Empirical Articles

Teachers’ Pedagogical Power – A Community School Study

Stanislava Stoyanova*a, Nikolay Ivantcheva

Abstract

Aim: The aim of our work was to study the types of power preferred by teachers and students of pedagogical specialties.

Method: Ivanov’s questionnaire “Teacher’s pedagogical power” was used to study the pedagogical power including Reward, Coercive, Legitimate, Expert and Referent powers. In 2012 and 2013, 46 secondary school teachers and 40 students of pedagogical specialties were part of a study in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria.

Results: The results indicated that teachers and students of pedagogical specialties preferred making use of syncretic power, more than one power. The most frequent types of power were Legitimate and Reward. The rarest was Referent power. The teachers used the different types of power less than students of pedagogical specialties did, confirming Adler’s view that humans striving for power over others was inversely proportional to the degree of education. Female teachers preferred to use Legitimate power more compared to male teachers.

Conclusions: The study of teachers’ pedagogical power could contribute to clarify teachers and students’ views of the teacher’s role in schoolar education. The studied teachers and students of pedagogical specialties perceived the teacher mainly as a regulating (rewarding or coercive) legitimate figure of pedagogical power.

Keywords: reward power, coercive power, legitimate power, expert power, referent power

Psychology, Community & Health, 2016, Vol. 5(1), doi:10.5964/pch.v5i1.149

Received: 2015-05-31. Accepted: 2016-01-04. Published (VoR): 2016-03-24.

Handling Editor: Sofia von Humboldt, William James Center for Research (WJCR), ISPA – Instituto Universitário, Lisbon, Portugal

*Corresponding author at: SWU “Neofit Rilski” 66, Ivan Mihailov Street, 2700 Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. E-mail: avka@abv.bg

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Introduction [TOP]

Community school research is typically conducted in small samples (e.g., Jenkins & Duffy, 2016), in order to reveal some aspects of local problems and trends, resolving them partially, at first, and later, the results and experience can be applied to a more global level.

The teacher’s image and status have been changing during the period of transition of political and social systems (since 1989 onwards) in the former socialist countries. Bulgarian teachers try to apply their pedagogical power under challenging conditions of increased demands, giving competitive knowledge and skills, expressing positive attitudes (Yordanov, 2015), promoting equal treatment and partnership in the educational process (Mutafova, 2015), achievement of material satisfaction, etc.

Power is used in the educational process and it is also the focus of education. Some authors (Hoko, 1989; Ivanov, 1999) use the term “teacher’s pedagogical power” referring to the power exerted by teachers in the educational process. Pedagogical power could be also referred to as academic power (Briggs, 1995).

The teacher’s power is generated and wielded within lived social spaces such as classrooms (Burke, 2011). The teacher’s power over students includes influences on their world view, knowledge, intelligence and normality; enforcing compulsory schooling; preparing for a job and future economic status (Delpit, 1988). Pedagogical power is concerned with developing students’ capacity to act autonomously (Pykett, 2009). Teaching power is based on authority and is expressed by communicating expectations and helping students (Sharp, 2009). Power shapes pedagogical interactions between teachers and students, and is tied to knowledge, authority and representation (Burke, 2011).

Power, seen as a capacity, is possessed by certain actors who may or may not choose to use it over others (Allen 2003; Faulconbridge & Hall, 2009). People who exercise power show initiative leadership (Halevy, Chou, & Galinsky, 2011).

The power strategies employed differ across social categories and occupations – managers, teachers, parents, children, etc. (Raven, 2008). Gender shapes striving for power (Adler, 1997b). Traditionally, masculinity is associated with power and privileges (Adler, 1997b). The traditional social system promises males authority, control, and power (Orr, 1993). There is the notion that in our society men are in power, and the people in power are almost all men (Kupers, 2015).

Even health status determines power. Disease gives power in some cultures because ill people are taken care of by the others (Adler, 1997a). In the educational process, people with some kind of disease also receive special care.

Types of Pedagogical Power [TOP]

Social power is the potential for social influence, the ability of the agent of power to change the beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors of a person using available resources. These resources are operationalized in six types of power: Informational (Raven, 2008), Reward, Coercion/Coercive, Legitimate, Expertise/Expert, and Referent (French & Raven, 1959; Raven, 2008). The social leader’s power could be legitimate (based on a law), referent (liked), expert (knowing, skilful), coercive (sanctioning), or reward (supporting) (Todorova, 1994).

