Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Heinz, M. & Keane, E.
British Educational Research Association (BERA) Annual Conference
The career motivations & socio-demographic profiles of initial teacher education applicants in Ireland: Connecting teacher motivation and teacher diversity research
Conference Paper
Optional Fields
Studies exploring (student) teachers’ motivations have been conducted internationally, mostly with the aim of informing teacher recruitment and retention policies within a global context of growing teacher shortages (UNESCO, 2013). Many of the existing studies portray entering teacher candidates as one homogeneous group, paying little or no attention to within-group differences based on different teaching sectors and/or candidates’ socio-demographic/biographical backgrounds (Heinz, 2015). Where comparative analyses have been conducted, they have mostly been restricted to descriptions of gender and age differences, showing that female and primary teacher candidates often report more child-centred motivations to teach (Drudy et al., 2005) and that mature students value the job security and flexible working conditions of the teaching profession (Thornton et al., 2002; Watt & Richardson, 2008). In this presentation, we look beyond general country-specific motivational patterns. Drawing on data collected for our wider Irish Research Council-funded national DITE (Diversity in Initial Teacher Education in Ireland) research project, we explore the relationships between Initial Teacher Education (ITE) applicants’ socio-demographic profiles (age, sex, ethnicity, social class, (dis)ability, sexual orientation, religion, school/higher education experiences) and their career motivations. Our data have been collected from ITE applicants to state-funded ITE programmes (N=11,471) through the two national application centres in Ireland (the Central Application Office for undergraduate, and the Postgraduate Application Centre for postgraduate programmes) in 2014 using an online questionnaire (n=3,794, rr=33.1%). The questionnaire contains 79 items and was implemented pre-selection and before applicants were informed about the outcome of their application, thus ensuring satisfactory response rates from successful (49.2% for undergraduate and 64.4% for postgraduate programmes) and unsuccessful (25% for undergraduate and 43.9% for postgraduate programmes) applicants. We use the empirically-validated and internationally widely-used FIT-Choice scales (Watt & Richardson, 2007) in combination with a number of country-specific quantitative and qualitative items developed in author 1’s earlier study (2011), to investigate our respondents’ career motivations.  Our comparative analysis of the motivational profiles of successful vs. unsuccessful ITE applicants from different socio-demographic backgrounds will contribute to policy discussions and initiatives aimed at diversifying teaching bodies which, in many Western countries, have been reported to remain homogenously white, predominantly female and of the majority social and ethnic groupings (author 1, Moran, et al., 2001; Zumwalt & Craig, 2008). In order to attract more individuals from currently under-represented groups to ITE we need to know more about the career motivations of potential and actual ITE applicants from different socio-demographic backgrounds.      
Irish Research Council
Publication Themes
Applied Social Sciences and Public Policy