Factors influencing choosing teaching as a career: South Korean preservice teachers

  • Jeong-Ae Lee
  • Mi Ok KangEmail author
  • Bitnara Jasmine Park


This study validated the underlying factor structure of the Factors Influencing Teaching (FIT)-Choice survey in the South Korea context and examined motivations and perceptions of 903 Korean preservice teachers by major demographic characteristics. Secondary preservice teachers reported significantly higher values than elementary preservice teachers for Qualification fit and desire to teach and Task return. Male preservice teachers believed more strongly than female preservice teachers that they chose the teaching profession because of Qualification fit, Influencing others, and Task return. Compared to freshmen/sophomores, juniors/seniors reported significantly higher values for Task demand. Participants with low- to medium-level self-reported income ($12K–$46K) weighted Benefits significantly higher than those with medium-level income ($46K–$88K). STEM majors reported higher values for the Qualification fit and Influencing others than non-STEM majors. As South Korea is one of the few countries which has an oversupply of highly qualified teacher candidates, findings were compared with other countries to provide useful insights to improve recruitment of highly qualified individuals to teaching workforce in many countries where teacher shortage is a chronic problem. Based on these data analyses, we argue that policy makers, politicians, education researchers, and others who care about quality education and student academic achievements need to make efforts to increase task returns and benefits.


Preservice teachers FIT-choice Teacher recruitment Motivation Perception Teacher education 



Funding was provided by Chonbuk National University.


  1. Barber, M., & Mourshed, M. (2007). How the world’s best-performing school systems come out on top. Retrieved from
  2. Bastick, T. (2000). Why teacher trainees chose the teaching profession: Comparing trainees in metropolitan and developing countries. International Review of Education, 6(3), 343–349.Google Scholar
  3. Berger, J.-L., & D’Ascoli, Y. (2012). Becoming a VET teacher as a second career: Investigating the determinants of career choice and their relation to perceptions about prior occupation. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 40, 317–341.Google Scholar
  4. Berger, J.-L., Girardet, C., Vaudroz, C., & Aprea, C. (2017). The motivational basis of classroom management practices and beliefs of Swiss vocational teachers. Global Perspectives on Teacher Motivation (pp. 126–157). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Brandmo, C., & Nesje, K. (2017). Factors motivating students to become secondary school teachers: Evidence from Norway. In H. G. Watt, P. W. Richardson & K. Smith (Eds.), Global Perspectives on Teacher Motivation (pp. 95–125). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Brookheart, S. M., & Freeman, D. J. (1992). Characteristics of entering teacher candidates. Review of Education Research, 62, 37–60.Google Scholar
  7. Chang, H. S., & Lee, H. J. (2011). Exploring preservice science teachers’ motivation for career choice and their self-image as a science teacher. Korean Science Education Journal, 31(1), 14–31.Google Scholar
  8. Cronbach, L. J. (1951). Coefficient alpha and the internal structure of tests. Psychometrika, 16(3), 297–334. Scholar
  9. Dolton, P., & Marcenaro-Gutierrez, O. D. (2011). If you pay peanuts do you get monkeys? A cross-country analysis of teacher pay and pupil performance. Economic Policy, 26(1), 5–55. Scholar
  10. Eccles, J. S. (2005). Studying gender and ethnic differences in participation in math, physical science, and information technology. New Directions in Child and Adolescent Development, 110(Winter), 7–14.Google Scholar
  11. Eccles, J. S., Adler, T. F., Futterman, R., Goff, S. B., Kaczala, C. M., Meece, J. L., et al. (1983). Expectancies, values, and academic behaviors. In J. T. Spence (Ed.), Achievement and achievement motivation (pp. 75–146). San Francisco: Freeman.Google Scholar
  12. Eren, A., & Tezel, K. V. (2010). Factors influencing teaching choice, professional plans about teaching, and future time perspective: A mediational analysis. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(7), 1416–1428.Google Scholar
  13. Eren, A., & Yeşilbursa, A. (2017). Exploring the relationships between prospective Turkish teachers’ hopes, motivations and professional plans. In H. G. Watt, P. W. Richardson & K. Smith (Eds.), Global perspectives on teacher motivation (pp. 248–296). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Fokkens-Bruinsma, M., & Canrinus, E. T. (2012). The factors influencing teaching (FIT)-Choice scale in a Dutch teacher education program. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 40(3), 249–269.Google Scholar