Referent power has the broadest range (French & Raven, 1959). It is based on liking other people (Vancheva, 2003), on their attractiveness (Dzhonev, 1996b; Hock, 2006; Levin & Pavelčak, 2006; Mayers, 2001), significance and importance (Dzhonev, 1996а). The target of Referent power strives to resemble and imitate the agent of power. Referent power in the educational process means that the student admires his/her teacher and wishes to be like him/her, being satisfied with doing things the way the teacher believes they should be done (Raven, 2008).

Expert power is related to professional experience (Mancheva & Vancheva, 2005), it involves trust in the other’s knowledge and honesty, and there is a cognitive need to act appropriately in a situation (Aronson, 1996). Expert power results from the target’s faith that the agent of power has some knowledge and experience about what behavior is best under the circumstances. “Understanding the reason” for teacher’s recommendations is what distinguishes Informational power from Expert power (Raven, 2008).

Informational power consists of explaining to the student how the task should be done differently, with persuasive reasons why it would be a better and more effective procedure. Informational influence, then, results in cognitive and behavioural change and acceptance by the target (Raven, 2008).

Some authors use other terms concerning Informational power, and Expert power, such as the following:

Judicial power refers to an authoritative transfer of knowledge from one person to another within the school, depending on their potentialities and values (Deacon, 2006). Several terms are provided for the same type of power - Epistemological power in schools (Deacon, 2006), Epistemological power of rhetoric (Liddle, 2012), or Rhetorical power (Briggs, 1995) refers to extracting knowledge through teachers' personal understandings (Deacon, 2006) as well as through object-based learning. Objects have the power to inspire, inform, excite and educate, therefore, they can be used to acquire specific knowledge and skills, such as communication skills and teamwork (Chatterjee, 2010).

Striving to receive an award in the form of approval and acceptance by others is related to Reward power (Aronson, 1996; Levin & Pavelčak, 2006; Thomas & Alaphilippe, 1993; van den Bergh & Gowdy, 2009). Reward power results from offering a positive incentive - a good mark, special privileges, etc. (Raven, 2008).

Coercion or Coercive power means that teachers punishes or threats to punish students - their mind and/or their body - to comply with his/her interests (Botas, 2004). Coercion or oppressive pedagogical power is applied by the teacher over the students, regardless of the student's consent or best interests (Bizzell, 1991), that is, to the detriment of the student or the group of students (Cummins, 2009). The fear from punishment is related to Coercive power (Aronson, 1996; Levin & Pavelčak, 2006; Thomas & Alaphilippe, 1993; van den Bergh & Gowdy, 2009). By exerting Coercive power, the agent brings about change by threatening the target with negative, undesirable consequences - poor results, undesirable school assignments (Raven, 2008).

The power of punishment in schools has shifted away from the public physically violent mode, to the personal and psychologically compelling (Deacon, 2006).

The term “regulation” may refer to both Reward and Coercive powers, because regulation means “controlling by rule, subject to restrictions, invoking a rule, including sanction, reward, punishment” (Gore, 1995, p. 180). Reward and Coercive powers are effective when the behavior of the target is monitored by the agent of power (Raven, 2008).

Legitimate power is based on authority (Doms & Moskovici, 2006). Some authors (Allen, 2003; Briggs, 1995; Pykett, 2009) define this type of pedagogical power as Authority power. Legitimate power stems from social norms, namely, the target accepting the right of the agent to require him/her something (Raven, 2008). Students must do what the teacher requires without questioning how their best interests will be served (Bizzell, 1991), merely because it is their teacher.

Legitimate power could be divided into several sub-types. Legitimate power arises from a social norm that requires obeying people who are in a superior position, for example the teachers’ right to influence students. Legitimate power of reciprocity derives from the reciprocity norm - if someone benefits us, then we should feel obligated to reciprocate. Legitimate power of equity originates from a “compensatory norm” such as the teacher asking for more homework to be done by the students who have not learnt their lesson (Raven, 2008, p. 4). Legitimate power of responsibility or the “power of the powerless” is related to the obligation to help others who cannot help themselves, or who are dependent upon us (Raven, 2008, p. 4).

