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Teacher Enthusiasm: Reviewing and Redefining a Complex Construct

Abstract

The last review on teacher enthusiasm was 45 years ago, and teacher enthusiasm remains a compelling yet complex variable in the educational context. Since Rosenshine’s (School Review 78:499–514, 1970) review, the conceptualizations, definitions, methodology, and results have only become more scattered, and several related constructs have emerged that may or may not be synonymous with teacher enthusiasm. In this review, we delve into the past four decades of teacher enthusiasm research to provide a potential starting point for a new, consolidated direction in teacher enthusiasm research based on a proposed, holistic definition of enthusiasm which brings together research from the past and can fuel research for the future. We begin by reviewing definitions of teacher enthusiasm and related constructs and, thereafter, put forward a new and integrative definition of teacher enthusiasm that combines the two most prevalent conceptualizations of the construct, namely experienced enjoyment and expressive behavior. Bearing our proposed definition in mind, we go on to present numerous measures that assess teacher enthusiasm, detail research evidence related to its correlates, and finally derive several research implications that, when considered in future research, promise to advance the field.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Showing interest was associated negatively with the overall factor of teacher enthusiasm. The author does not provide any explanations about why that might be the case. However, this item was endorsed the most by students in the high-rated teacher performance group and the lowest by students in the low-rated group. A negative relation of showing interest with overall enthusiastic teaching is contra intuitive and in direct conflict with the findings of Feldman (2007) and Kunter et al. (2008).

  2. 2.

    At this point, it should be stressed that emotions and enthusiasm being part of teachers’ identity and the belief of upholding a positive emotion image seem to be grounded within Western Europe and North American Cultures. In fact, all the teacher enthusiasm literature taken as a basis for this review is set in western countries. For information on the question how emotions may be grounded within the respective cultures, we refer to the works of Zembylas (e.g., 2003).

  3. 3.

    Within that context, much published research is available on the famous Doctor Fox effect, that is, the effect that enthusiastic instructors (usually named expressiveness within that body of research) can “seduce” their students into favorable course evaluations although the course/lecture was devoid of any content. We will not address this body of research in detail within the present review, but refer to a recently published article on that topic (Peer and Babad 2014).

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Correspondence to Melanie M. Keller.

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Keller, M.M., Hoy, A.W., Goetz, T. et al. Teacher Enthusiasm: Reviewing and Redefining a Complex Construct. Educ Psychol Rev 28, 743–769 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-015-9354-y

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Keywords

  • Teacher enthusiasm
  • Enthusiastic teaching
  • Experienced enthusiasm
  • Displayed enthusiasm
  • Review