time, for any or no reason.

Participant’s anonymity will be protected by use of the following techniques:

  • Pseudonyms will be assigned to all participants, schools or other institutions, any students, or any other people mentioned during interviews or lessons and in any analysis.
  • Transcripts and data recordings of interviews will be stored electronically on password protected university servers. Filenames and notes will use pseudonyms.
  • Notebooks relating to lesson observations and notes on interviews will be constructed using pseudonyms; and
  • all data will be destroyed once the final thesis is accepted by the University.

I would like to emphasise that anyone agreeing to take part in this study may withdraw from taking part at any time. As this study focuses on uncertainty I will remind participants regularly that they do not have to discuss any topics that make them feel uncomfortable and that they do not have to give any reasons for deciding not to answer particular questions, or if they wish to withdraw from the study at any time.

How will the interviews be organised?

Interviews can take place face to face, over the telephone or by skype video conference if preferred. I will be using digital recording facilities to record and then to transcribe the interviews. I would imagine that each interview would be between 20-30 minutes in length.

Interested in being a participant?

Please email me if you would like any more information, or if you would like to discuss this research. If you agree I will then contact you to arrange a time to meet for interviews and your observation. 

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  1. Pingback: Research on Teachers' Uncertainties | One Damn ThingOne Damn Thing

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