|A study of commitment to a profession: an application of Becker's concept to classroom teachers in selected elementary schools|
Helen Patricia Goodell
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Tags: Rating of, teachers, teaching, Vocational guidance
A STUDY OF COMMITMENT TO A PROFESSION: AN APPLICATION OF BECKERĘS CONCEPT TO CLASSROOM TEACHERS IN SELECTED ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
Helen Patricia Goodell
This study was based on the assumptions that professional commitment is related to excellence of teaching, and that professional commitment, as a characteristic of good teachers, is most commonly described in terms of behaviors. The study proposed a behavioral definition of professional commitment to teaching which would provide insights into the nature of the forces which produce behavioral evidence of professional commitment in classroom teachers. It did not deal with a definition of teaching or the question of the relationship between commitment and the quality of teaching.
It was hypothesized that BeckerĘs concept of commitment would provide a theoretical base for use in examining professional commitment of elementary classroom teachers. This concept provided terms for examining the professional activities of teachers and linking their extraneous interests to the line of activities which, by common standards, seems to indicate that teachers are committed to their profession. To test this hypothesis:
1. A structure for an operational definition of professional commitment was developed from a survey of professional activities identified in professional literature.
2. An interview guide, based on this operational definition, was developed and used in obtaining data which included a list of professional activities in which a selected group of elementary classroom teachers said they participated, and reasons they gave for participation or lack of participation.
3. These reasons were abstracted from the interview data and classified by a category system developed from BeckerĘs concept of commitment.
4. Judgment of each teacherĘs professional commitment was obtained from his principal and school superintendent on a forced choice scale of high, average, and low. When interviewed, administrators identified criteria used in rating teachers.
5. Comparisons were made between administratorsĘ ratings of teachersĘ professional commitment and professional commitment as determined by applying the Becker concept to the interview data.
6. A detailed analysis of the nature of the commitment of teachers rated high and low by their administrators was made.
7. A composite picture of professional commitment for those teachers rated high by administrators was evolved as a behavioral definition of professional commitment.
The population consisted of eighteen elementary classroom teachers representing all elementary schools in one school system.
The Becker rating did not discriminate between teachers rated high and low in professional commitment by administrative ratings, but did provide a theoretical base for developing a category system which was used to classify and analyze the nature of the commitment represented in the data. Results were consistent with the assumption derived from the literature that participation in professional activities is one manifestation of professional commitment, and with BeckerĘs concept than an increased quantity of reasons for acting results in increased commitment. Teachers rated high in professional commitment gave more reasons for participating in professional activities than did teachers rated low. Teachers rated low gave more reasons for not participating than did teachers rated high. Teachers rated high in professional commitment, contrasted to those rated low, expressed strong feelings of relationship between personal and professional interests. They revealed a oneness of personal and professional self images -- a personal fulfillment in teaching. This relationship suggests implications for teacher education programs to nurture the personal-professional self, and for school systems to reorganize their social structures to provide opportunities for its development.
Suggestions were made for use of the proposed definition and other findings in future empirical studies which might recognize and measure professional commitment, and relate professional commitment to teaching performance.