Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Virginia Foley

Committee Members

John Boyd, Bill Flora, Jason Horne


This study used the capability approach as a lens to understand teacher quality from both the perspective of educational leaders and practicing teachers in a rural community in central Malawi. The overarching question of this research study was “How can the capability approach inform our understanding of teacher quality from both the perspective of educational leaders and practicing teachers?” The focus questions to guide this research were:

  1. What do national educational leaders value in a quality teacher?
  2. What do rural, Malawian, female teachers value in teaching?
  3. How do these teachers pursue and achieve what they value in teaching?

This study included qualitative data collection and analysis of two specific contexts: the official context of educational leadership and educational policy in Malawi and the teacher context of daily life working in a rural school in Malawi.

The official context was concerned with the larger field of educational policy that impacts education in rural Malawian communities. These data were collected through document review and semi-structured interviews with educational leaders at primary schools, secondary schools, school zone leaders, and teacher training college staff. Additional data about the official context were collected via review of documents regarding the official definition of quality teaching.

The research site for investigating the teacher context was a rural community in the central region of Malawi. Data were collected through interviews and observation of female, primary school teachers from four school sites within a single school zone.

The discussion and analysis of the data collected in both research contexts include the values of teacher participants, the ability of the teachers to achieve their valued functionings, common constraints experienced by teachers, as well as comparison of the valued functions of teachers to the valued teacher functions defined by official documents and educational leaders. The discussion and conclusions from this research include policy recommendations regarding teacher quality and thoughts on the further application of the capability approach to understanding teacher quality.

Document Type

Dissertation - embargo


Copyright by the authors.

Available for download on Sunday, December 31, 2023