A qualitative study of the factors that influence 3rd-year teachers to remain in or to leave teaching

Ruth Ann Connolly, Fordham University


Research has been conducted on teachers' concerns regarding the workplace, yet little has addressed the population of 3rd-year teachers. This research included, but looked beyond reasons for teacher attrition resulting from workplace conditions. It inquired what the factors were that influenced teachers to remain in or to leave teaching. A qualitative study was conducted through two interviews and document analysis, using a population of seven suburban, public school, kindergarten-grade 6 teachers who had completed 3 consecutive years of teaching, and possessed an undergraduate degree. Research was guided by motivation and adult development theories, utilizing a multiple site and subject approach, and modified analytic inductive strategy. Databases for document analysis were selected by the participating teachers. The research findings support those of Burden (1982) on the inevitability of interaction between teachers' personal and professional lives, those of Hacksaw and Oldham (1976), Fletcher (1990), and Smylie (1994) on teacher efficacy, and Fox (1986) on motivation. The factors that influence a teacher to remain in teaching: (a) originate in their personal lives, emerging through feelings, background, and personality, and (b) arise from the realm of their professional life, emanating through relationships and their definition of teaching. These categories are similar to those established by Chapman (1983). It is a conclusion of this research that the 3rd year is not the decision-making year. The research population was aware of professional problems such as burnout and teacher isolation, and expressed the desire to deal with these factors in a proactive manner. Reasons for remaining or leaving that stem from interaction with the bureaucracy of schooling, educational restructuring and reform, and society's treatment of teachers were of particular interest. The study ascertained that 3rd-year teachers: (a) were distressed that administration and teachers did not talk about teaching; (b) struggled with teacher isolation and myriad social service tasks; (c) perceived themselves as agents of reform, not cocreators; and (d) were concerned with rampant teacher bashing. Dan Lortie (1975) concluded that teachers struggle with problems and anxieties privately, never developing a professional support system. Twenty years later, on a smaller, less-sophisticated scale, this research identifies the same truths.

Subject Area

School administration|Curricula|Teaching|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Connolly, Ruth Ann, "A qualitative study of the factors that influence 3rd-year teachers to remain in or to leave teaching" (1995). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9543469.