Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 38, No. 1, February 2012, 3–19
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article focuses on identifying which motives for becoming a teacher have a beneficial effect and which ones have a detrimental effect.
The following research questions will be addressed here:
(1) What are the motives of university-based pre-service teachers for becoming a teacher?
(2) How are these motives related to effort, involvement and professional commitment to the teaching profession?
(3) Which motives predict early intentions of effort, involvement and professional commitment to the teaching profession?
(4) Are there differences between regular pre-service teachers and pre-service teachers on the Educational Minor programme?
A longitudinal study on the motivation for becoming a teacher began at the University of Groningen in 2009.
A cohort of 136 university-based pre-service teachers completed a questionnaire on their motivation for becoming a teacher, their expected involvement, expected effort and their commitment to the profession at the time of enquiry.
Of these pre-service teachers, 69% were regular pre-service teachers and 24% pre-service teachers on the Educational Minor programme.
The authors used the Factors Influencing Teaching Choice (FIT-Choice) theory as a basis.
This study focused on four research questions.
First, it investigated the motives of pre-service teachers for becoming a teacher.
The findings revealed that the perceptions of teaching ability, intrinsic career values and making a social contribution were the most important motives for choosing the teaching profession.
Choosing teaching as a fallback career or because of social influences were two motives that were found to be least important for the pre-service teachers in this study’s sample.
Second, the study investigated how the pre-service teachers’ motives were related to effort, involvement and affective commitment.
Its findings indicated that intrinsic career values, shaping children’s futures, work with children/adolescents, teaching abilities, fallback career and expert career were related to planned effort.
Furthermore, this study found that enhancing social equity and making a social contribution, both social utility values, were related to planned effort as well.
As regards involvement, the study found positive relationships between involvement and the motives of intrinsic career, shape future (only for pre-service teachers on the Educational Minor programme), job transfer, teaching ability, expert career, social status and fallback career.
As regards the relationship between motives and professional commitment, the study indicated that expertise, social status, teaching ability, and intrinsic career values were positively related to affective commitment.
Fallback career was negatively related to affective commitment.
The third research question investigated the motives which predict early intentions of effort, involvement and professional commitment to the teaching profession.
The analyses pointed that the following motives are considered adaptive:
expertise, social status, teaching abilities, intrinsic career values, job transferability
shaping future children/adolescents, enhancing social equity, making a social contribution
and working with children/adolescents.
The motives of social influences and fallback career are considered maladaptive. Furthermore, the analyses indicated some counter-intuitive results.
For example, social influences was positively related to continuance commitment and normative commitment.
A similar counter-intuitive result was found for the fallback career motive, which is negatively related to effort, involvement and affective commitment but positively related to continuance commitment and normative commitment.
These results might point in the direction of normative commitment not being beneficial to the profession.
The final research question examined differences between pre-service teachers enrolled on the regular teacher training programme and pre-service teachers enrolled on the Educational Minor programme.
The results indicated few significant differences between these two groups in the motivation for becoming a teacher.
It should be noted that pre-service teachers on the Educational Minor programme consider teaching as a fallback career more often than regular pre-service teachers do.
Fallback career is considered a maladaptive, and thus undesirable, motive for becoming a teacher.
These results carry several implications.
The study contributes to the theory on the motivation for becoming a teacher by identifying which motives are beneficial or detrimental to certain outcome measures.
Furthermore, the study uses a more elaborate operationalisation of the motivation for becoming a teacher when compared to previous studies.
Finally, it explores the relationship with other important variables in teacher retention, namely involvement and professional commitment.
Finally, the results suggest that, when trying to attract students to the profession and trying to retain them on the teacher-training programme, it is important to focus on motives such as social utility motives or perceived teaching abilities.