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Title: A Flow Paradox A study on interventions by school supervisors to enhance their supervised teachers’ flow
Authors: Bent, M
Keywords: autonomy
Issue Date: 20-Aug-2015
Publisher: Open Universiteit Nederland
Abstract: Abstract Bent (2015) A flow Paradox There are no studies known on flow interventions by supervisors of Dutch secondary schools on how to enhance the flow of their teachers. Yet, in the higher educational context, Steele and Fullagar (2009) claim that professors can enhance college students’ flow by (1) Provision of feedback and (2) support for autonomy. However, Steele and Fullagar (2009) do not distinguish between the three flow dimensions as e.g. (Bakker, 2005) does in the educational context in music schools. He describes three core aspects of flow: Absorption, enjoyment and intrinsic motivation. Furthermore, Steele and Fullagar (2009) do not include Bakker’s (2005) claim that flow is contagious, which means that flow of supervisors and teachers go together well. In addition, they do not differentiate between levels of feedback as Hattie and Timperley (2007) do: Task, process, self-regulation (action) and self (thinking) levels. Finally, they do not discrimate the degree of tentavity in feedback (Barunek & Rynes, 2010) and references to positive emotions (Bono and Ilies, 2006). This investigation concludes that from a teachers’ experience, the school supervisors’ flow interventions enhanced associating flow and its dimensions absorption and enjoyment, while these interventions maintained the relationship between flow and motivation from the period prior to the interventions. The interventions connected feedback and autonomy in the teachers’ experience, while they did not in the supervisors’ perceptions. These interventions did not link flow (or any of its dimensions) and the provision of feedback and support for autonomy from the teachers’ perspective. The interventions decreased the teachers’ support for autonomy experiences in the supervisors’ perceptions, while they did not from the teachers’ perspective. Next, enhancing teachers’ flow resulted in a decreased supervisors’ flow in their perceptions. Finally, the flow interventions were focussed on the provision of feedback. The provision of feedback before a task was conducted was more effective as were personal, limited positive emotional and tentative feedback styles. While feedback on task and process levels enhanced flow, feedback at a personal level and posing questions decreased it. This investigation implies that the claim by Steele and Fullagar (2009), that ‘flow is enhanced by the of feedback and by support for autonomy’ in the higher educational context of professors and college students, was transferred on the ‘provision of feedback’ to the secondary educational context of school supervisors and teachers, while it was not on ‘support for autonomy’. Furthermore, the findings of this thesis contradicted the claim by Bakker (2005) in the context of the educational domain in secondary education that flow is contageous, as the teachers’ flow enhancement resulted in decreased supervisors’ flow. However, this investigation only included a group of seven supervisors and one of their teachers, selected by these supervisors themselves. Thus, these implications should be seen as preliminary. Yet, as these implications seem to falsify the core of the current flow theory, further research is recommended. Finally, additional research should include the measurement of the supervisors’ perceptions of their teachers’ flow. A primary provisory practical implication is that school supervisors by enhancing their teachers’ flow, might focus, on the task level, on feedforward: performance information provided before a task is conducted. Furthermore, it appears that these supervisors might direct this feedforward primarily at the self-regulation level such as self-monitoring and self-reflecting of their teachers on their teaching, and on their conversations with pupils and their preparations for classes. In this way viable lessons might be established. In addition, supervisors are recommended to provide feedback in personal, tentative dialogues about the feelings of a person in relation to work. Most of all, these supervisors should be aware of the flow paradox: enhancing their teachers’ flow might decrease their own flow. However, small interventions and tentative approaches in the conversations and dialogues might prevent their flow decrease.
Appears in Collections:MSc Management Science

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