Who Becomes a Teacher – and Why? Causes of Choice of Field of Study, Entrance Qualifications of Teacher Students, and Evaluation of the TeacherStudy Programme
Teachers are a central determinant of successful schooling – this has been shown impressively by resent research on the effectiveness of educational systems. Therefore the question of how a society can attract high quality teachers is highly relevant for researchers and policy makers alike. In public debates on teacher quality it is often assumed that people with unfavourable cognitive and motivational characteristics choose to become teachers. However, few studies have investigated this assumption empirically. Against this background, the project focuses on the mechanisms that shape the decision to become a teacher – or not; and what this means for the composition of the teacher workforce and hence the learning environment of students in Germany. What are the qualifications of future teachers and in what respects do they differ from other students? What motivates them to start or to drop out of a teacher education programme? How do teacher students evaluate their study programme? Furthermore, the research project aims to investigate, whether these aspects have changed over the past 20-30 years, a period characterized by a massive educational expansion and changing labour market opportunities.
On the basis of a large nationwide dataset, cognitive, motivational and socio-demographic entrance characteristics of teacher students have been analysed in comparison to those of other higher education students. Results are forthcoming in a journal publication. In a next step, we will investigate how certain entrance characteristics of teacher students have changed over the past 30 years. In addition, supplementary analyses have been carried out focussing on effects of one specific teacher characteristic (the teacher’s gender) on educational inequality. More specifically, we have assessed whether the teacher’s gender can explain the ‘boy crisis’ in educational attainment. We discuss our findings in a journal article and a book chapter.