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Overview/Introduction

The expectancy theory of motivation is a theory explaining the behavioral options people choose (QuickMBA, 2010).  The theory argues that the propensity to act in a certain way, the motivational force, is unique to each individual.  The motivational force depends upon the strength and attractiveness of an expectation of a given outcome that the act will be bring forth (Roy, 2006).  Motivation to exert a high level of effort is an expression of an individual's belief that effort will lead to a good performance appraisal.  Good appraisals can lead to extrinsic (salary increase, benefits, bonuses) or intrinsic (personal satisfaction) rewards and such rewards will meet up to the individual's personal goals (Roy, 2006).  The motivational force is a product of 3 perceptions:  MF = Expectancy x Instrumentality x Valence (QuickMBA, 2010).  Each perception is factored to give the probability rate of a person's behavior . Expectancy and Instrumentality are given values ranging from 0 to 1 whereas Valence can range from -1 to 1. If any value of any perception is zero, then the product (MF) of the equation is zero and the individual will not feel motivated however when all 3 perceptions are met an individual will feel motivated.

Application of expectancy theory in a workplace environment is demonstrated in a case study reflecting a Washington, D.C. public school monetary reward program for "highly effective" educators. In 2010, interim District of Columbia Chancellor Kaya Henderson, under the direction of District of Columbia Chancellor Michelle Rhee, created an assessment program, called IMPACT, which recognizes, "the importance of ensuring that talented and committed individuals are serving all of our students" (DCPS, 2011). This controversial incentive program attempted to use elements of expectancy theory to assess and increase teacher effectiveness. Remarkably only 60% of eligible teachers accepted offered bonuses. This case study explores and illustrates how motivation, based on individual perceptions, is directly linked to the combined conditions of expectancy, instrumentality, and valance.   

Details of Case

"One of former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee's signature initiatives was to reward good teachers with bonuses of up to $25,000. To qualify for the full amount, teachers have to score high marks on their evaluations, teach at schools with majority low-income children, and teach a tested grade and certain subjects. Bonuses were offered to 636 teachers, but 40 percent turned down the money.

Eric Bethel, who taught at Marie Reed Elementary School, is one such DCPS superstar. He recently accepted a $20,000 bonus.  "It was very hard to turn down an opportunity to get a bonus check that was nearly half of my entire salary for a year," he says.  Bethel says he and his wife have been trying to save enough money to buy a house.  "She gave me a big hug, told me she was very proud of me, then immediately started looking up houses online," he says.

But these teachers had to agree to give up some job security. For example, they could lose their jobs because of program changes or enrollment declines at their schools.  Diane Terrell, a teacher at Stoddert Elementary School, refused her $5,000. She says a bonus shouldn't come with strings attached.  "You think you can come and wave money in front of us and we will give up everything to you. I could not do that," she says.

Two teachers were eligible for $25,000, the maximum amount. Both accepted the money" (Cardoza, 2011).

In 2007, Michelle Rhee was appointed as Public Schools Chancellor for a poor performing school system, "with 10,000 employees and a budget of nearly $1 billion" (Chu, 2008). During her tenure she implemented an incentive program for area teachers and district staff. The program, called IMPACT, rewarded highly effective teachers with annual monetary awards of up to $25,000. As described on the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) website the IMPACT Effectiveness Assessment System for school-based personnel strives to assist educators to (DCPS, 2011):

  • Understand what defines excellence in their work;
  • Receive constructive and data-based feedback about their performance;
  • Receive support to increase their effectiveness.

