10 SES 02 C, Motivations and Considerations on Becoming a Teacher
There is a worldwide common understanding of the important role of teachers and their pivotal role in student achievement (Cochran-Smith et al., 2015). They have an important influence on students and support them in achieving their goals. Several studies have pointed out that it matters who chooses teaching as a profession and why (Richardson & Watt, 2016) and that it is important how (pre-service) teachers are prepared and supported (DeAngelis, Wall & Che, 2013). The question how to get the most talented students for the teaching profession is still unanswered. Several countries each hold support programs for (highly) talented (pre-service) teachers (Drahmann, 2017). But in comparison to other countries, Germany has a unique form of scholarship program for students: 13 Non-governmental foundations (e.g. German Academic Scholarship Foundation, Foundation of German Business, Konrad-Adenauer Foundation), which represent important stakeholders in Germany’s pluralistic society, support talented students (Drahmann, 2017). The common goal of the pluralistic scholarship system is to support young and talented academics based on the values and traditions of democratic society in Germany (FMER, 2009).
To select qualified students for the scholarship program, all 13 funding organizations are bound to the guidelines of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (FMER). These guidelines determine selection criteria according to professional performance, social commitment (voluntary social contributions to society) and personality, which can be extended into additional criteria based on the principles of each organization individually (FMER, 2009) (e.g., certainty about career choice). With respect to the selection criteria and the aim of the scholarship system, we analysed differences in occupational choice motivations between supported and unsupported pre-service teachers.
We focus particularly on the control of covariates, which are expected to confound the selection processes of the scholarship programs and investigate if there are differences in the motivations for choosing a teaching career between supported and unsupported pre-service teachers. Given the selection criteria (professional performance, social commitment, personality and motivation) and given one of the most important aims of the scholarship system (to support students so that they can responsibly shape society), we hypothesised that supported pre-service teachers are more intrinsically—and especially more altruistically—motivated (in terms of being oriented towards a social and just society).
Several studies emphasise numerous factors of learning and achievement regarding the process of (teacher) training at university and on the job (see Schuler, 2014). In this context, the personal requirements of pre-service teachers are important moderating variables in the theoretical model of the determinants and consequences of the professional competence of teachers, e.g. regarding the quality of using learning opportunities, the training of professional competencies and teacher behaviour in classroom (Kunter et al., 2013). Referring to personal requirements, a wide range of studies have indicated the importance of motivations in the context of the model (see Rothland 2014).
The various pre-service teacher motivation studies are based on different theoretical models. The most common and established model on motivations for choosing a teaching career in international research is the FactorsInfluencing Teaching Choice (FIT-Choice) model (Watt and Richardson 2007). The FIT-choice-model by Watt and Richardson (2007) considers various factors that influence the career choices of pre-service teachers. This is why the model allows, e.g. in contrast with the general congruence and professional choice theory of Holland (1997), a specific focus on the teaching profession. Therefore, the FIT-Choice model is based on five dimensions that influence the choice of teaching as a career.
We assessed motivations for choosing teaching as a career using the FIT-Choice inventory (Watt & Richardson 2007) and used a translated and slightly adapted version (König & Rothland 2012). From the original 11 factors, we chose a priori five that were theoretically best suited to answering the research question above because they were most similar to the official selection criteria: intrinsic value, shape future of children/adolescents, enhance social equity, make social contribution, fallback career. To investigate the construct validity, we conducted a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Therefore, we specified a model with five factors, and τ-congeneric measurement models. Fit-measurements indicate a very good adaption of the data to the model (χ² = 84.991, df = 34.000, CFI = 0.981, TLI = 0.969, RMSEA = 0.047, SRMR = 0.030). As covariates, we used the Socio-Economic Index of Occupational Status, which is based on the international standard classification of occupation (ISCO) in the 1988 version (International Labour Office 1990). Furthermore, we built an index about the experiences the teacher students had already had within the pedagogical field to measure the pedagogical experiences. Another covariate we assed was an index of civic engagement. This index was built by averaging 11 dichotomous questions for civic engagement in diverse areas (“Have you ever actively participated in any of the following organizations or groups [e.g., political (youth) organisation; church (youth) organisation; scouts?”]). Because our research question requires unconfounded descriptive differences between supported and non-supported teacher-candidates in terms of their motivations for choosing a teaching career, we faced the challenge of controlling for a bundle of potential confounders. Therefore, we used propensity scores as a (distance) measure of the similarity of the two covariate vectors. The propensity score can be interpreted as the probability of receiving the “treatment” conditioned under X, which was estimated in this study using logistic regression (Rosenbaum & Rubin 1983). In the next step, we applied one-to-one nearest-neighbour matching on the estimated propensity scores with replacement. Our data is based on a survey of a total of N = 703 pre-service teachers (n = 279 supported; n = 508 female; M(age) = 24.00; SD(age) = 3.52; M(semester) = 7.23; SD(semester) = 3.12) that was realized between May and August 2014. Participants were recruited from six different foundations and three universities in Germany. All participants completed the survey voluntarily and without pay, and the anonymity of the participants was ensured.
