London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Social values and the factors that influence students to become elementary school teachers

Author(s) Constantinos Papanastasiou, Elena Papanastasiou  
Publisher CiCe Publications  
Year 2000  
Editor Alistair Ross, Curricula for Citizenship in Europe  
Language English  
Age group -  
Many contemporary societies have high expectations of elementary schooling, and thus from elementary school teachers. Much depends on who are employed as teachers if schools are to attain desirable outcomes, and if teachers are to meet society's expectations. This paper identifies and compares factors that have motivated students at the University of Cyprus and at Pennsylvania State University to choose the elementary school teaching profession. Intrinsic factors are those associated with the act of teaching itself and with the values that students hold. Extrinsic factors include benefits attached to the teaching profession that can influence students to study teaching at college. An understanding and comparison of these factors (in relation to the educational systems and social factors in the two countries) can help improve the selection of the teaching force in both countries. Five factors were identified that influence students to choose elementary education as a career: internal motivation, a variety of benefits, the status of the profession, interpersonal influence, and academic ability. The results of this study support the hypothesis that there are major differences in the responses of students from the two universities. The factor most influencing students at the University of Cyprus in choosing to enter elementary education was 'the variety of benefits'. The strongest factor that influenced students from Penn State University was 'internal motivation'. Cyprus after independence was an underdeveloped country, and many students struggled in the past to gain attractive jobs in order to step up to a higher socioeconomic status. Teaching was one profession offering such a step. Even today, student teachers know that after graduation they will earn a relatively high salary. Cypriot society perceives students entering teaching as lucky, and parents usually put intense pressure on their children to become teachers. In the US the status of the teaching profession is less attractive, with relatively lower salaries. Students are influenced by the different values held by different societies.

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