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Factors that motivate people to go into school

2094 words (8 pages) Essay in Education

5/12/16 Education Reference this

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This paper identifies some the motivating factors of selecting teaching as a career. An emailed questionnaire was conducted to identify the key factors on individual’s choice whether to be a teacher or not. A total of 100 questionnaires were sent out to ask “Why did you choose teaching as a career choice?” Sixty-Three men and women that are either current elementary education majors or current elementary school teachers participated. The survey result concludes that the motivating factors included a variety of what individuals valued in a job and their perception of teaching. Surprisingly, factors such as financial incentives, vacation, and holidays off were not high on my survey results as being the reason they choose teaching as a career. This study proves that there are individuals that choose to go into elementary school teaching to inform, to guide, to enlighten, and to inspire students. My survey participants made comments in their responses that teaching has many rewards but the most valuable one is that they directly affect the lives of the student they teach.

From my own personal experience just because I have been taught by many teachers does not mean I know what it would take to be a teacher. The best thing for me was to learn more about the teaching profession, by asking a teacher I knew and admire about how he or she became a teacher and why.


The aim of this paper is for me to understand why so many chosen teaching as a profession when the appeal for teaching seems to decline year after year. My study involved undergraduates, postgraduates, and current elementary school teachers in the public and catholic school sector. To choice education as a career you must have some type of striving force behind it, such as motivation. So why do people choose teaching as a career? Teaching involves spending their day with other people’s children shaping their young minds for tomorrow. Shaping a young mind is a challenging task and has always been a challenging task throughout the years. And the truth of the matter is the challenge goes beyond just the student, but the challenge also lies with dealing with parents, the other faculty, and all the problems that go along with student problems at home; such as abuse.

Exploring how motivation plays a factor when choosing teaching as a career lead to three main areas from those who decided to make teaching a career. (1) Altruistic reason: a desire to help children succeed, (2) Intrinsic reason: having a special interest or expertise in a subject matter that you want to share or cover, and (3) Extrinsic reason: a person only is interested in the holidays off and summer vacations.


You must have motivation when choosing teaching in elementary schools as a career. Recto (2005) stated what motivates individuals to go into teaching is very crucial. Motivation is a vital force that drives one’s behavior toward initiating and carrying out the tasks that go along with being a teacher. People’s reason for joining the teaching profession can be explained through their motives to do so. Motivation and understanding the reasons why people enter the teaching profession and what makes them stay or leave is essential, particularly, if we want success in maintaining a stable teaching force that contributes to teacher education quality and excellence. (Soh, 2008).

Motivation is the process that gives one’s behavior and choice purpose and direction. With such direction, the attention of the individual is focused on a particular goal, which is persistently worked on until it is fulfilled. Real teaching and real learning both require great acts of motivation because teachers are constantly asking students to take big risks or to try a new way of thinking. I believe understanding and studying motivation for entering the profession of teaching is important in being able to predict the possible shortages in the teaching workforce.


An individual decision to go into teaching or not is believed to be influenced by what they value in a job. (Kyriacou and Newson, 2008). If we are able to identify those factors which individuals consider important in their choice of career, and highlight the factors in teaching which match these, then we might hope to persuade better qualified students to consider teaching. (Johnson and Birkeland, 2003). To help student make the choice of being a teacher should start in elementary school, high school, and in college; teachers should inspire their students so that the students want more than anything else to become a teacher. Teachers need to express to the students frequently that they love teaching. Teachers should also encourage students to become teachers themselves. Overall, teachers must encourage with example, and that example is showing that they love their jobs. Teachers should also encourage directly, suggesting that everyone at least consider teaching as a profession. These were some of the components missing in my own educational career as I prepared as an undergraduate student to become a teacher. In my studies I came across several classmates that appeared to be natural leaders. They opt out of becoming a teacher because they didn’t see any personal satisfaction. It’s unfortunate that the teacher didn’t work more with these individuals to put their talent to work in the classroom, rather than the boardroom.

Undergrads who start their studies to become teachers have already made the decision to train as teachers, and the image of teaching as a career has had some influence in their decision. In other words, the view undergraduate student have of what they want from a career and how they view teaching as a career may well differ from the views of those who choose not to enter teaching. If we are to get a clearer understanding of what attracts and motives certain people into teaching, we may find an answer to making the educational program a more successful one in retaining and recruiting student to take up teaching as career. If more well-qualified graduates are to be encouraged to decide to teach, we need to identify those factors which are important to them in choosing a career and then be able to persuade them that teaching offers what they are looking for.

Understanding undergraduates’ views of teaching as a career option can useful when coming up with teacher recruitment campaigns to target the now shrinking world of teaching.

