MOTIVES FOR PURSUING TEACHING AS A PROFESSION BY STUDENT-TEACHERS IN THE UEW
In October 2016, the Institute for Educational Research and Innovations Studies (IERIS) of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) took the initiative to conduct a study on the motives of student-teachers in UEW who pursue courses leading to the award of bachelor degrees in Education. The purpose of the study was to investigate the motives of Student-teachers in UEW for pursuing teaching as a career, so as to inform management of the University to develop policies and take steps to make the University more appealing and attractive. In doing so, views of student-teachers who were on campus at the time of the study and pursuing programmes leading to the award of degrees in teaching were sampled.
The UEW consists of four main campuses, namely, Winneba, Kumasi, Mampong and Ajumako. However, students on the Winneba campus who were pursuing certificate, diploma, post-diploma and bachelor programmes in education participated in the study. Quantitative method was employed, using a cross-sectional survey involving a large number of undergraduate students in the first, second and third year groups. A total of 3,038 (11.96%) student-teachers out of a student-teacher population of 25,401 participated in the study. The student-teachers were selected through multistage sampling, where they were first stratified into departments, year groups and categories (trained/professional and untrained/nonprofessional) from which participants were randomly selected. This method gave the study a fair representation of each category of student-teachers to participate in the study. A self- developed structured questionnaire was used to collect data, using a 5-point Likert Scale according to students’ extent of agreement or disagreement with the statements “strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree and strongly disagree”.
Data from the study were analysed in two phases by first describing respondents’ characteristics, using means, standard deviations and percentages. These were presented in frequency tables, graphs and charts. The second phase was factor-analysed with reference to students’ motives, using the Principal Component Analysis (PCA) in order to help group the items into four main motives, namely personal, socio-cultural, professional/career and economic motives for pursuing teaching as a career. Furthermore, the motives were correlated with the variables, “sex, age, level of university education, category of teachers, rank, number of years of service in the teaching profession before enrolling in UEW” to help understand the motives of prospective applicants. Independent sample t-test was used to test for differences in the mean distribution of variables and motives for pursuing teaching as a career.
The following are the main findings of the study:
1. The age of student-teachers was found to correlate negatively with their personal and socio-economic motives, indicating that as student-teachers grow older, their personal and economic motives for pursuing teaching as a career decrease. On the other hand, socio-cultural and career motives correlated positively with age (r = .042, p = .051 and r = .023, p = .292) but the career motive was not statistically significant to report on. These findings suggest that, as people grow older, they are personally or intrinsically less motivated to pursue careers in teaching. However, their socio-cultural and career motives increase with increase in age.
2. The levels of education of respondents correlated positively with all the four motives and were highly significant at 1% level of significance. Although causality is not impugned, these findings suggest that as a student progresses from first to second and to third year of his/her studies in the UEW, his/her personal (r =.061, p = .004), socio-cultural (r = .071, p = .001), economic (r = .058, p = .006) and career (r = .055, p = .010) motives for pursuing teaching also increase.
3. Even though, the sex of respondents had no statistical significance on their motives [ personal (r = -.026, p = .231), career (r = -.035, p = .108), socio-cultural (r = -.007, p = .748) and economic (r = -.004, p = .852)] to pursue teaching, personal and career motives influenced their choices. This suggests that females were more motivated to enrol in UEW to pursue careers in teaching because of intrinsic and career considerations.
4. The personal (r = -.085, p = .000) and economic (r = -.047, p = .028) motives were statistically significant regarding student-teachers who were already teachers before enrolling in UEW. This indicates that student-teachers who were not trained teachers before they were enrolled were less motivated by intrinsic and economic considerations, but more motivated by socio-cultural considerations to become teachers. Similarly, student-teachers who had higher qualifications in teaching were more motivated by socio-cultural reasons to pursue a career in teaching.
5. It also emerged from the study that the longer a person stays in the field of teaching as a teacher, the less motivated he/she will want to pursue further studies in the profession. This is to be expected because they are already teachers and would only want to pursue further studies in teaching for personal motives and perhaps also for career progression.
6. The study found out that majority of the respondents preferred to be in the teaching profession even before entering Colleges of Education. This implies that respondents like teaching as a profession and will pursue courses in education to the highest level in order to become more effective teachers.
Key implications and recommendations
The findings about the motives for the choice of teaching by student-teachers in the University of Education have some critical implications for the University and Educational Policy makers at all levels of education in the country.
1. The finding that majority of respondents preferred teaching to other jobs is encouraging. This passion must be sustained by way of creating an enabling environment for teacher education in the country to ensure that those who have such desires are able to pursue them to the highest level possible. It is therefore important that the UEW takes steps to expand and improve on existing infrastructure and facilities such as halls of residence, library, and access to the internet. Again, UEW should make conscious effort to increase its manpower through recruitment and upgrading of staff.
2. It was found that as student-teachers grow older, they become more motivated to further their career in teaching. It is likely that, such student-teachers feel more secure with their teaching career and want to pursue further studies in teaching. These people can take advantage of the Distance Education Programmes that have been rolled out by the University of Education, Winneba and University of Cape Coast to upgrade themselves. These calls for increase resources to UEW to enable the university provide quality training.
3. The study found that the motives of student-teachers appear to increase as they move from one level to the other. This suggests that as they enter UEW to pursue programmes in education, they gain more insight into the teaching profession and therefore become more interested in the profession as they progress. This is important because 86.7% of the respondents were not trained teachers before enrolling into UEW to pursue teaching as a career. It will be prudent for UEW to continue to sustain the interest of continuing students in teaching as well as design programmes to entice young prospective non-teacher applicants. This calls for more support for teacher education in the country by providing more teaching and learning materials, refresher courses and incentive packages for lecturers to make the training easier. It further implies that more lecturers need to be recruited so as to reduce the workload of the existing staff.
4. It also emerged that student-teachers in the age cohort of 28-31 were very passionate about teaching. This implies that, such energetic group of people will remain in teaching for a long time. It will thus be prudent for UEW to target young people other than older people in its drive to entice prospective applicants to pursue programmes in teaching. This is good for the profession and must be encouraged by government in order to attract more young people into the teaching profession. This can be done by giving student-teachers employment immediately after their training.
5. The study further revealed that respondents agreed that prestige was a motive for pursuing teaching as a career. This suggests that UEW should be well resourced to enable it to continue to provide quality training in order that trained teachers may be able to protect their public image. Also, the Ministry of Education, the Ghana Education Service and other stakeholders must put their “shoulders to the wheel” to support teachers in every way possible to keep the prestige of teachers high so that more young people will join the service. This can be done by improving the conditions of service and professionalising (licensing of teachers) teaching as other professions
6. Furthermore, some student-teachers were of the view that they were pursuing education as a stepping-stone. This could suggest that this group of student-teachers were pursuing studies in education because they could not make the required grades for their intended fields of studies. They see teaching as a last resort. However, the Ministry of Education can make teaching more attractive to such group of people by improving the conditions of service and code of conduct of teachers as in the case of law, medicine and other professions.
7. It was found out that the longer a person stays in the field of teaching, the more motivated s/he will wants to pursue a career in teaching. It is recommended that the Ministry of Education provides incentives such as bursaries and study leave with pay to teachers who have served for a long time to upgrade themselves through refresher courses and regular programmes.