University of Tasmania
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Career journeys of initial teacher education graduates

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posted on 2023-05-28, 09:49 authored by Kidd, LM
There is an expectation that Initial Teacher Education (ITE) graduates will become teachers in Kindergarten to Year 12 (K-12) schools and remain teaching in these compulsory years of schooling for a long period of time. This, however, is not always the case. Research shows that beginning teachers leave teaching in years K-12 early in their careers due to factors such as poor work conditions, and a lack of job security. Teacher attrition research, therefore, is focused on finding ways to improve conditions to retain teachers in the K-12 school environment. Largely absent from the teacher attrition literature, however, is what career outcomes ITE graduates undertake if they do not remain teaching in K-12 schools. From another perspective, career development theories indicate that careers develop over time and that changes occur more frequently in the modern career than in the traditional career. These two literature bases, and their conflicting ideas, raised the important question of What Factors Influence Initial Teacher Education Graduates' Career Choices? The aim of this study was to gain an understanding of the ITE graduates' career journeys from compulsory education schooling onwards. This research is significant because it explores ITE graduates' career pathways whether or not they remain teaching in K-12 schools. In addition, it considers teachers' careers from a career development perspective. Grounded theory was used to explore the career pathways of the ITE graduates because there was limited research in this field of study. Grounded theory provided a robust framework with a flexible methodological process. A mixed methods approach allowed for qualitative and quantitative data to be generated to capture the voice of the ITE graduates through different sources of evidence. The quantitative data were generated through three surveys to provide a broad view of the ITE graduates' career choices. The main survey instrument, the Initial Teacher Education Graduate Survey,‚ÄövÑvp was designed specifically for the study and completed by 88 ITE graduates. For triangulation purposes, relevant additional quantitative data were incorporated from Graduate Destination Surveys‚ÄövÑvp and Beyond Graduation Surveys‚ÄövÑvp conducted by Graduate Careers Australia between the years 2010 and 2015 inclusively. The qualitative data were generated through 25 semi-structured interviews and provided a more detailed view of the graduates' career intentions and achievements. In keeping with grounded theory, purposeful sampling, combined with snowball sampling, was used to select the participants. The sample population were ITE graduates from the University of Tasmania. The participants included teachers in K-12 schools and ITE graduates in other occupations, some of whom were retired. The results showed ITE graduates' career pathways were multi-directional, dynamic, fluid, and varied both before and after entering the teaching profession. Whether they were teaching in K-12 schools or in alternative employment, the participants noted that they were satisfied with their career outcomes although not necessarily as planned. The study revealed that alternative career choices that took the ITE graduates away from classroom practice utilised the valuable skills and knowledge developed while studying ITE courses. The majority of those not teaching in K-12 schools were employed in teaching roles in other learning environments and/or in education-related occupations. The factors that influenced the ITE graduates' career choices were of a personal, social, and/or structural nature. The notions of the Individual Career Environment and the Reflexive Career Cycle were conceptualised from the results. The Individual Career Environment contains three elements of personal, social, and structural factors that affected the individual's career decision-making. Constant changes among the factors in the Individual Career Environment create a cycle of change, self-awareness, a zone of disequilibrium and reflexivity, and a decision-making. These components form the Reflexive Career Cycle through which the Individual Career Environment is re-structured and the ITE graduates' careers evolve. Understanding that career choices are impacted at an individual level, and are cyclical and often in flux, highlights the need for ITE course providers to continue to prepare future graduates for teaching in K-12 schools. For better informed practices, it is also beneficial for ITE providers to be aware of the types of alternative occupations ITE graduates obtain. The outcomes of this study also have flow-on implications for how the teaching profession approaches teacher retention.


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