Indonesian teacher education students' motivations for choosing a teaching career and a career plan

PhD defended at: 

Monash University


Anne Suryani



Students currently enrolled in teacher education courses will have a substantial impact on education in the future. It is therefore important to investigate their motivations for entering into teacher education, their perceptions about the teaching profession, and their career aspirations. There are two main problems in Indonesian teacher education: the distribution of teachers across the nation is unequal and the quality of Indonesian teachers needs to be improved (Jalal et al., 2009; World Bank, 2010; Chang et al., 2014). The context of teacher education in Indonesia is different to teacher education in other countries. Teacher education graduates may have opportunities in both teaching and non-teaching occupations; also, cultural values, particularly religion, influence students’ decisions about whether to enter teacher education. Teaching is highly respected as a noble profession; ‘teacher’ is translated in Bahasa Indonesia as guru, a person with knowledge or expertise who is expected to set a good example to society.

This study refers to the Factors Influencing Teaching Choice (FIT-Choice; Watt & Richardson, 2007) framework, which was based on the expectancy-value theory of achievement motivation (Eccles [Parsons] et al., 1983; Eccles, 2009; Wigfield & Eccles, 2000) and proposes that people’s choices, persistence and performance can be explained by their beliefs about how well they will perform an activity, and the extent to which they value it. Expectancy is defined as people’s beliefs and judgements about their capabilities to perform a task successfully. The theory states that higher expectancies for success are positively connected to a range of behaviours including achievement, choice and persistence (Eccles [Parsons] et al., 1983). Value refers to people’s beliefs about different reasons they regard a task as interesting, important or useful, for example.

This study aims to validate the structure of the Factors Influencing Teaching Choice scale (FIT-Choice; Watt & Richardson, 2007), the Professional Engagement and Career Development Aspirations scale (PECDA; Watt & Richardson, 2008), and the Religious Commitment Inventory-10 (RCI-10; Worthington et al. 2003) in the Indonesian context. It also aims to compare the reasons for individuals choosing to enter into teacher education; to explore whether these individuals plan to become a teacher or not upon completion of their studies; and, to identify the main motivations and perception factors that influence their professional engagement and career development aspirations.

Participants were 802 fourth-year undergraduate teacher education students at two public and two private universities in Jakarta and Yogyakarta, Indonesia (M age = 21 years, SD = 2.31, 83.16% women). Following translation, back-translation and piloting, participants completed a questionnaire adapted from the FIT-Choice scale with the following factors added to reflect potentially relevant aspects of the Indonesian setting: religious influences, second job (time for casual work), tuition fee for teacher education (cheaper), admission into teacher education (less competitive), time for teacher education studies (shorter) and media dissuasion. Questions were also adopted from PECDA scale and the RCI-10. Data analyses included Confirmatory Factor Analyses (CFAs) using AMOS 20; reliability analyses, one-way multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVAs), and correlations using SPSS 20; and two structural equation models estimated using AMOS 20.

The translated instruments proved valid and reliable. From the FIT-Choice scale, social utility values (make social contribution, work with children/adolescents, and enhance social equity) were found to be the main motivations for entering into teacher education, followed by prior teaching and learning experiences and intrinsic value. Five personal utility values (religious influences, job security/career progression prospects, second job, time for family/bludging, job transferability) were also highly rated motivational factors. Most participants perceived teaching as a very demanding and difficult occupation requiring a high level of expertise. Teaching was also perceived to have high social status with a moderate salary. Media dissuasion was rated moderately high, in line with the negative portrayal of the teaching profession in the mass media. The majority of participants (81.92%) planned to become teachers after study completion, 11.72% planned to teach temporarily then switch career, 4.86% intended to pursue non-teaching occupations and 1.50% did not respond.

Structural equation models to identify unique predictors for PECDA factors (planned effort, planned persistence, professional development aspirations, and leadership aspirations), revealed that participants’ interests and enjoyment in teaching, their desire to help disadvantaged youth, their religious beliefs, their perceptions about the expertise of the profession and satisfaction with teaching as a career choice positively impacted the effort future teachers planned to put into their teaching. The length of time they planned to stay in teaching was predicted by intrinsic career value, planned effort and satisfaction with choice. Professional development aspirations were predicted by intrinsic value and enhance social equity, religious beliefs, expertise and satisfaction with choice, and professional development aspirations subsequently predicted leadership aspirations.

This thesis has been awarded the Mollie Holman Medal as the best doctoral thesis in the Faculty of Education, Monash University.

ICAS is an initiative of the
International Insitute for Asian Studies