The influence of career values and the collegiate experience in the choice to teach : a focus on math and science

LaTurner, Robert Jason, 1968-
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Ideally, students in our primary and secondary schools have teachers who are certified, know their discipline, and are committed to the profession. However, recent trends reveal that between 25 and 40 percent of high school students are taught a math or science class by an individual that has neither majored, minored or been certified in the subject material. The evidence is particularly disconcerting for poor or minority students who are even more likely to be taught math and science by teachers with inadequate qualifications. In an effort to improve our understanding of the choice to teach, I investigate the role of the following in the choice to teach for recent baccalaureate recipients: career values – economic incentives, a service orientation, and non-economic vi incentives – and college characteristics and services. I also examine certification and academic measures, and family background and demographic characteristics as important control variables. I examine these issues by utilizing data from Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B), a nationally representative, longitudinal study of individuals who completed a bachelor’s degree in 1992-93. Overall, I find the choice to teach is not predicated by one’s service orientation but is in fact largely and negatively influenced by expected economic incentives in the profession. At the same time, it is clear that the choice to teach is moderated by other factors, such as non-economic incentives and one’s college environment. Results vary by gender and math/science qualifications. For those who become math or science teachers, subject preparation, certification status and demographic characteristics are indicative of early retention and commitment, though career values are not.