Original Research

Illegitimate tasks of primary school teachers at selected schools in the Western Cape: A reality for a developing country?

Zahn van Niekerk, Susanna Goosen, Samantha P. Adams
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 47 | a1824 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v47i0.1824 | © 2021 Zahn van Niekerk, Susanna Goosen, Samantha P. Adams | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 June 2020 | Published: 30 March 2021

About the author(s)

Zahn van Niekerk, Department of Industrial Psychology, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Susanna Goosen, Department of Industrial Psychology, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Samantha P. Adams, Department of Industrial Psychology, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: The quality of basic education in South Africa is in need of interventions to improve the general standard of education offered in many public schools. Teachers and their work experiences are important factors that impact this standard.

Research purpose: The aim of this study was to shed light on the factors that contribute to the experiences and outcomes of illegitimate tasks, as experienced by teachers, and the potential buffers to the negative effects of these tasks.

Motivation for the study: The motivation for this study was to inform human resource practices and interventions to enhance the work experiences of teachers.

Research approach/design and method: Exploratory qualitative research was conducted with 10 primary school teachers (n = 10) from a selected Western Cape education district. Responses to semi-structured individual interviews were transcribed verbatim, unedited and categorised into main themes through directed content analysis.

Main findings: Environmental and psychological factors that lead to the experience of unnecessary and unreasonable illegitimate tasks, the time-consuming nature and outcomes of these tasks, as well as mechanisms that can buffer the harmful effects of illegitimate tasks, were identified.

Practical/managerial implications: The identification of various contributing factors resulting in teachers’ experience of different types of illegitimate tasks and associated outcomes. Potential interventions and recommendations for future research are made.

Contribution/value-addition: Qualitative studies regarding teachers’ experience of illegitimate tasks in the South African context are lacking. This article sheds light on the contributing factors, unnecessary and unreasonable tasks experienced and outcomes, as well as mechanisms that buffer the effect of illegitimate tasks amongst primary school teachers.


Keywords

burnout; buffers to illegitimate tasks; contributing factors; employee engagement; illegitimate tasks; job demands-resources model; outcomes; primary school teachers; work experiences.

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