Arellano (2004), for his part, noticed that public dissatisfaction with schools included dissatisfaction with teacher education. In fact, education schools have been criticized as ineffective in preparing teachers for their work and not responsive to new demands. This observation agreed with McCreight’s (2000) pointing out that one reason why teachers leave the teaching profession is their discovery that their teacher education program had not actually prepared them for the realities of teaching.


A total of 102 questionnaires of the 200 distributed were returned completed. After reviewing the 102 questionnaires: 15 of the sample were male teachers, and 75 were female teachers. Twelve were students at both University of Illinois in Chicago and DePaul University in Chicago. Five are studying Curriculum Arts subjects (such as English and History majors), and 7 are studying Curriculum Science subjects (such as Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics majors).

My results from that questionnaire will be classified into three categories, namely: (1) intrinsic, (2) extrinsic, and (3) altruistic. Intrinsic reasons dwells on the enjoyment of teaching and the school environment. Extrinsic reasons include the motivation behind one’s liking teaching such as long summer breaks and holidays. Altruistic reasons include being concerned with opportunities for making a difference in the lives of young people. The result of my questionnaire overwhelming agrees that most people motivations for pursuing a career in teaching was due to the altruistic reward. On the contrary, only 2 individuals who made teaching their choice after being in Corporate America were motivated by extrinsic rewards.

Other important factors about my questionnaire was the fact that most participates rated the importance of teaching as a career choice is something that would be “enjoyable” as the most important factor. Interestingly a “good starting base salary” was rated as very important by all the undergraduate students I questioned. Particularly noteworthy in my study there were a number of individuals that mentioned their “desire to work with children”, “a job where I will contribute to society” and “a job which gives me responsibility” were also highly important factors. However, what is of critical importance is the extent to which individuals feel that the factors they regard as important in choosing a career are in fact offered by a career in teaching.

Hence, Harms, and Knobloch (2005), states that recruitment effort for future teachers should be based on intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic as well as extrinsic motives for career choice by preservice teachers were identified by Harms and Knobloch (2005). Teachers who chose formal education as a career had intrinsic motives, while those who planned to pursue non-formal education careers had extrinsic motives. Research by Butcher and Lewis (2000) showed that students chose a career in teaching for largely altruistic reasons as long as they were assured that there would be employment opportunities and job security waiting for them.

Altruistic answers included:

1)Contribute to the development of knowledge 2)Promote the value of education

3)Touch the lives of other people and become part of other people’s success 4)Make people knowledgeable 5)Keep myself learning 6)Give direction to other people’s lives 7)Be able to leave a lasting legacy in the world 8)Be a role model 9)Gain personal satisfaction

Intrinsic answers included:

Enhance my communication skill Develop my self-confidence Develop my decision making skills Develop my problem-solving skills Enhance my thinking skills Enhance my leadership skills Enhance my potentials Practice my creativity

Extrinsic answers included:

Control of others Take advantage of an educational scholarship grant Become popular in the community Enjoy summer vacation . 2 weeks christmas break, Get employed immediately .

Factor 1, which yielded nineteen variables, described the idealistic

One final note that is note worthy to mention surprising non of my participates gave any negative feedback on their career choice or was their any comments about the government’s commitment towards education or the dealings with disruptive pupils or even the media images of teachers. The amount of bureaucratic tasks to perform


Teachers overwhelmingly say they love what they do. They say it allows them to contribute to society and help others. And they would choose teaching again as a career, if they had the choice. If you have a genuine interest in helping children realize their dreams, and want to play a part in improving our society, then those are reason that should be the motivating factor to teach. My thoughts of what a teacher should be formed from my own life experiences.

Many current policies to increase teacher supply have assumed that teacher numbers can be increased by monetary incentives, such as better pay and other financial incentives to recruitment. But what they don’t understand is that the financial incentive is not what is motivating a large majority of interested teachers. It’s the rewards that they can personal offer every student in the classroom to prepare for the challenges they will continue to face in the world.

At the Western Illinois University graduation in Macomb, Illinois speaker Dr. Marcus Dewitt, an educator for NASA, said “Teaching is a way of shaping the young minds of today for tomorrow. It’s a challenging task that you the graduation class of 1994 have chosen to make a career.” I believe the challenge Dr. Dewitt was referring to was teaching the unteachable. Teaching has remained as challenging today as it was back in 1994. As a 20 year old female coming out of college the challenge I was experiencing within was motivation. The truth is, teaching was demanding back in 1994 and it still is today. No doubt the choice to become a teacher is a decision to make a significant impact on the future and no career is simply easy or had no problems. But in 1994 I lacked the energy and the conviction that was needed to make a difference in the classrooms. Real teaching and real learning both require great acts of courage.

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