Teachers are rated on five key areas based on student scores from before they enter a teacher's classroom and after they spend a year with a teacher. The values used to measure achievement as outlined in the IMPACT Guidebook are:

  • Individual Value-Added Student Achievement Data (IVA) — This is a measure of the impact you have on your students’ learning over the course of the school year, as evidenced by the DC CAS. This component makes up 50% of your IMPACT score.
  • Teaching and Learning Framework (TLF) — This is a measure of your instructional expertise. This component makes up 35% of your IMPACT score.
  • Commitment to the School Community (CSC) — This is a measure of the extent to which you support and collaborate with your school community. This component makes up 10% of your IMPACT score.
  • School Value-Added Student Achievement Data (SVA) — This is a measure of the impact your school has on student learning over the course of the school year, as evidenced by the DC CAS. This component makes up 5% of your IMPACT score.
  • Core Professionalism (CP) — This is a measure of four basic professional requirements for all school-based personnel.

"To qualify for the full amount, teachers have to score high marks on their evaluations, teach at schools with majority low-income children, and teach a tested grade and certain subjects" (Cardoza, 2011).  Highly effective teachers who meet the score criteria would be eligible for a bonus, "but accepting the bonuses would contractually allow the school system to lay off the teachers if programs changed or enrollment declined at their schools" (Gartner, 2011). 40% of eligible teachers turned down the incentives. Below is a representation of IMPACT eligible educators and the breakdown of the participation rate.

DCPS Teacher Bonus

These bonuses are the first offered to DCPS teachers under the current evaluation system.

Bonus Amount

Eligible (#)

Accepted (#)

Accepted (% of eligible)

$25,000

2

2

100

$20,000

12

9

75

At or over $10,000

268

168

63

Less than $10,000

354

203

57

TOTAL:

636

382

60

In order to qualify for the greatest bonus amount ($25,000), teachers must fall under all the following categories: get an IMPACT rating of highly effective; must be a teacher at a school with a free and reduced-price lunch rate (a federal indicator of poverty) of 60 percent or greater($10,000 bonus); must be a teacher in a DC CAS testing grade (IMPACT group 1; additional$10,000 bonus); must teach in a "high-need" subject (additional $5,000 bonus). For the 2009-10and 2010-11 school years, the following subjects qualify as high-need: special education, English as a Second Language (ESL), bilingual education, secondary math, and secondary science.

One teacher at the Marie Reed Learning Center in the Adams Morgan neighborhood in the District of Columbia accepted a $20,000 bonus. Eric Bethel explained his acceptance of the bonus as, "It was very hard to turn down an opportunity to get a bonus check that was nearly half of my entire salary for a year," (Cardoza, 2011). He explained further that he and his wife were trying to buy a house and the bonus helped them realize their dream. In comparison, Diane Terrell, a teacher at Stoddert Elementary School, refused to accept the $5,000 bonus she achieved. She said that , "A bonus shouldn't come with strings attached.  You think you can come and wave money in front of us and we will give up everything to you. I could not do that" (Cardoza, 2011).

The disparity of these two teachers reflects differences in individual perceptions specific to how much an outcome, in this case a monetary reward, is valued.

Analysis

Motivational Force

Motivational force is a result of the product of a three part component:  Expectancy x Instrumentality x Valence.  However, the value given to each component is unique since it is based upon a person's personal perception. Each of the 636 teachers that were offered a bonus of up to $25,000 therefore had a different perception of the incentive program.

Expectancy

Expectancy, a component of the motivational force equation, is a belief about the future (Vroom, 1964, 1965).  Expectancy involves the relationship between effort and performance (E-P) (QuickMBA, 2010). In this case study, some teachers were confident they could perform successfully and maintain their job and accepted the bonus; "performance" involved teaching at schools with the majority of children in a lower socio-economic level, teach a certain grade, subject, and maintain high marks on their evaluations.  Expectancy can also be affected by situational constraints.  For the teachers who turned down the bonus, the situational constraint of the location of schools affected their expectancy.  Schools located within lower socio-economic areas may lack up-to-date technology, books and other learning tools that assist in the advancement of learning. 