Expert, Legitimate and Referent powers are related to higher group effectiveness and clearly defined group goals (Ilieva, Dzhenkova, & Altimirska, 2000). Coercion results in decreased attraction to the agent of power and high resistance from the object of power. Reward power results in increased attraction to the agent of power and low resistance from the object of power. The more legitimate the coercion, the less the target will resist or feel less attraction (French & Raven, 1959).

The targets of power are most satisfied with Expert power, followed by Referent power, Legitimate power, and finally Reward power. Coercive is the less preferred form of power by the targets of power (Todorova, 1994).

The objectives of this study are the following:

  1. To examine the preferred types of pedagogical power used by teachers and students of pedagogical specialties in the region of Blagoevgrad using a questionnaire based on the concept by French and Raven (1959).

  2. To compare teachers and pedagogical specialty students concerning the types of powers preferred

  3. To analyse the types of powers preferred, according to gender.

Our first hypothesis is that teachers and students of pedagogical specialties will prefer to use more than one type of power, i.e. they will prefer to exercise syncretic power, but the most frequent would be Expert and Legitimate powers – based on their knowledge and position defined by the legislation. The less preferred would be Coercive power - because they all were former students and because of fear of their students, parents and society's feedback.

Our second hypothesis is that teachers and students of pedagogical specialties will differ in their preference of the types of power. More specifically, teachers will use different types of power less than students of pedagogical specialties. The reason for this hypothesis is the view that human striving for power over the others is inversely proportional to the degree of education (Adler, 1997b). The teachers have already graduated from their university education, while the students have not.

Finally, our third hypothesis is that there will be gender differences in the preference for the different types of power. This hypothesis is based on the view of power focused on the gender roles. Traditionally, the masculine qualities are related to striving for power. Masculinity is associated with power and privileges (Adler, 1997b).

Method [TOP]

Participants [TOP]

A total of 46 secondary school teachers from Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, participated in the current study. Secondary schools in Bulgaria educate the students from their first grade to grade 12. Seven of the teachers were men and the remaining were women. The teachers had different levels of work experience, ranging from newly appointed teachers to having several months to pension. The teachers also taught different subjects, namely foreign languages (French, Spanish, English, German) (N = 18), mathematics (N = 4), information technologies (N = 4), biology (N = 3), chemistry (N = 3), physics (N = 3), physical education and sport (N = 3), Bulgarian language and literature (N = 3), history and civilization (N = 2), fine arts (N = 2), and philosophy (N = 1).

Moreover, the study further included 40 students of pedagogical specialties from the same location. The students were randomly selected among the students of pedagogical specialties and they participated voluntarily in the study. Of the participants, thirty-three were women and seven were men. Their ages ranged from 21 to 30 years old. Their specialties were Bulgarian philology (N = 20), Balkan studies (N = 7), Slav philology (N = 6), other foreign languages (N = 4), mathematics (N = 2), and physical education (N = 1). They had several months of pedagogical work experience as a part of their education. They had practiced teaching in different schools in Blagoevgrad.

Sample’s description is summarized in Table 1.

Table 1

Participants’ Characterization

Category/ Sub-category N %
Occupation
Teachers 46 53.5%
Students of pedagogical specialties 40 46.5%
Gender
Men 14 16.3%
Women 72 83.7%
Age groups
21-30 years old 50 58.1%
31-60 years old 36 41.9%
Years of pedagogical experience
Less than 5 years 48 55.8%
5-10 years 8 9.3%
11-20 years 19 22.1%
More than 20 years 11 12.8%

Instrument [TOP]

The questionnaire “Teacher’s pedagogical power” (Ivanov, 1999) was used. It describes 20 aspects of the pedagogical power divided into Reward, Coercive, Legitimate, Expert and Referent power. This questionnaire is based on the concept developed by French and Raven (1959).

The response scale ranged from 0 (entirely disagree) to 4 (completely agree). A positive answer (3 – agree to a certain degree, 4 – completely agree) expressed preference for a specific type of power.

Procedure [TOP]

In November 2012, 46 secondary school teachers were studied in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. They worked at different schools in this city, which is the regional centre of the South-Western part of Bulgaria.

In April and May 2013, 40 students of pedagogical specialties were studied at South-West University “Neofit Rilski,” in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria.

All respondents participated voluntarily in the study. Informed consent was obtained from each respondent before they filled in the questionnaire including socio-demographic information.

