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Higher Education; Class; Gender; Career Decision-Making

Time for Class: Undergraduates' and Lecturers' Perceptions on Why Undergraduates Want to Teach

Andrew Morrison
Sociological Research Online 17 (3) 12

Keywords: Higher Education; Class; Gender; Career Decision-Making
Abstract: This paper reports upon the results of a small-scale qualitative investigation looking at the perceptions of students and lecturers regarding students' motivations to become teachers. The samples for the study were a group of final-year undergraduates on a non-QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) degree in Education Studies at a post-1992 university in the South-East Wales area and their lecturing staff, plus careers advisor. The aim of the study was to compare the perceptions of the two research samples with regard to students' motivations for wanting to become teachers. A particular focus of the study was to consider the relationship between students' social class and the extent to which (if at all) they cited extrinsic factors such as job security or pay as sources of motivation to enter teaching. The research revealed some degree of disjunction between the accounts given by the students and the members of staff. Focus group interviews with student samples indicated that although they initially highlighted intrinsic motivations for wanting to be teachers, when questioned about extrinsic factors, job security emerged as an important source of motivation. In contrast, individual interviews with staff members revealed more mixed responses, with a tendency to cite holidays as an important motivating factor in the students' aim to become teachers. The comments of some staff members also revealed an unwitting tendency to position students within a cultural deficit discourse based upon perceptions of students' limited career decision-making. It is concluded that it will be increasingly necessary for higher education teaching staff to have some awareness of the social context within which their students undertake career decision-making in view of a policy context in which universities are to become increasingly accountable for the employment outcomes of their graduates.