Author(s):Olivia Voltri (presenting), Piret Luik, Merle Taimalu

Conference:ECER 2013, Creativity and Innovation in Educational Research

Network:10. Teacher Education Research


Session Information

10 SES 08 A, Entering, Staying and Being Mentored - The Experience of Pre-Service Teachers

Paper Session



Chair/Discussant:Gerry MacRuairc/ Maria A. Flores


Factors Motivating The Choice Of Teaching As A Career For Preservice Teachers And Novice Teachers

Teaching is a challenging and therefore an often stressful job. Much like in Australia, we have a similar problem in Estonia of negative representations of the work of teachers in the mass media, political ideology, and shifts in public opinion, all impacting on the popularity and reputation of teaching as a career choice (Richardson & Watt, 2006; Strategy of Estonian teacher education, 2008). In Estonia the situation has become critical over the past decade, as only a few students enrol in teacher training programs, and only one third of graduates enter into the profession (Ots et al., 2008). Among young people’s occupational preferences, teaching has been one of the least preferred (Krips, Taimalu, Luik, & Kukemelk, 2009). For this reason heightened attention should be paid to what would make teaching as a career appealing, and to ascertain what would motivate young people to study to become teachers and choose teaching as a career (Strategy of Estonian teacher education, 2008).

Motivations for choosing to teach vary, including a desire to work with children and adolescents and the potential for the job to provide for intellectual fulfilment (OECD, 2005; Watt & Richardson, 2007), positive self-evaluation of their capabilities to be teachers (Richardson & Watt, 2006; Sinclair, 2008a), salary, job security, and career status (Watt & Richardson, 2008). Studies have also shown that the primary motives for young people choosing the profession of teacher are teaching ability (Fokkens-Bruinsma & Canrinus, 2012), the will to work with children and to follow their development (Marston, 2010; Sinclair, 2008a).

Studies have also shown that the motivations for choosing to teach are associated with teacher retention and commitment (Sinclair, 2008b; Watt & Richardson, 2008). Lin, Shi, Wang, Zhang and Hui (2012) note that understanding the preservice teachers’ initial motivations to teach contributes to the important knowledge base for developing teacher education policies and programs designed to improve the quality of teachers and teaching practice. It is therefore important to figure out the factors motivating the career choice of both preservice teachers and novice teachers, since this helps the organizers of teacher training programmes to better understand how to motivate students to choose teaching as a career and to motivate novice teachers to remain true to their chosen profession.


The purpose of the present study is to compare the motivational factors for choosing teaching as a career for novice teachers in their induction year and for preservice teachers, with the purpose of determining the factors that are more important for one group and which are important for the other group.


The sample consisted of 396 respondents (207 teachers in their induction year; 189 preservice teachers) from the University of Tallinn and the University of Tartu, and the study was conducted during two different years (2010; 2012). The respondents were distributed by specialization as follows: 131 kindergarten teachers, 62 class teachers, 24 natural sciences teachers, 13 exact sciences teachers, 124 humanities teachers, 30 specialized teachers, and 11 others (special education teachers, social pedagogues, speech therapists). One respondent did not indicate their speciality.
Data was collected with a questionnaire based on The Factors Influencing Teaching Choice Scale (FIT-Choice Scale) developed by Watt & Richardson (2007). FIT-Choice Scale has been developed on the basis of the expectancy-value theory and includes three parts: items related to the choice of teaching as a career, items of perceptions about teaching, and items of satisfaction with career choice. The original questionnaire consists of 57 items and has a 7 point scale (from 1 - not important to 7 – most important). The questionnaire was adjusted to the Estonian context, resulting in a 5 point scale and 26 items. The reliability of the scale of the adjusted version was between 0.55-0.93.
Data was analysed using exploratory factor analysis and the t-test.

Expected Outcomes

The determinants for choosing teaching as a career resulted in a 5-factor structure: ability and intrinsic career value; extrinsic career value and time for family; shaping the future of children/adolescents and enhancing social equity; prior teaching and learning experience; social influence. The comparison between novice teachers and preservice teachers with the t-test resulted in a significant difference for two factors: ability and intrinsic career value; extrinsic career value and time for family. Items related to satisfaction with teaching as a career and conceptions about teaching resulted in a 3-factor structure (social status and salary; expert career and high demand; satisfaction with choice of teaching as a career), and there was a statistically significant difference between novice teachers and preservice teachers on one factor: satisfaction with choice of teaching as a career. There were also differences between the two groups for more significant factors.


Eesti õpetajahariduse strateegia 2009-2013 (2008), [Strategy of Estonian teacher education, 2008] Retrieved December 14 2012, from
Fokkens-Bruinsma, M., Canrinus, E. T. (2012). The factors influencing teaching (FIT)-choice scale in a Dutch teacher education program. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, Vol 40, No 3, August, pp 249-269.
Krips, H., Taimalu, M., Luik, P., & Kukemelk, H. (2009). Estonian students’ occupational preferences. Poster Presentation in EARLI 2009 Conference.
Lin, E., Shi, Q., Wang, J., Zhang, S., Hui, L. (2012) Initial motivations for teaching: comparison between perservice teachers in the United States and China. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, Vol 40, No 3, August, pp 227-248.
Marston, S. H. (2010). Why do they teach? A comparison of elementary, high school, and collage teachers. Education,vol 131, 2, 437-454.
OECD (2005). Teachers Matter. Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers. Paris: OECD
Ots, A., Vaher, K., Selliov, R., & Laanoja, P (2008). Ülevaade Eesti õpetajaskonnast [Overview of Estonian teaching staff] Retrieved December 12 2012, from
Richardson P.W. & Watt, H.M.G. (2006). Who chooses teaching and why? Profiling characteristics and motivations across three Australian universities. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 34(1), 27–56.
Sinclair, C. (2008a). Initial and changing student teacher motivation and commitment to teaching. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 36(2), 79–104.
Sinclair, C. (2008b). How can what we know about motivation to teach improve the quality of initial teacher education and its practicum? P.A. Towndrow, C. Koh & T.H. Soon (eds.). Motivation and practice for the classiroom, 37-61.
Watt, H.M.G. & Richardson, P.W. (2007). Motivational factors influencing teaching as a career choice: Development and validation of the FIT-Choice scale. Journal of Experimental Education, 75, 167-202.
Watt, H.M.G. & Richardson, P.W. (2008). Motivations, perceptions, and aspirations concerning teaching as a career for different types of beginning teachers. Learning and Instruction, 18, 408-428.

Author Information

Olivia Voltri (presenting)
University of Tartu
Institute of Education
Piret Luik
University of Tartu
Institute of Education
Merle Taimalu
University of Tartu
Institute of Education