This study is not representative of all Bulgarian teachers, but it indicates some preferences for using teachers’ pedagogical power in one of the regional centres of the country. Data from the National Statistical Institute revealed that there were 535 secondary school teachers in Blagoevgrad in 2012/2013 school year, and they were 534 in the school year 2013/2014 (National Statistical Institute of Republic of Bulgaria, 2014). The needed sample size for a representative community study for secondary school teachers in Blagoevgrad was 82 (confidence interval 10; confidence level 95%) that was computed by means of a sample size calculator (Creative Research Systems, 2012) based on the total number of teachers in Blagoevgrad. The total number of 86 appointed and trained teachers who participated in the study could be considered as enough and representative for a community study among Bulgarian teachers.

Statistical Analysis [TOP]

The data was analysed using the statistical software SPSS 16.0. Descriptive statistics, chi-square analysis (for comparisons between the teachers and the students item answers), t-test (for comparisons between the teachers and the students scales’ scores), Mann-Whitney Test (for gender comparisons), and Pearson correlation (relating age and scores on the different types of pedagogical power) were used.

Results [TOP]

Results Regarding Reward Power [TOP]

The author (Ivanov, 1999) did not indicate any reliability coefficients for each scale of the questionnaire. In this sample, Cronbach’ alphas were: .883 for Reward power; .811 for Expert power; .759 for Coercive power; .726 for Referent power; .702 for Legitimate power.

The preference for Reward power included the agreement with four statements from the questionnaire – see Table 2.

Table 2

Comparison of Teachers’ and Students’ Agreement With the Aspects of Reward Power

Statement Group Agreement
χ2(1) p
f %
The correct execution of tasks always must be stimulated Teachers 20 43.5 32.406 < .001
Students 40 100.0
Each pupil’s good deed must be rewarded in some way Teachers 11 23.9 32.005 < .001
Students 34 85.0
The most diligent pupils must receive the highest recognition Teachers 13 28.3 16.758 < .001
Students 29 72.5
The teacher must recompense the pupil if s/he has achieved some success in his/her work Teachers 6 13.0 44.529 < .001
Students 34 85.0

More students than teachers agreed with the aspects of Reward power – such as “The correct execution of tasks always must be stimulated”, “Each pupil’s good deed must be rewarded in some way”, “The most diligent pupils must receive the highest recognition”, and “The teacher must recompense the pupil if s/he has achieved some success in his/her work”.

In total, the students of pedagogical specialties preferred to use Reward power more often (would use it in 3 situations out of 4 – M = 3.4; SD = 0.8) than the secondary schools teachers, who would use it in 1 situation out of 4, M = 1.1; SD = 1.5 (t(72) = 9.126; p < .001).

Results Regarding Coercive Power [TOP]

The preference for Coercive power included the agreement with four statements from the questionnaire – see Table 3.

Table 3

Comparison of Teachers’ and Students’ Agreement With the Aspects of Coercive Power

Statement Group Agreement
χ2(1) p
f %
The teacher must keep a close watch on students’ strict observation of school rules Teachers 17 37.0 25.456 < .001
Students 36 90.0
The pupils must understand that punishment for every disturbance is inevitable Teachers 16 34.8 7.819 .005
Students 26 65.0
The teacher must coerce the student to obey Teachers 0 0.0 8.763 .003
Students 7 17.5
In some cases the teacher must force the pupil to do something Teachers 1 2.2 1.369 .242
Students 3 7.5

More students than teachers agreed with the aspects of Coercive power - such as “The teacher must keep a close watch on students’ strict observation of school rules”, “The pupils must understand that punishment for every disturbance is inevitable”, and “The teacher must coerce the student to obey”.

There was no significant difference between both groups of participants regarding the following aspect of Coercive power - “In some cases the teacher must force the pupil to do something”.

The students of pedagogical specialties preferred to use Coercive power (would use it in 2 situations out of 4 – M = 1.8; SD = 0.8) more often than the secondary schools teachers, who would use it in only 1 situation out of 4, M = 0.7; SD = 1 (t(83) = 5.589; p < .001).

Results Regarding Legitimate Power [TOP]

The preference for Legitimate power included the agreement with four statements from the questionnaire – see Table 4.

