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Luleå University of Technology's researchers (from left) Lena Manderstedt, Ulrika Bergmark, Annbritt Palo and Stefan Lundström. View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Why become a teacher?

Published: 27 April 2018

What motives do students have for choosing a teaching career? That has been identified in new study from Luleå University of Technology, involving over 250 student teachers.

– This research is particularly interesting in times of teacher shortage and increased need for skills supply. It is important for teacher educators to know the motives and driving forces behind the students' career choice. That helps us to meet their expectations, but also to challenge the students in their performances and to give them realistic expectations of the teaching profession, says Ulrika Bergmark, Associate Professor of Education at Luleå University of Technology.

She and research colleagues Stefan Lundström, Lena Manderstedt and Annbritt Palo have analyzed more than 250 letters written by students admitted to three different teacher education programmes at Luleå University of Technology.

Altrustic motives

In the students' letters, four main reasons for becoming teachers appear:

  • (Re)creating the caring school: Relates to both positive and negative experiences from students’ own schooling and former teachers. Irrespective of their experiences, students commonly expressed that school should be a place for growth and development. 
  • Creating a desirable professional life: Encompasses different ways of perceiving the conditions of the teaching profession. The nodal point of this discourse is profession. 
  • Fostering the upright human being: Manifests the student teachers’ wishes to make a difference for human beings and, in the long run, to make a difference in society. 
  • Forming a valuable knowledge: Relates to students’ wishes to convey knowledge to pupils in the subjects they will be teaching. Subject and knowledge merge into one nodal point: valuable (subject) knowledge.

– The younger pupils the students will teach, the more altruistic are the motives for choosing the teaching profession, says Stefan Lundström, Senior Lecturer in Swedish and Education.

Ulrika Bergmark says student teachers expect a profession that is developing and personally rewarding.

– It highlights the importance of skills development.

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