  15. Gratacós, G., López-Gómez, E., Nicito, G., & Sastre, S. (2017). Why teach? Antecedents and consequences in Spain. In H. M. G. Watt, P. W. Richardson & K. Smith (Eds.), Global Perspectives on Teacher Motivation (pp. 55–94). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Han, S. W., Borgonovi, F., & Guerriero, S. (2018). What motivates high school students to want to be teachers? The role of salary, working conditions, and societal evaluations about occupations in a comparative perspective. American Education Research Journal, 55(1), 3–39.Google Scholar
  17. Hanushek, E., Piopiunik, M., & Wiederhold, S. (2014). The value of smarter teachers: International evidence on teacher cognitive skills and student performance. Cambridge: National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  18. Heinz, M., Keane, E., & Foley, C. (2017). Career motivations of student teachers in the Republic of Ireland: Continuity and change during educational reform and “boom to bust” economic times. In H. G. Watt, P. W. Richardson & K. Smith (Eds.), Global Perspectives on Teacher Motivation (pp. 22–49). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Heo, S. (2016). Characteristics of choosing teaching as a career among history preservice teachers. [in Korean]. Student-Centered Curriculum Studies, 16(2), 1103–1122.Google Scholar
  20. Hu, L. T., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 6(1), 1–55.Google Scholar
  21. Hwang, J. (1999). [Open Discussion] Develop attractive plans for better working conditions to remedy male teacher shortage. [in Korean]. JungAng Newspaper. Retrieved from
  22. IBM Corp. (2016). IBM SPSS statistics for Windows (Ver. 24.0). Armonk: IBM Corp.Google Scholar
  23. Jang, C. H., Kim, J. H., & Kim, J. H. (1992). Perceptions and attitudes on teaching among elementary preservice teachers. [in Korean]. Journal of Student Guidance, 18, 51–75.Google Scholar
  24. Jantzen, J. M. (1981). Why college students choose to teach: A longitudinal study. Journal of Teacher Education, 32(2), 45–49. Scholar
  25. Jugović, I., Marusić, I., & Vidovic, V. V. (2012). Motivation and personality of preservice teachers in Croatia. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 40(3), 271–287.Google Scholar
  26. Jun, Y. C., Myung, S. W., & Sim, H. Y. (2006). Computer education curriculum and instruction: Computer pre-service preservice teachers’ motivations of entering college of education, pedagogical content Knowledge, study of subject matter, and vision formation. [in Korean]. Computer Education in Korea, 9(3), 13–28.Google Scholar
  27. Kılınç, A., Watt, M. G., & Richardson, P. W. (2012). Factors influencing teaching choice in Turkey. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 40(3), 199–226.Google Scholar
  28. Kim, E. G. (2014). Results of “the 2013 international analysis of teachers’ social status index” and implications to Korean policy of teachers. [in Korean]. Korean Educational Development Institute. Retrieved from
  29. Kim, E. K., & Han, S. I. (2006). Factor analysis on motivations to choose teaching as a career among secondary preservice teachers: Case of mathematics teachers. [in Korean]. Korean Education, 33(2), 51–73.Google Scholar
  30. Kim, E. K., & Han, Y. K. (2002). Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers: Background report for Korea R&B report. KEDI. [in Korean]. Retrieved from
  31. Kim, H. (March 4, 2011). [Human & Issue] Any solutions for rapid overflow of females in the teaching pool. Seoul Newspaper. Retrieved from
  32. Kim, H. K., Ko, D. H., Kim, Y. B., & Choi, S. S. (2015). Studies on conflicts caused by socio-economic stratification in South Korea and resolution strategies. [in Korean]. Presidential Committee for National Cohesion (PCNC) R&B Report. Retrieved from
  33. Kim, N. (1995). A study on the attitude of teaching college students. [in Korean]. Korean Teacher Education, 11, 133–154.Google Scholar
  34. Kim, N. (2003). A study on the attitude of teaching college students. [in Korean]. Journal of School Guidance, 22(1), 103–116.Google Scholar
  35. Kim, Y. (1979). A Study on economic status of teachers in Inchon city [in Korean]. Collections of Studies in Education, 10, 105–126.Google Scholar
  36. König, J., & Rothland, M. (2012). Motivations for choosing teaching as a career: Effects on general pedagogical knowledge during initial teacher education. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 40(3), 289–315.Google Scholar
  37. Korean Educational Statistics Service (KESS). (2017). Basic statistics on schools. [in Korean]. Retrieved from
