High school students' perceptions of teaching and their intention to choose teaching as a profession
This study was conducted to (a) explore high achieving high school students' perceptions of the teaching profession, (b) examine the influence of these perceptions on intentions to teach, and (c) test a recruitment suite of tools to determine the effectiveness of recruitment messaging and strategies. The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) served as the theoretical framework for this study. Using the TPB allowed examination of students' behavioral, normative, and control beliefs as well as their attitudes, subjective norms, and efficacy and how those components affected intentions to teach. Participants included high school seniors in the top 20% of their class. A mixed methods approach was employed to identify how the characteristics that students value when considering a profession were aligned with those they believed to be true about the teaching profession. Additionally mixing methods allowed for a more thorough exploration of the matter and an in-depth depiction of perceptions and intentions to teach. Results from a confirmatory path analysis showed students' perceived behavioral control, a measure of efficacy, and attitudes toward teaching were predictive of intention to teach and accounted for 25% of the variation in intention to teach scores. A series of exploratory structural equation models was developed to examine additional paths that might be useful in understanding students' intention to teach. Three additional, important paths were found among TPB variables that accounted for an additional 14% of the variation in intention scores. Additionally, these paths had implications for recruitment practice. Five themes emerged from the qualitative data--status, societal importance, influences of important others, teaching as a backup option, and barriers. The discussion focused on implications for recruitment practice and research, limitations, and conclusions. The following conclusions were drawn: (a) students must be provided with knowledge about the teaching profession to overcome stereotypical beliefs, (b) recruitment must begin much earlier, (c) parents must be better informed about teaching, (d) use of a longer recruitment process with multiple touch points must be used to inform and inspire students, and (e) students must be provided with practice teaching opportunities and systematic observational opportunities, which can foster increased efficacy for teaching.