Why teaching? Motivations influencing beginning teachers' choice of profession and teaching practice

Hellsten, Laurie-Ann M.; Prytula, Michelle P.
October 2011
Research in Higher Education Journal;Oct2011, Vol. 13, p1
Academic Journal
This paper explores why beginning teachers in Saskatchewan chose to enter the profession and the importance of these motivations in their first year as teachers. More specifically, using survey and interview methodologies, the purpose of this study was to: (1) investigate the entry motivations of Saskatchewan beginning teachers; (2) determine if the entry motivations changed over time; and (3) to examine whether there were any differences in motivations due to demographic characteristics. Survey results of 279 beginning teachers suggested that the entry and teacher practice motivation items most frequently identified by the participants as important included “making a difference in people's lives", "working with children or youth", and the "opportunity to teach subjects that were of interest". Motivations did change over time and across demographic characteristics. The importance of “having my own classroom", "salary and benefits", and "professional quality of life" increased from entry motivation to first year teaching motivation. Entry and teacher motivations differed significantly by gender, age group, and program of study. Teacher motivations also differed by marital status. Thematic analysis of 12 interviews resulted in four themes. With the exception of "wanting to be a teacher", interview participants tended to highlight external motivating factors such as "teaching as an alternative option", the influence of "significant others as role model teachers", and teaching as a "good match for skills and interests". The implications of the quantitative and qualitative findings and the relationship of these findings to the extant literature are described further in the discussion.


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