Our research question focuses on unconfounded differences in motivations for choosing a teaching career between supported and unsupported pre-service teachers. The results show that supported and unsupported pre-service teachers differ substantially and (with one exception) significantly in their motivations for choosing a teaching career, and these differences are to the disadvantage of the unsupported pre-service teachers. However, the most remarkable result to emerge from the data is that this difference is heavily confounded through the covariates controlled through the matching: With respect to the confounder and after a successful matching between supported and unsupported pre-service teachers, there are no differences between the two groups in terms of their motivations for choosing a teaching career. Given these findings, the hypothesis that supported pre-service teachers are more intrinsically—and especially more altruistically—motivated must be rejected. Based on the presented results, it can be assumed that both, supported and unsupported pre-service teachers with similar levels of (high) intrinsic motivation, are likely to achieve professional competence in teaching, enter the teaching profession after achieving their Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and remain in the teaching profession. In contrast, the results of another analysis (Drahmann 2017) demonstrate that those who are supported have greater doubts about their professional choice. The present study has methodological limitations that should be addressed in future research, most notably: the data belongs to 703 pre-service teachers, which indicates an acceptable sample for analysis; however, only six of the 13 foundations are represented. Never the less the results of this study mark the first explanatory empirical insights into pre-service teacher motivations within the differentiated scholarship system in Germany and underlines the necessity of taking a closer look at subgroups within the heterogeneous group of pre-service teachers, as Richardson and Watt (2016) emphasised.
Cochran-Smith, M., Villegas, A. M., Abrams, L., Chavez-Moreno, L., Mills, T., and Stern, R. 2015. “Critiquing Teacher Preparation Research: An Overview of the Field, Part II.” Journal of Teacher Education, 66(2): 109–121. DeAngelis, K. J., Wall, A. F., and Che, J. 2013. “The Impact of Preservice Preparation and Early Career Support on Novice Teachers’ Career Intentions and Decisions.” Journal of Teacher Education 64(4): 338-355. FMER (Federal Ministry of Education and Research) 2009. Mehr als ein Stipendium. Staatliche Begabtenförderung im Hochschulbereich [More than a Scholarship. Governmental Funded Gifted Education in Higher Education]. Bonn. Holland, J. L. 1997. Making vocational choices: A theory of vocational personalities and work environments (3rd ed.). Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources. International Labour Office 1990. ISCO-88. International Standard Classification of Occupations. Geneva. König, J. and Rothland, M. 2012. “Motivations for Choosing Teaching as a Career: Effects on General Pedagogical Knowledge During Initial Teacher Education.” Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education 40(3): 289–315. Kunter, M., T. Kleickmann, U. Klusmann, and D. Richter. 2013. “The Development of Teachers’ Professional Competence.” In Cognitive Activation in the Mathematics Classroom and Professional Competence of Teachers, edited by M. Kunter, J. Baumert, W. Blum, U. Klusmann, S. Krauss, and M. Neubrand, 63–77. New York: Springer. Richardson, P. W., and Watt, H. M. G. 2016. “Factors Influencing Teaching Choice: Why Do Future Teachers Choose the Career?” In International Handbook of Teacher Education, edited by J. Loughran, M. L. Hamilton, 275–304. Singapore: Springer Science+Business. Rosenbaum, P. R. & Rubin, D. B. (1983). The Central Role of the Propensity Score in Observational Studies for Causal Effects. Biometrika, 70(1): 41–55. Rothland, M. 2014. “Warum entscheiden sich Studierende für den Lehrerberuf? Berufswahlmotive und berufsbezogene Überzeugungen von Lehramtsstudierenden?” [“Why Do Students Choose Teaching as a Career Choice? Career Choice Motives and Beliefs of Future Teachers”]. In Handbuch der Forschung zum Lehrerberuf, edited by E. Terhart, H. Bennewitz, and M. Rothland, 349–385. Münster: Waxmann. Schuler, H. 2014. Psychologische Personalauswahl. Eignungsdiagnostik für Personalentscheidungen und Berufsberatung (4. ed.) [Psychological Staff Selection: Aptitude Diagnosis for Personnel Decisions and Professional Advice]. Göttingen: Hogrefe. Watt, H. M. G., and Richardson, P. W. 2013. “Teacher Motivation and Student Achievement Outcomes.” In International Guide to Student Achievement, edited by J. Hattie and E. A. Anderman, 271–273. New York: Routledge.
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