Table 4

Comparison of Teachers’ and Students’ Agreement With the Aspects of Legitimate power

Statement Group Agreement
χ2(1) p
f %
The teacher’s leading role is his/her right and duty Teachers 15 32.6 23.957 < .001
Students 34 85.0
The distance must always be kept in interactions with pupils Teachers 18 39.1 4.674 .031
Students 25 62.5
Pupils are obliged to execute the teacher’s orders Teachers 3 6.5 37.397 < .001
Students 28 70.0
When I require something from the pupils, I always point out that the reason is because I am a teacher Teachers 0 0.0 23.248 < .001
Students 16 41.0

More students than teachers agreed with the aspects of Legitimate power – such as “When I require something from the pupils, I always point out that the reason is because I am a teacher”, “Pupils are obliged to execute the teacher’s orders”, “The distance must always be kept in interactions with pupils”, and “The teacher’s leading role is his/her right and duty”.

The students of pedagogical specialties preferred to use Legitimate power more often (would use it in 3 situations out of 4 – M = 2.6; SD = 1) than the secondary schools teachers, who would use it in only 1 situation out of 4, M = 0.8; SD = 1.1 (t(83) = 8.221; p < .001).

Results Regarding Referent Power [TOP]

The preference for Referent power included the agreement with four statements from the questionnaire – see Table 5.

Table 5

Comparison of Teachers’ and Students’ Agreement With the Aspects of Referent Power

Statement Group Agreement
χ2(1) p
f %
The teacher must attract pupils Teachers 4 8.7 53.611 < .001
Students 35 87.5
I strive in my interactions with pupils to approach their world, to speak by means of their “language” Teachers 1 2.2 74.386 < .001
Students 38 95.0
During the execution of some task, I always rely on my favourite pupils Teachers 3 6.5 3.484 .062
Students 8 20.0
I strive for being imitated by my pupils Teachers 1 2.2 7.256 .007
Students 8 20.0

More students than teachers agreed with the aspects of Referent power – such as “I strive for being imitated by my pupils”, “I strive in my interactions with pupils to approach their world, to speak by means of their “language”, and “The teacher must attract pupils”.

There was no significant difference between both groups of participants regarding the following aspect of Referent power - “During the execution of some task, I always rely on my favourite pupils”.

The students of pedagogical specialties preferred to use Referent power more often (would use it in 2 situations of 4 – M = 2.2; SD = 0.7) than the secondary school teachers, who i–would use it in 0 situations out of 4, M = 0.2; SD = 0.7 (t(84) = 12.938; p < .001).

Results Regarding Expert Power [TOP]

The preference for Expert power included the agreement with four statements from the questionnaire – see Table 6.

Table 6

Comparison of Teachers’ and Students’ Agreement With the Aspects of Expert Power

Statement Group Agreement
χ2(1) p
f %
The teacher’s competence is the most appreciated by pupils Teachers 10 21.7 31.596 < .001
Students 33 82.5
Pupils are diligent only when they realize that their teacher is a good professionalist Teachers 8 17.4 33.711 < .001
Students 32 80.0
Pupils very often ask me Teachers 9 19.6 5.336 .021
Students 17 42.5
Pupils search for my advice in everyday situations Teachers 3 6.5 24.386 .001
Students 22 55.0

More students than teachers agreed with the aspects of Expert power – such as “Pupils are diligent only when they realize that their teacher is a good professionalist”, “Pupils very often ask me”, “Pupils search for my advice in everyday situations”, and “The teacher’s competence is the most appreciated by pupils”.

The students of pedagogical specialties preferred to use Expert power more often (would use it in 3 situations of 4 – M = 2.6; SD = 1) than the secondary schools teachers who –would use it in solely 1 situation out of 4, M = 0.7; SD = 1.3 (t(84) = 7.537; p < .001).

Results Concerning all Types of Power [TOP]

The students preferred to use the different types of power more often than the teachers did (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Differences between the teachers and the students preference for the use of different types of power.

The teachers relied more rarely on Referent and Expert power, while the students preferred to use all types of power in almost equal degree.

The results considering the total sample (both teachers and students of pedagogical specialties) are also available (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

Total number of the participants (both teachers and students) preferring different types of power.

Considering the total sample, the most preferred type of power by both the teachers and the students of pedagogical specialties was Reward power – 8.1% of the participants used it in one situation; 11.6% - in two situations; 14% - in three situations; and 36% - in four situations, as indicated by their agreement with one, two, three or all four statements describing this type of pedagogical power.

