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Global Perspectives on Teacher Motivation

reviewed by Kenneth T. Carano

coverTitle: Global Perspectives on Teacher Motivation
Author(s): Helen M. G. Watt, Paul W. Richardson, & Kari Smith (Eds.)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
ISBN: 1107512220, Pages: 416, Year: 2017
Search for book at Amazon.com

Education is not only the backbone of an individual’s intellectual growth but is also considered by many to be critical to a country’s future economy (Breakspear, 2012). As a result, in many places teachers have been increasingly scrutinized and expected to facilitate increased student achievement, which is often assessed through high-stakes testing (Au, 2009). Teacher stress and burnout has coincided with these increased expectations (e.g. Kyriacou, 2001; Au, 2009). Due to growing teacher attrition (Simon & Johnson, 2015), school district administrators are also feeling the pressure; they have to increasingly hire teachers, many of whom are new to the profession. Considering these numbers and the importance of educating students, understanding what motivates people to enter and remain in the education field has taken on greater importance. Global Perspectives on Teacher Motivation, edited by Helen M. G. Watt, Paul W. Richardson, and Kari Smith, provides insight into this issue by looking at what motivates teachers to enter and stay in the profession.

This intriguing and timely book explores pre-service and early career teacher motivation data from studies across 12 different countries. An interesting and critical contribution of this book is that researchers in each study use the FIT-Choice framework (with some adaptations specific to cultural situations), allowing for comparisons across countries. Each chapter begins with a detailed description of teacher education and teaching in that country. The chapters also include an in-depth analysis and description of the reasons that people become teachers and stay in the profession. This consistency in format across chapters allows the reader to compare teacher motivations across cultures, socio-economic regions, educational systems, and types of teacher education programs. Ultimately, the book has practical implications for education policy makers, school district recruiters, and teacher education programs, giving them the ability to analyze the impact of variables such as national and state policies on teacher motivation.

The editors begin the first chapter by providing a summary of why teacher motivation matters, an overview of the FIT-Choice framework, and an outline of how the 11 chapters differ in terms of samples and settings. The countries studied vary widely in terms of location, from Europe to North America, the Middle East, and Asia. Authors in each chapter outline the country’s schooling system, teacher education process, their sample and setting, discuss the FIT-Choice scale and any adaptations specific to the culture before sharing the results. For example, Chapter Two begins by providing background on the education system and economic and education development policies in Ireland. The authors then provide some literature on findings from empirical studies exploring the backgrounds and motivations of teacher education students in the country. Chapters Three through Six remain focused on Western Europe (Spain, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria), and follow a similar pattern of providing information about local context, previous literature, and sample setup before identifying findings.

Chapters Seven and Eight share research from two Eastern European countries, Estonia and Croatia. In Chapter Seven, the authors examine changes in motivations and perceptions among education students in Estonia during their first year in their program. Chapter Eight explores the role of personality and students’ motivations for wanting to teach among a group of education students in Croatia. Chapter Nine discusses prospective teachers’ hopes, motivations, and professional plans in Turkey. Chapter Ten, which focuses on Indonesia, is the only instance in the book where religion (in this case among Muslim participants) was an important motivator for students entering teacher education programs.

The last two chapters focus on English-speaking countries. The authors of Chapter Eleven share the results of a comparative analysis of the effects of teacher responsibility and teacher self-efficacy on indicators of professional commitment among students in a U.S. education program. In Chapter Twelve, the motivations and perceptions among beginning English and mathematics teachers in Australia are compared. The final chapter is a commentary by Ruth Butler that explores overarching themes from the empirical data across countries and the possible implications of these findings on practice and policy.

While across countries the majority of those choosing teaching as a career appear to have a desire to improve society, these studies suggest that people who seek to become teachers are motivated by a myriad of interacting variables often unique to their local culture. This book fills an important void in the literature and has practical implications for teacher education programs, teacher recruiters, and education policymakers across countries. For instance, the findings can benefit teacher education programs in identifying quality future educators and tailoring teacher education experiences to maximize student benefit. In teacher recruitment, gaining a better understanding of motivations for teaching can help identify quality teachers, especially in high-needs areas. This understanding may also be beneficial to establishing appropriate support for new teachers. Education policymakers can gain insights into the personal dispositions that may best meet their pedagogical goals. For example, as Butler (2017) states, “The findings that subject interest was associated with teacher-centered rather than student-centered practices and beliefs confirms the importance of including this factor in research with both future and practicing teachers” (p. 384). National and state policymakers, who often emphasize high-stakes testing, would also do well to heed the warnings and learn from the research on the effects of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation and of mastery versus performance goals. Finally, the discussion on teacher motivators in a rich variety of contexts allows the reader to see the similarities and differences among reasons for entering the teaching profession across cultural settings.


Au, W. (2009). Social studies, social justice: W(h)ither the social studies in high-stakes testing? Teacher Education Quarterly, 36(1), 43–58.

Breakspear, S. (2012). The policy impact of PISA: An exploration of the normative effects of international benchmarking in school system performance (OECD Education Working Papers No. 71). Retrieved from https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/the-policy-impact-of-pisa_5k9fdfqffr28-en

Butler, R. (2017). Why choose teaching, and does it matter? In H. M. G. Watt, P. W. Richardson, & K. Smith (Eds.), Global perspectives on teacher motivation (pp. 377–388). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Kyriacou, C. (2001). Teacher stress: Directions for future research. Educational Review, 53(1), 27–35.

Simon, N. S., & Johnson, S. M. (2015). Teacher turnover in high-poverty schools: What we know and can do. Teachers College Record, 117(3), 1–36.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, 2018, p. -
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22413, Date Accessed: 7/16/2018 12:44:12 AM

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