32 SES 05 A, Organizational Commitment of Teachers
Retaining teachers has been a concern of policymakers in many countries. Empirical evidence shows that a large proportion of teachers choose to leave the profession within the first five years of teaching (Ingersoll, 2003). This situation worry educational leaders, therefore they keep searching for ways to manage, motivate and retain teachers, especially those who are qualified and promising educators.
The organizational behavior literature has shown that teachers’ intentions to continue in their career are related to work and professional attitudes. Professional commitment is one of the important factors in this context. This branch of research is in conjunction with person-organization fit theory. Cross-sectional studies have shown that the degree of fit between employees and organizations is positively associated with professional commitment (Perry et al., 2016). Individuals who ﬁnd greater commonality between their personal beliefs and their profession are more likely to hold a high level of professional commitment. These employees tend to remain in their profession (Saatcioglu, 2020). Given the high proportion of attrition among teachers at the beginning stages of their career and the negative consequences of this decision for the school system, educational leaders have long strived to secure the professional commitment of teachers. The reasons why teachers remain committed to the teaching profession can be markedly different. In this study, we focus on two aspects - motivational factors and school engagement factors - aiming to explore the predictors of teachers' professional commitment. The study outcomes may help educational leaders nurture professionally focused teachers. We apply motivational theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000) and Kahn's work engagement approach (Kahn, 1990) to better understand the mechanisms that might enhance teachers' professional commitment.
Professional commitment is a psychological state that reflects attitudes towards a chosen career. It demonstrates a bond in which the beliefs and goals of the individual become increasingly integrated with the values and norms of the profession, involvement with the development and progress of the profession, and loyalty to the profession’s membership (Morrow & Wirth, 1989). It may be determined by a strong intrinsic motivation to engage in the profession itself (Lam, 2011).Professional commitment has received increasing, but still limited, attention in the teaching arena (for examle: Chesnut & Cullen, 2014; Klassen et al., 2013). These studies analyzed teacher commitment as a single holistic outcome, while identifying positive correlations between teachers' professional commitment and career satisfaction, teacher efficacy, principal’s leadership, participation in school decision making, professional development, collegial relations, as well as student behavior and retention.
Following Meyer and Allen's (Meyer & Allen, 1991) conceptual framework, teachers' professional commitment is reflected in two central dimensions: affective and normative. Affective professional commitment is driven by an emotional attachment to the profession, and includes feelings of pride, dedication and satisfaction. Normative professional commitment refers to the sense of obligation to remain in the profession due to all the efforts invested in the career development process. The present study investigated teachers' professional commitment while referring to its multi-dimensional structure, and its relationship with teachers' motivation (altruistic, intrinsic and extrinsic motivations) and school engagement (autonomy, sense of belonging and professional efficacy).
- What rating do teachers assign to their degree of professional commitment with respect to teacher characteristics, teacher motivations and school engagement?
- To what extent do teaching motivations and school engagement indicators (autonomy, sense of belonging and efficacy) predict teachers' professional commitment?
- How do teachers’ professional commitment predictors vary along the teaching career?
Context: Teaching in Israel is a highly female-dominated occupation. It is associated with a high level of job security, the option of part-time work and extensive vacations. Most teachers are employed by the State, and usually receive tenure after 3 years; afterward they are protected and cannot be easily dismissed. On the other hand, a teacher's' salary is rather low compared to the economy market in Israel and promotion channels are limited. Teaching credential requires an academic degree and a teaching certificate. It also comprises participation in an internship program during the first year. Teacher attrition is high in the beginning of the career, around 16%, in the first year of teaching and after five years it increases to an average of 30% (Arviv-Elyashiv & Zimmerman, 2015). Participants: Data was collected among Israeli K-12 teachers in both the Jewish and Arab sectors. Using snowball-sampling methods, teachers were recruited through online professional networks and forums as well as with the assistance of contact persons in various schools. We sent email invitations to approximately 2000 teachers. In total, 718 teachers completed the survey (35% response rate): 502 were women (69.9%); respondents’ average age was 39.63 years (SD=9.98), ranging from 22 to 66 years old. The distribution of the participants approximates that of teachers in the general population. The majority of the participants were employed in the Jewish education system (604 teachers, 84.1%), whereas 114 (15.9%) taught in the minority Arab sector. Moreover, 350 participants (48.8%) were primary school teachers, 314 participants (43.7%) were secondary school teachers, and the other 54 participants (7.5% - this group is slightly under-represented) were kindergarten teachers. The average number of years of experience among the participants was 13.01 years (range: 1-42 years, SD=9.26). Research questionnaire: An anonymous questionnaire was administered to the participants. The questionnaire consisted of five parts: motivation for choosing a teaching career, teacher autonomy, professional efficacy, sense of belonging, professional commitment and background information. The first four parts included items that were measured by a Likert scale ranging from 1= do not agree to 5 = agree completely. Analysis: The data was analyzed by descriptive statistics and ANOVA tests. A linear regression was estimated to examine the effect of the explanatory (motivations to become a teacher and school engagement variables) on teachers’ professional commitment (dependent variable).