The second preferred power by both the teachers and the students of pedagogical specialties was Legitimate power – 9.3% of the participants used it in one situation; 26.7% - in two situations; 22.1% - in three situations; and 8.1% - in four situations, as indicated by their agreement with one, two, three or all four statements describing this type of pedagogical power.

The third preferred power by both the teachers and the students of pedagogical specialties was Coercive power – 19.8% of the participants used it in one situation; 36% - in two situations; 10.5% - in three situations; and no one - in four situations, as indicated by their agreement with one, two, three or all four statements describing this type of pedagogical power.

The forth preferred power by both the teachers and the students of pedagogical specialties was Expert power – 5.8% of the participants used it in one situation; 17.4% - in two situations; 19.8% - in three situations; and 14% - in four situations, as indicated by their agreement with one, two, three or all four statements describing this type of pedagogical power.

The last preferred power by both the teachers and the students of pedagogical specialties was Referent power – 3.5% of the participants used it in one situation; 32.6% - in two situations; 10.5% - in three situations; and 3.5% - in four situations, as indicated by their agreement with one, two, three or all four statements describing this type of pedagogical power.

Results Concerning the Gender Differences in Teachers’ Preference for Power [TOP]

A non-parametric criterion was used to compare gender preferences for the different types of power because of the small number of male teachers in our sample – see Table 7.

Table 7

Mann-Whitney Values for Gender Differences Between the Preferred Types of Power

Reward Coercive Legitimate Referent Expert
Mann-Whitney U 110.000 107.500 50.500 103.000 111.500
p .862 .781 .018 .676 .889

Women (Mean Rank = 22.47) preferred to use Legitimate power more often than men did (Mean Rank = 11.21). The women (about 70% of the women) preferred to keep more distance in their relationships with the pupils than the men (about 29% of the men) did (χ2(1) = 4.167; p = .041).

The advancement in age was related to less preference for Coercive power (r = -.371; p < .05).

Discussion [TOP]

The first hypothesis was partially supported. Both teachers and students of pedagogical specialties preferred to use more than one type of power that means they exercised syncretic and diverse power. This may be related to the fact that power is not monolithic and structured by one element. A possible explanation is that power is not tied to one single source, but is interconnected to multiple dynamics, including space, place, time, context, identity and inequality (Burke, 2011). Power is everywhere, diverse and specific (Pykett, 2009).

The use of more than one types of power could be related to acquiring more knowledge by the students, because the relation between power and knowledge is reciprocal - the more power, the more knowledge and vice versa (Botas, 2004). Knowledge is an instrument of power (Zolfagharkhani & Heshmatifar, 2012).

The most frequently used and preferred were Legitimate and Reward powers as the participants reported. The use of Reward power means that the teachers strived for giving pleasure to the pupils. The use of legitimate power means that teachers relied on their legal rights and authority. Authority is among the mechanisms through which teachers exercise power in education - teachers exert their power based on the status quo of their specialist knowledge or expertise. Teachers' authority appears unproblematic, and seems to be taken for granted (Botas, 2004).

The less referred type of power was Referent power. It seems difficult for the Bulgarian teacher to appear attractive for the pupils. In Bulgarian society, teachers are perceived as poor and underpaid professionals (Draganova, 2011; Popova, 2001), which is not attractive for the pupils, and this fact could explain the rare use of Referent power. The striving for avoiding favouritism and keeping distance from the pupils could contribute to this low degree of use of Referent power.

The lack of discipline in schools (Hristova, 2013) forces the teachers to use Coercive power, too. This type of power is preferred by younger and less experienced teachers and students.

The second hypothesis was supported. The teachers and the students of pedagogical specialties differed in their preference for the types of power. Specifically, teachers used the different types of power less than the students of pedagogical specialties did, confirming Adler’s (1997b) perspective, when he states that human striving for power over the others is inversely proportional to the degree of education. In this line of thought, it was expected that students would make use of more types of power than teachers would. The students of pedagogical specialties could strive for a greater use of pedagogical power as a way for achieving authority and applying the values of speed, efficiency, order, control, effort, merit, etc. in education (Deacon, 2006).

