The relationship of personality traits to choice of teaching as a career

Year: 2009

Author: Quinn, Kevin Watt, Helen M.G.

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Teacher shortages compel consideration of the reasons individuals choose to enter the teaching profession. Researchers investigating elements of personality which influence career choice have used the Five-Factor theory of personality with limited success, perhaps from reliance on its broad factors rather than on specific facets within those factors. Practising teachers with up to three years’ experience were interviewed to identify personality traits they thought important for teachers. A cohort of 74 volunteer trainee teachers in their third year of a four year course completed questionnaires designed to identify influential personality facets and teaching commitment. Specific facets rather than broad personality factors were more successful in identifying personality traits possessed by the trainee teachers. Prospective teachers scored high on the following facets: competence, dutifulness, achievement-striving, self-discipline (facets of the Conscientiousness factor); warmth, gregariousness, positive emotions (facets of the Extraversion factor); straightforwardness, altruism, compliance and tender- mindedness (facets of the Agreeableness factor). Scores were low on: modesty (a facet of the Agreeableness factor); anxiety, angry hostility and depression (facets of the Neuroticism factor). High scoring facets also correlated with teaching commitment factors of planned effort and planned commitment. These results suggest that measures of personality facets could be useful in providing guidance to prospective teachers and employers.