The results indicate that teachers express a high level of professional commitment on both dimensions, affective and normative, and their commitment increases as their professional career progresses. The multivalent model shows that two main factors support this outcome: personal growth and a sense of belonging. Teachers' motivation to personally develop during their professional life and their feeling of belonging to the workplace have high potential to strengthen their emotional attachment to the teaching profession (affective commitment) and their confidence that they made the right professional choice (normative commitment). These factors function as a buffer that promotes commitment. Professionally efficacious teachers also reported higher levels of affective professional commitment. Nevertheless, the of altruistic motivation is associated with increased affective commitment, but only among experienced teachers. In contrast, unexpectedly, it negatively affects normative commitment and this negative coefficient relates only to novice teachers. As such, attention should be paid to this inconsistency throughout the teaching career. Empirical evidence has shown that altruistic motivations play a dominant role in the decision to enter the teaching profession (Fray & Gore, 2018). Nevertheless, when starting out in their career, beginning teachers experience challenging encounters which may lead to the development of feelings of "reality shock," disappointment or burnout (Feiman-Nemser, 2001) as well as doubts about their professional career choice (Ingersoll, 2003). For those who stay in the profession, their sense of educational mission does not vanish, but it evolves again along their career route and are manifested as feelings of attachment and dedication to the teaching profession, which, as found in this study, strengthen their affective professional commitment. The study suggests some theoretical and practical implications.
Arviv-Elyashiv, R., & Zimmerman, V. (2015). Which teachers are liable to drop up? Demographic and institutional characteristics of teaching dropouts. Dapim, 59, 175-206. Chesnut, S. R., & Cullen, T. A. (2014). Effects of self-efficacy, emotional intelligence, and perceptions of future work environment on preservice teacher commitment. Teacher Educator, 49(2), 116–132. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11(4), 227–268. Feiman-Nemser, S. (2001). Helping novices learn to teach: Lessons from an exemplary support teacher. Journal of Teacher Education, 52(1), 17-30. Fray, L., & Gore, J. (2018). Why people choose teaching: A scoping review of empirical studies, 2007–2016. Teaching and Teacher Education, 75, 153–163. Ingersoll, R. M. (2003). Is there really a teacher shortage. Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy, University of Washington, 15. Kahn, W. A. (1990). Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work. The Academy of Management Journal, 33(4), 692–724. Klassen, R. M., Yerdelen, S., & Durksen, T. L. (2013). Measuring teacher engagement: Development of the engaged teachers scale (ETS). Frontline Learning Research, 1(2), 33–52. Lam, A. (2011). What motivates academic scientists to engage in research commercialization: “Gold”, “ribbon” or “puzzle”? Research Policy, 40(10), 1354–1368. Meyer, J., & Allen, N. (1997). Commitment in the workplace: theory, research and application. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Morrow, P. C., & Wirth, R. E. (1989). Work commitment among salaried professionals. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 34(1), 40–56. Perry, S.J., Hunter, E.M., & Currall, S.C. (2016). Managing the innovators: Organizational and professional commitment among scientists and engineers. Research Policy, 45, 1247-1262. Saatcioglu, A. (2020). Teacher persistence as a function of teacher-job fit: Evidence from a large suburban district, 2010–2015. Teaching and Teacher Education, 94, 103-121
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