The third hypothesis was also supported. Gender differences were found in preference for the types of power. Female teachers preferred to use Legitimate power contrary to male teachers.The female participants needed to find more resources to apply power in the advantages given to them by the law. The male teachers imply respect and obedience related to the stereotypes of the distribution of social roles that link authority, dominance, leadership, and professional success with the male figure (Stoyanova, 2005). Female teachers relied on their legal rights in order to imply respect and authority.

The limitations of this study are related mainly to the need for a bigger sample with more male participation, as well as to the need for the study of a broader scope of pedagogical power.

There are several other types of pedagogical power that are not the focus of this paper that could be studied further. These various types of power used in education are political power (Giroux, 2004; Zolfagharkhani & Heshmatifar, 2012); physical, social, and lingual power (Zolfagharkhani & Heshmatifar, 2012); disciplinary power (Gore, 1995); discursive power (Briggs, 1995); institutional power; inventive power, through situations that inspire imagination and creativity; emotional power of humour; power of logic; objective mental power of ideology (Liddle, 2012); cultural power (Giroux, 2004; Liddle, 2012); economic power (Giroux, 2004); dominant power (Giroux, 2004); creative power; instructive power; conclusive power; learning power (Kohonen & Westhoff, 1999); commercial power (Giroux, 2004); corporate power (Pykett, 2009); manipulation/influence, domination (Allen, 2003; Botas, 2004; Pykett, 2009), seduction (Allen, 2003; Pykett, 2009), inducement (Allen, 2003); enclosure (Foucault, 1982), surveillance/supervision (Botas, 2004; Deacon, 2006; Foucault, 1982; Gore, 1995), normalization, exclusion, classification, distribution, individualization, totalization (Deacon, 2006; Gore, 1995), consent, resistance, compliance, bargaining/ negotiation (Botas, 2004), persuasion (Bizzell, 1991).

The students’ active roles in the modern educational process have developed further the classification of pedagogical power. Collaborative power is present when the teacher enables students to achieve more, to be heard and respected, and to express themselves (Cummins, 2009). Collaborative power expresses the idea of students’ activity and equality in the educational process (Pykett, 2009). Power relationships are reciprocal. In the pedagogical process, both educators and students possess power to express knowledge, relations and cultural expectations (Pykett, 2009). That is why another limitation of this study is presenting only the teachers’ viewpoint, not examining also their pupils’ views of pedagogical power.

As culture shapes pedagogical power (Pykett, 2009), further studies carrying out intercultural comparisons could examine if the trends found in this study are the same in other countries.

In spite of a certain continuity in the functioning of power relations in pedagogy (Gore, 1995), a longitudinal study could reveal if the teachers change their preferences for the use of pedagogical power with the increase of their teaching experience.

In sum, this study contributes to clarifying some aspects of the attractiveness of the teacher’s occupation, as well as teachers and students’ views of the teacher’s role in school education. Teachers and students who participated in this study perceived the teacher mainly as a regulating (rewarding or coercive) legitimate figure of pedagogical power. Students perceive teacher’s power as exerted through their pedagogical styles (Botas, 2004). The teacher is exerting power under the critical gaze of those over whom power is exercised (Deacon, 2006). Students' motivation, interest and engagement are likely to decrease when students perceive teachers' pedagogical styles as authoritarian and coercive. When students perceive teachers’ surveillance and authority positively, they feel that they are supported and that teachers are interested in them (Botas, 2004). Two opposite tendencies in development of students’ motivation and interests could be the result from the preference for Reward and Coercive power by the studied Bulgarian teachers and students of pedagogical specialties.

A powerful learning environment allows the teacher to be a professional guide and organiser of learning opportunities. The teacher needs to delegate some of his/her pedagogical power to learners, and to help them realise, justify and legitimise the idea of self-direction and ownership of learning, motivating them to assume increasing amounts of responsibility (Kohonen & Westhoff, 1999). Adittionally, information and communication technology, in contemporary culture, is an empowering tool and a source of pedagogical power (Knight, Knight, & Teghe, 2006) that may be used to increase students’ learning motivation.

Power is reshaping pedagogical relations and experiences, changing social, cultural, spatial, and micropolitical contexts (Burke, 2011), that is why its study is important. The study of pedagogical power reveals some trends in its development and some possibilities for improvement of its use for achieving educational goals, such as broadening of students’ interests by means of the use of Reward power.

Funding [TOP]

The authors have no funding to report.

Competing Interests [TOP]

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Acknowledgments [TOP]

The authors have no support to report.

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