An investigation of the multiple commitments of middle school teachers: Their antecedents and consequences

Mimi G Hamilton, Fordham University


The present study identified four commitments (organizational, professional, student and pragmatic) held by 364 middle school teachers and examined their role in mediating the influence of personal and situational characteristics upon teachers' beliefs and behaviors. Teachers' sex and years of teaching experience, characteristics of the school (student-teacher ratio and school poverty level) and of the student body (percentage of minority students) were hypothesized to minimally affect teachers' commitment levels, efficacy beliefs and effort beliefs and behaviors. Situational characteristics, including the professional climate among teachers and principal, core characteristics of teaching, and implementation of middle school practices were expected to significantly predict both teachers' organizational, professional and student commitments, as well as teaching behaviors and attitudes. Teachers were committed to their own pragmatic interests which did not influence their teaching behavior or attitudes, and were also committed to their school, their profession, and their students, which did predict behavior and attitudes. Hierarchical regressions provided evidence that commitments were important to understand teachers' efficacy and effort. Fifty-one to 84% percent of the variance for teaching behavior and attitudes was explained by the full model. Organizational commitment explained an additional 4% of the variance for efficacy, and professional, student and organizational commitments explained an additional 13–14% of the variance for effort outcomes beyond that explained by personal and by situational characteristics. Path models examining the mediating role of the commitments illustrated that a teachers' sense of efficacy was heightened when they were committed to their school, and teaching conditions were optimal. Teachers' made more effort and believed their effort important when they were committed to their profession, their students and their school. Characteristics of the school, students and work environment also influenced teachers' effort. These results suggest that a multiple commitment approach is valuable for studying the impact of the workplace upon teaching performance. The pervasive influence of enriched jobs and professional climate support the notion that teachers regard themselves as professionals. It is therefore imperative that reform efforts aimed at restructuring teaching and recreating the dynamics of the workplace consider how these changes affect the way teachers perceive themselves, their work environment and their jobs.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Secondary education|Occupational psychology

Recommended Citation

Hamilton, Mimi G, "An investigation of the multiple commitments of middle school teachers: Their antecedents and consequences" (1999). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9917504.