School of Education
Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)
psychological reactance, educational policies, policy implementation, Hong’s Psychological Reactance Scale
Education | Educational Psychology
Sproul, Kimberlee, "Understanding Psychological Reactance in K-5 Public School Educators: A Hermeneutical, Phenomenological Study" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4674.
The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to understand the lived experiences of K-5 educators who have been required to implement the continual transmission of policies and mandates created by policymakers and other stakeholders who are not required to implement such policies. The theory that guided this study is Brehm’s psychological reactance theory, as it relates to educators’ infringement of freedoms through educational policies. This study utilized 10 participants. Criteria for participation included educators with a minimum of three years of teaching experience who have encountered some degree of frustration and were chosen from the researcher’s personal contacts. The setting for this research was a school district in western Pennsylvania. Three forms of data were collected including a survey, individual interviews, and a focus group. The researcher sought to understand teacher perceptions of recent policies, the effects of policy implementation on teacher well-being, and the effect of policy implementation on psychological reactance. The researcher discovered three major themes that offer an understanding of K-5 educators’ experiences implementing policies and mandates created by policymakers and other stakeholders, who are not required to implement such policies. Themes include policy impracticality, professional disrespect, and educator compliance. Sub-themes were identified for each of the themes and emerged during data analysis. These sub-themes include excessive workload, autocratic leadership, and policy oversight. My interpretation of these findings revealed that educators may not be as frustrated with policies they are required to implement as much as they may be frustrated with the procedures necessary for implementation. The results of this study revealed educators have a desire for educational policies to be beneficial to students while being practical to educators. In addition, educators have a desire for their professional judgment and expertise to be utilized throughout policy creation and implementation.