First-Year Teaching Experiences: Are They Different for Traditionally Versus Alternatively Certified Teachers?

Fall, 2010

Source: Action in Teacher Education, 32 no3, 3-14. Fall 2010 .
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this study was to obtain information from a group of beginning teachers regarding how teachers who enter the field through alternative certification programs respond to the induction programs, in comparison to those who enter through more traditional programs.

The participants in this study were 83 beginning teachers working in 12 school systems in western North Carolina that collaboratively work with the Center for the Support of Beginning Teachers (CSBT). The participants come from a variety of teacher education programs, but the majority are graduates of the university. However, there were some indications that alternative-entry teachers have support needs that are different from beginning traditional-entry teachers.


The results indicate that there are more similarities than differences in the experiences reported by 1st-year alternative-and traditional-entry teachers.
Both groups reported spending similar amounts of time with school-based mentors and online mentoring programs. They both indicated overall positive reactions to the support services provided to them. They all reported similar experiences regarding the amount of support they received from their principals, and the amount of influence they had as a teacher.
Finally, there were no differences in the sense of efficacy reported by these teachers.

However, there were some indications that alternative-entry teachers have support needs that are different from beginning traditional-entry teachers. Alternative-entry teachers consistently reported higher levels of satisfaction in regard to the supports provided to them. This included the extent to which the supports enhanced their teaching practices and increased their likelihood of continuing in teaching as a profession. Alternative-entry teachers especially benefited from support in the area of assessing student work but also in some of the other areas, such as managing job stress, managing professional time, classroom discipline, and collaboration with other teachers. However, alternative-entry teachers reported less need for support in understanding their subject areas.

Although there were no differences in the amount of influence that alternative-entry teachers and traditional-entry teachers felt they had at their schools, the relationship between teacher influence and teachers' sense of efficacy was significant for alternative-entry teachers but not traditional-entry teachers. Teachers' sense of efficacy was also significantly higher for those teachers, both traditional and alternative entry, who reported that the support received had increased their likelihood of continuing in the field of teaching. It appears that providing alternative-entry beginning teachers with more influence and stronger beginning support services, especially in the areas of instructional skills, will help to increase their sense of efficacy and, therefore, their likelihood of continuing in the teaching profession.


These results indicate that teacher education certification programs and beginning teacher support programs need to take into consideration the unique needs of alternative-entry teachers because of their previous experiences and expectations. Both alternative and traditional teacher education programs need to work together with beginning teacher induction programs, with the common goal being to help retain more teachers in the field.

Updated: Jan. 12, 2012