Career Motivations, Role Expectations and Curriculum Knowledge of Prospective Secondary English Teachers in Western Australia

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Australian Journal of Teacher Education, Vol: 41, Issue: 12, Page: 41-66

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Moon, Brian; Harris, Barbara
Edith Cowan University
English teaching; teacher education; teacher motivations; Secondary Education and Teaching
article description
Teacher quality, teaching standards, and entry criteria for teacher education courses are currently subjects of intense national debate and policy development in Australia. As tertiary institutions respond to calls for a review of standards, there is a need for more data on the characteristics of entrants to teacher education and the factors that are likely to influence their performance as teachers. This survey-based study investigated the entry characteristics of four cohorts of secondary English majors at one institution. Prior studies have focussed on graduate-level students in one-year preparation courses, and addressed fewer factors. This study surveyed undergraduate students embarking on a four-year degree, and included a wider survey of motivations, perceptions and abilities. The findings indicate participants had strong emotional investments but modest past achievement in secondary school English. They rated affective factors as more important for teaching than academic performance or intellectual ability; and they rated their own knowledge and skills in some key curriculum areas as marginal. These results are considered in relation to the debate on teaching standards and the capacity of undergraduate teacher education courses to prepare high quality teachers.