Instrumentality

Instrumentality, another component of the expectancy theory equation is based upon a reward system in an organization.  If one meets the performance expectation, one will receive a certain outcome (P-O).  People are motivated to work when they believe that they can obtain desired expectations, or rewards (Furnham, 2005).  However, before receiving the reward, value is assigned to a reward as well as determining what steps are needed to achieve a reward.  Value and steps vary from person to person.  In the case study, the reward for the teachers was maintaining their employment if they accepted the bonus and changed jobs. It is important to note that the monetary bonus offered to the teachers was not the outcome/reward given after performance/teaching, it was only part of the reward condition. The condition that, "accepting the bonuses would contractually allow the school system to lay off the teachers if programs changed or enrollment declined at their schools" (Gartner, 2011) influenced how the each teacher perceived performance and outcome. In the case study, 40% of the teachers didn't accept the enticement (the bonus money) because they didn't perceive the linkage between performance and outcome -  they felt that their performance/teaching, although adequate or superior, was not linked to the outcome or reward of the possibility of losing their job if programs changed or enrollment declined at their schools. The teachers may have felt that no matter how well they performed/taught, it would not prevent the school from changing its programs or having an influence on school enrollment, decline or incline.  Therefore, the teachers were subject to dismissal based upon the school's stipulations, not how well the teachers' performed.

Valence

Valence is the perceived "value" placed on an expected and desired outcome (Redmond, 2010). There are individual differences in the level of value associated with any specific outcome and "is directly related to who they are and their needs, goals, and values" (Redmond, 2010).  Valence is a "subjective value...based on the individual's perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs"  (Redmond, 2010). For instance, a bonus may not increase motivation for an employee who is motivated by formal recognition or by increased status such as promotion.  In this case study, the value placed on the desired outcome varied amongst the teachers.  The employees who accepted the bonus placed a higher value on money as opposed to job security, whereas teachers who did not accept the bonus may have placed a higher value on job security as opposed to money.

References

Cardoza, K. (2011, January 26).  Of DCPS teachers offered bonuses, 40 percent say:  'No, thanks.'  American University Website.  Retrieved January 30, 2011 from http://wamu.org/news/11/01/26.php#40298

Chu, Jeff. (2008, September 1). Fixing Washington D.C.'s School System. Fast Company. Retrieved February 1, 2011 from http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/128/the-iron-chancellor.html

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). (2011). IMPACT - The DCPS Effectiveness Assessment System for School-Based Personnel. Retrieved fromhttp://mayor.dc.gov/DCPS/In+the+Classroom/Ensuring+Teacher+Success/IMPACT+%28Performance+Assessment%29

Furnham, A. (2005).  The psychology of behavior at work:  The individual in the organization.  New York:  Psychology Press.

Gartner, Lisa. (2011, January 26). Many D.C. Teachers Turn Down Bonuses. Washington Examiner. Retrieved from http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/dc/2011/01/many-dc-teachers-turn-down-bonuses

IMPACT Guidebook. (2011). Retrieved from http://odr.dc.gov/DCPS/Files/downloads/TEACHING%20&%20LEARNING/IMPACT/IMPACT%20Guidebooks%202010-2011/DCPS-IMPACT-Group1-Guidebook-August-2010.pdf

Management/Expectancy theory (2010).  In QuickMBA Website.  Retrieved from http://www.quickmba.com/mgmt/expectancy-theory/

Redmond, B. (2010).  Lesson 4: Expectancy Theory: Is there a link between my effort and what I want? The Pennsylvania State University Website. Retrieved from https://cms.psu.edu/section/content/default.asp?WCI=pgDisplay&WCU=CRSCNT&ENTRY_ID=EE76DACF5DA74D0C941151E6612A4698https://cms.psu.edu/section/content/default.asp?WCI=pgDisplay&WCU=CRSCNT&ENTRY_ID=EE76DACF5DA74D0C941151E6612A4698

Roy, S. (2006, April 26)  Expectancy theory [Web log post].  Retrieved from http://www.citeman.com/434-expectancy-theory/

Vroom, V. H. (1964). Work and motivation. New York: Wiley.

Vroom, V. H. (1995). Work and motivation (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley

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