  38. Korean Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE). (2016). National level tests. [in Korean]. Retrieved from
  39. Korean Statistical Information Service (KOSIS). (2017). Census 2016. [in Korean]. Retrieved from
  40. Kunter, M., Tsai, Y.-M., Klusmann, U., Brunner, M., Krauss, S., & Baumert, J. (2008). Students’ and mathematics teachers’ perceptions of teacher enthusiasm and instruction. Learning and Instruction, 18, 468–482.Google Scholar
  41. Kye, B. H., & Hwang, S. J. (2017). Changes in occupational status evaluation in South Korea: 1990–2016. [in Korean]. Statistics Studies, 22(3), 121–140.Google Scholar
  42. Lauermann, F., Karabenick, S. A., Carpenter, R., & Kuusinen, C. (2017). Teacher motivation and professional commitment in the United States: The role of motivations for teaching, teacher self-efficacy and sense of professional responsibility. In H. G. Watt, P. W. Richardson & K. Smith (Eds.), Global Perspectives on Teacher Motivation (pp. 322–348). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Lee, Y. (May 27, 2007). Teachers rated high on their social contribution, but think their socio-economic status is low. No Cut News. Retrieved from
  44. Lent, R., Lopez, F. G., & Bieschke, K. J. (1993). Predicting mathematics-related choice and success behaviors: Test of an expanded social cognitive model. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 42, 223–236.Google Scholar
  45. Lent, R. W., Brown, S. D., & Hackett, G. (1994). Toward a unifying social cognitive theory of career and academic interest, choice, and performance [Monograph]. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 45, 79–122.Google Scholar
  46. Lin, E., Shi, Q., Wang, J., Zhang, S., & Hui, L. (2012). Initial motivations for teaching: Comparison between preservice teachers in the United States and China. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 40(3), 227–248.Google Scholar
  47. Marušić, I., Jugović, I., & Ivanec, T. P. (2017). How personality dimensions and motivation to teach shape the learning achievement goals of Croatian future teachers. In H. G. Watt, P. W. Richardson & K. Smith (Eds.), Global Perspectives on Teacher Motivation (pp. 220–242). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Meroni, E. C., Vera-Toscano, E., & Costa, P. (2015). Can low skill teachers make good students? Empirical evidence from PIAAC and PISA. Journal of Policy Modeling, 37(2), 308–323.Google Scholar
  49. Ministry of Education. (2015). Current trends of teacher training programs. Sejong-shi: Ministry of Education School Policy Department. [in Korean].Google Scholar
  50. Ministry of Education (2016). Elementary and secondary education: Graduation rates. [In Korean]. Retrieved from
  51. Moran, A., Kilpatrick, R., Abbott, L., Dallatt, J., & McClune, B. (2001). Training to teach: Motivating factors and implications for recruitment. Evaluation and Research in Education, 15, 17–32.Google Scholar
  52. Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998–2012). Mplus user’s guide (7th ed.). Los Angeles: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
  53. Na, H. Y. (2009). Motivations for choosing human geography, knowledge of the subject, and inner vision among secondary preservice teachers. [in Korean]. Master’s thesis in Ewha Women’s University.Google Scholar
  54. National Tax Service. (2017). Individual income tax index. Retrieved from
  55. Neittaanmäki, L., Gross, E. B., Virjo, I., Hyppölä, H., & Kumpusalo, B. (1999). Personal values of male and female doctors: Gender aspects. Social Science & Medicine, 48, 559–568.Google Scholar
  56. Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofested). (2001). The annual report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools: Standards and qualify in education 2000/01. London: Office of Standards in Education.Google Scholar
  57. Oh, D. H. (2016). “What percentage of quintile my salary is placed?”… 3,200 of average individual income. Money Today. Retrieved from
  58. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD]. (2011). Building a high-quality teaching profession: Lessons from around the world. Background report for the international summit on the teaching profession. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  59. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD]. (2013). Education at a glance 2013: Indicators and annexes. Retrieved from
  60. Richardson, P. W., & Watt, H. M. G. (2005). ‘I’ve decided to become a teacher’: Influences on career change. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21, 475–489. Scholar
  61. Richardson, P. W., & Watt, H. M. G. (2006). Who chooses teaching and why? Profiling characteristics and motivations across three Australian universities. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 34, 27–56.Google Scholar
