Why Choose Teacher as Career

Topics: Teacher, School, Higher education Pages: 35 (10914 words) Published: October 1, 2012
Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education Vol. 34, No. 1, March 2006, pp. 27–56

Who Chooses Teaching and Why? Profiling Characteristics and Motivations Across Three Australian Universities Paul W. Richardsona and Helen M. G. Wattb{

Monash University, Australia; bUniversity of Michigan, USA { Ordering of names is alphabetical for equal first authors

In this large-scale Australian study, we profile the background characteristics and teaching motivations for individuals entering teacher education across three major established urban teacher provider universities in the Australian States of New South Wales and Victoria. Our recently developed and validated ‘‘FIT-Choice’’ (Factors Influencing Teaching Choice) Scale determines the strength of influence for a range of motivations from individuals choosing teaching as a career. Findings build upon and extend previous literature relating to reasons for teaching as a career choice, which have not systematically applied current motivational models to developing explanations. Participants were the entire cohorts (N51,653) of first-year pre-service teacher education candidates at three universities in Sydney and Melbourne. Results provide a profile of a large sample of pre-service teachers whose decision to enrol in a teacher education program has been made at a time when the mass media and the general public have increasingly looked upon teaching as a poor career choice. Our new theoretical approach allows us to recommend strategies for teacher recruitment campaigns, based on a comprehensive understanding of individuals’ motivations for choosing teaching.

Introduction It is often taken as self-evident that teachers can and do make a difference by influencing the lives of children and adolescents and their orientation to learning. Equally, it has been acknowledged by Governments around the world that quality teachers and teaching are central to the development and maintenance of an intelligent, informed citizenry. For example, Australian ministers of education Correspondence to: Paul W. Richardson, Faculty of Education, Monash University, Clayton Campus, Melbourne, VIC 3800, Australia. Email: paul.richardson@education.monash.edu.au; or Helen M. G. Watt, now also located at Monash University. Email: helen.watt@education.monash. edu.au ISSN 1359-866X (print)/ISSN 1469-2945 (online)/06/010027-30 ß 2006 Australian Teacher Education Association DOI: 10.1080/13598660500480290


P. W. Richardson and H. M. G. Watt

affirmed this sentiment in The Adelaide declaration on national goals for schooling in the twenty-first century (MCEETYA, 1999), by acknowledging the key role that teachers play in developing future Australian citizens, highlighting their contribution to social capital and the essential social infrastructure of the country: Australia’s future depends upon each citizen having the necessary knowledge, understanding, skills and values for a productive and rewarding life in an educated, just and open society. High quality schooling is central to achieving this vision (available online at http://www.mceetya.edu.au/nationalgoals/natgoals.htm).

Although teaching would therefore appear to be a socially valued occupation, Australia, the US, the UK and a number of European countries are currently experiencing difficulties in attracting and maintaining effective teachers (see Liu, Kardos, Kauffman, Preske, & Johnson, 2000; OECD, 2004; Preston, 2000). This is so in particular disciplinary areas in secondary schools such as mathematics, science, computer sciences, technology and foreign languages; and also in early childhood where salary scales are less than rewarding. Although there is a lack of reliable empirical evidence from the Australian states and territories, figures from the US and the UK show that one in five teachers will leave the profession within three years of entry (Henke, Chen, & Geis, 2000; Johnson & Birkeland, 2003; Ofsted, 2001). Of all the teachers...
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