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Crossroads: A longitudinal study of Swedish teacher attrition. The first five years
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2014 (English)In: Abstracts. Teachers Matter - But How? Linnæus University, Växjö, October 23-24, 2014, 2014Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

A growing international trend in policy emphasizes the relationship between the competitiveness of a state and the quality of its educational system. Excellent teachers are a fundamental requirement in such reasoning and increasing efforts to provide students with such have become a challenging world-wide quest. In 2020, the Swedish educational system will, according to national statistics, lack roughly 22 000 teachers, approximately 20 % of the teaching workforce.

The most common measure to overcome such a shortage of teachers is to try to increase recruitment into the profession. However, statistical findings also indicate that the major problem is not a shortage of teachers coming into the system. The real problem is that it appears as if many of the newly graduated choose not to go in to teaching at all or to leave after just a few years. These observations hint at a different kind of measure to remedy the shortage: It may be a more efficient strategy to put in an effort to retain and support active teachers, or to attract teachers who quit or never started teaching to return to the profession. As Richard Ingersoll has put it metaphorically, it is better to patch the holes in the bucket before trying to fill it up.

The ambition in this presentation is to take a closer look at the holes in the bucket by presenting data from a longitudinal study of Swedish teachers. What do the holes look like? When do they occur? Is there a flow in-and-out? Can we detect possibilities to plug the leaks?

Through a unique material consisting of mail correspondence between a group of Swedish teacher graduates and their former teacher educator - starting in 1993 - continuing for more than 15 years and followed up by additional questionnaires and interviews, we face the opportunity to follow 87 teachers during their first 20 years after graduation. The study is an attempt to fill up what has often been pointed out as a gap in research on teachers’ career trajectories - the need for qualitative longitudinal studies. Data has been collected on ten occasions. The percentage of answers is extremely high (83-100 %). The project is funded by the Swedish research council.

In the presentation we focus on the teacher’s attrition the first five years. The teacher’s trajectories during this period are described with the help of mixing quantitative data with individual narratives. Data from the cohort has also been put in relation to general statistical overviews on teacher attrition. The analysis indicates that we should be cautious when we interpret and make use of general statistics. Teacher attrition seems to be a more non-linear and complex phenomenon than what is often presented. Drop-outs are in many cases temporary. Individuals are leaving from, but also returning to, the profession over time and their out of school experiences can in many cases be understood as individual initiatives to enhance teacher ability in the long run.

References

Cooper, J.M. & Alvarado, A. (2006). Preparation, recruitment and retention of teachers. UNESCO, IIEP Education policy series No. 5.

Hammerness, K. (2008). “If You Don’t Know Where You are Going, Any Path Will Do”: The Role of Teachers’ Visions in Teacher’ career Paths. The New Educator, 4:1, pp. 1–22.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014.
National Category
Pedagogy Educational Sciences
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-43850OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-43850DiVA: diva2:818576
Conference
Teachers Matter - But How? Linnæus University, Växjö, October 23-24, 2014
Available from: 2015-06-09 Created: 2015-06-09 Last updated: 2016-04-08Bibliographically approved

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Lindqvist, PerNordänger, Ulla Karin
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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
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  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
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Output format
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  • asciidoc
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