  62. Robertson, S., Keith, T., & Page, E. (1983). Now who aspires to teach? Educational Researcher, 12(6), 13–21.Google Scholar
  63. Saban, A. (2003). Turkish profile of prospective elementary school teachers and their views of teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 19(8), 829–846.Google Scholar
  64. Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education [SMOE]. (2018). Notice on final successful candidates at the 2018 teacher recruitment examination. [in Korean] Retrieved from
  65. Song, Y. (1984). A survey of the C.T.C. Students’ angles on the teaching profession [in Korean]. The Studies of Student Guidance, 7, 55–80.Google Scholar
  66. Strauss, V. (May 14, 2017). In Arizona, teachers can now be hired with absolutely no training in how to teach. The Washington Post. Retrieved from
  67. Suryani, A. (2017). Motivations and aspirations of teacher education students in Indonesia. In H. G. Watt, P. W. Richardson & K. Smith (Eds.), Global Perspectives on Teacher Motivation (pp. 297–321). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  68. Taimalu, M., Luik, P., & Täht, K. (2017). Teaching motivations and perceptions during the first year of teacher education in Estonia. In H. G. Watt, P. W. Richardsoon & K. Smith (Eds.), Global Perspectives on Teacher Motivation (pp. 189–220). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  69. Tatto, M. T. (October, 2003). Report on the P-Teacher Education and Development Study (P-TEDS) Report of the East Lansing Meeting.Google Scholar
  70. Tatto, M. T. (February, 2004). Report on the P-Teacher Education and Development Study (P-TEDS) Mexico City.Google Scholar
  71. Varkey, G. E. M. S., & Foundation (2013). Global teacher status index. Retrieved from
  72. Vegas, E., Murnane, R. J., & Willett, J. B. (2001). From high school to teaching: Many steps, who makes it? Teachers College Record, 103(3), 427–449.Google Scholar
  73. Watt, H. G., Richardson, P. W., & Smith, K. (2017). Global perspectives on teacher motivation. New York: Cambridge University Press: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  74. Watt, H. M. G., & Richardson, P. W. (2007). Motivational factors influencing teaching as a career choice: Development and validation of the FIT-Choice scale. Journal of Experimental Education, 75, 167–202.Google Scholar
  75. Watt, H. M. G., & Richardson, P. W. (2008). Motivations, perceptions, and aspirations concerning teaching as a career for different types of beginning teachers. Learning and Instruction, 18, 408–428.Google Scholar
  76. Watt, H. M. G., Richardson, P. W., Klusmann, U., Kunter, M., Beyer, B., Trautwein, U., & Baumert, J. (2012). Motivations for choosing teaching as a career: An international comparison using the FIT-Choice scale. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28, 791–805.Google Scholar
  77. Watt, H. M. G., Richardson, P. W., & Pietsch, J. (2009). Choosing to teach in the “STEM” disciplines: Characteristics and motivations of Science, Technology, and Mathematics teachers from Australia and the United States. In A. Selkirk & M. Tchoenor (Eds.), Teacher education: Policy, practice, and research (pp. 285–309). New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.Google Scholar
  78. Yong, B. C. S. (1995). Teacher trainees’ motives for entering into a teaching career in Brunei Darus salam. Teaching and Teacher Education, 11, 275–280.Google Scholar
  79. Yoo, H. J., Chung, T. I., & Kim, W. H. (2010). Perception and determinants of teachers’ social and economic status in Korea. The Journal of Korean Education, 37(1), 83–111. [in Korean].Google Scholar
  80. Yoon, I. K. (2017). 2018 final competition rates for the secondary public school secondary teacher recruitment exams. [in Korean]. Retrieved from
  81. Yűce, K., Şahin, E. Y., Koçer, Ö, & Kana, F. (2013). Motivations for choosing teaching as a career: A perspective of pre-service teachers from a Turkish context. Asia-Pacific Education Review, 14(3), 295–306.Google Scholar
  82. Yum, J., & Park, S. (2013). Studies on the disparities in the status of private teachers. The Private Secondary School Teachers Association. [in Korean]. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© Education Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeong-Ae Lee
    • 1
  • Mi Ok Kang
    • 2
    Email author
  • Bitnara Jasmine Park
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Korean Education, College of EducationChonbuk National UniversityJeonju-si, Jeollabuk-doRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Elementary Education, School of EducationUtah Valley UniversityOremUSA
  3. 3.American Institutes for ResearchWashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations