Academic journal article College Student Journal

Reasons for Choosing the Teaching Profession and Beliefs about Teaching: A Study with Elementary School Teacher Candidates

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Reasons for Choosing the Teaching Profession and Beliefs about Teaching: A Study with Elementary School Teacher Candidates

Article excerpt

The purpose of the present study was to examine elementary school teacher candidates' motivations for choosing the teaching profession, beliefs about teaching, and satisfaction with the choice. Data were collected from 176 freshman elementary school teacher candidates at two public universities in Turkey. Results showed that the decision to choose the teaching profession was most influenced by the social utility values that elementary school teacher candidates held; however, elementary school teacher candidates did not choose the teaching profession as a last-resort career. While significant differences were found between future female and male elementary school teachers' scores for most of the motivation factors to becoming teachers, no significant differences were found across socioeconomic backgrounds. Results were discussed on the basis of these findings.

Key words: Teaching profession, elementary teacher education, reasons for choosing the teaching profession

Introduction

Career choice is a very crucial decision for both individuals and the society in which they live, and has been the subject of many decades of studies (Bozdogan, Aydin, & Yildirim, 2007). As a part of career research, in recent years, there is an increase in studies focusing on teaching as a career preference. These studies have attempted to understand who chooses to become a school teacher and why (Konig & Rothland, 2012; Kyriacou & Coulthard, 2000; Kyriacou, Hultgren, & Stephens, 1999). This increase is the most noticeable in the countries experiencing a shortage of applicants to become teachers (Kyriacou et al., 1999). It has been reported that in many countries, although it differs from subject to subject, there is a decrease in the number of people choosing teaching as a profession, which has triggered researchers to explore the reasons for attritions and propose new, appealing methods to attract people to the profession (Eren & Tezel, 2010; Kilinc, Watt, & Richardson, 2012; Kyriacou, Kune, Stephens, & Hultgren, 2003; Richardson & Watt, 2006; Taylor, 2006; Watt et al., 2012; Watt & Richardson, 2008). However, unlike other countries, Turkey does not have a recruitment problem of teachers, much less a shortage, except for preschool, special education and English language teaching (Eren & Tezel, 2010; Kilinc et al., 2012). In situations with sufficient and insufficient supplies of teachers, the same question is important: Why do people choose teaching as a career? Needless to say, the key to the high quality of education is teachers since "teachers can and do make a difference by influencing the lives of children and adolescents and their orientation to learning" (Richardson & Watt, 2006, p.27). Teachers' impact on society is both short-term

and long-term as they prepare individuals for the future. By teaching the children for the present generation, teachers help prepare the next generation, per se, signifying that their impact is not transient but continuous. Best (1948) asserted that, "compared with teachers, such things as buildings, textbooks and administrative organization are secondary in importance," (p.201) given the fact that teachers, to some degree, have control over these

secondary factors as practitioners. However, "the teaching profession righteously claims and demands thoughtful and lengthy planning" (Krecic & Grmek, 2005, p.266).

Studies show that prospective teachers' reasons for becoming a school teacher and perceptions of teaching may have a variety of influences on them regardless of the subject that they would be teaching. For instance, it was reported that intrinsic motivation to become a teacher positively impacted performance

of prospective teachers (Konig & Rothland, 2012). Fokkens-Bruinsma and Canrinus (2012a) found that student teachers who were satisfied with their career choice had more affective professional commitment to the teaching profession. …

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