Both teacher quality and teacher shortages are among the crucial problems concerning the teaching profession and teacher education such members of the OECD as the USA, Turkey, New Zealand, and Australia (OECD, 2005). The underlying reasons why individuals become teachers, what motivates people from other careers to enter into the teaching profession, and how individuals perceive the profession have thus been attracting more and more interest from educational researchers (Richardson & Watt, 2006; Roness, 2011; Roness & Smith, 2010; Watt & Richardson, 2007; Williams & Forgasz, 2009).
When compared to the motivations for teaching, there has been little research on teachers' professional engagement and career development aspirations (Bruinsma & Jansen, 2010; Watt & Richardson, 2008). Given that, in many countries, alarming numbers of teachers leave the profession in the first three to five years after graduation from a teacher education program to seek careers other than teaching (Scheopner, 2010), it makes sense to focus on teachers' professional plans about teaching in order to shed light on the reasons behind this significant loss of teachers.
Specifically, such an attempt is important in teacher education for at least two crucial reasons:
* first, an examination of prospective teachers' interest in teaching together with their career choice satisfaction and professional plans about teaching may broaden our understanding of motivations for teaching by providing a picture of the way that prospective teachers' interest in teaching is linked to their satisfaction with teaching choice and professional plans
* second, teacher interest and satisfaction are crucial factors that significantly and positively affect student motivation, learning and achievement (Long & Woolfolk Hoy, 2006).
It is therefore important to examine how prospective teachers' interest in teaching, career choice satisfaction and professional plans are linked to each other in order to provide a basis for those attempts targeting to increase teacher quality, which is a crucial concern among member countries of the OECD. The present study has thus focused on the relationships among prospective teachers' interest in teaching, professional engagement and career development aspirations, and career choice satisfaction.
Teachers' interest in teaching
Teachers' interest in teaching has long been a focus of educational research, often labelled teacher enthusiasm (Brophy & Good, 1986; Mastin, 1963). Teacher enthusiasm is often conceptualised as an instructional strategy but more recent research has conceptualised teacher enthusiasm as a personal disposition varying among teachers (Kunter et al., 2008). Within this framework, enthusiasm represents a motivational characteristic of the teacher and is defined as 'the degree of enjoyment, excitement and pleasure that teachers typically experience in their professional activities' (Kunter et al., 2008, p. 470), suggesting that it is more appropriate to use 'teacher interest' instead of 'teacher enthusiasm' in a study that focuses on teaching-related motivational variables such as professional plans about teaching and satisfaction with teaching choice. Indeed, as a motivational characteristic, teacher interest is very close to the concept of individual interest, which provides a more robust theoretical basis than 'enthusiasm' (Hidi, 2006). Therefore, in the present study, 'teacher interest' is used instead of 'teacher enthusiasm'.
When the literature was reviewed in terms of the current topic, it was observed that, in contrast to student interest (Rotgans & Schmidt, 2011), few studies have investigated teachers' interest in teaching. Briefly, these studies showed that teacher interest was significantly and positively related to student motivation, learning and cognitive engagement (Ainley, 1998), their teaching-related efforts, quality of instructional behaviour, instructional practices and goal orientations for teaching (Retelsdorf, Butler, Streblow & Schiefele, 2010; Streblow, Schiefele, Retelsdorf & Bellaire, submitted for publication). …