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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Public Secondary School Teachers in North Carolina: Levels of Idealism and Relativism, and their Impact on Occupational Commitment
by Smith, Kelly Diane, Ed.D., North Carolina State University, 2014, 228; 3647581
Abstract (Summary)

Secondary students in the United States are now competing in a global marketplace (Wagner, 2010). Any factor which decreases student achievement must be alleviated to permit students to reach their full academic potential. Student achievement has been negatively linked with teacher attrition (Ronfeldt, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2012): occupational commitment has also been negatively linked with attrition. Occupational commitment, therefore, is related to student achievement and success.

Ethics is commonly recognized as an integral part of education, yet there is little research on the ethical beliefs of teachers, especially on teachers at the secondary level. Previous research has established connections between occupational commitment and factors such as stress and job satisfaction. However, there has been little research that explores the connection between ethical beliefs and occupational commitment.

The purpose of the study was to explore potential connections between teachers' ethical beliefs and their occupational commitment. More specifically, North Carolina secondary teachers were surveyed to obtain information about their idealism, relativism, academic department, and occupational commitment. The theoretical framework of the study was a synthesis of ethical position theory (Forsyth, 1980), person-vocation fit, and value consonance (Rosenberg, 1977). The ethical position questionnaire (Forsyth, 1980) was used to measure teachers' idealism and relativism; the occupational commitment scales (Meyer, Allen, & Smith, 1993) were used to measure teachers' occupational commitment.

The study was expected to confirm relationships between the study variables and to identify ethical beliefs as a predictor of low occupational commitment. In fact, no significant relationships were discovered between the study variables. However, North Carolina teachers were determined to be a homogeneous group of individuals in terms of idealism and relativism. Teachers' academic department had no bearing on teachers' ethical beliefs. This observation was in contrast to previous research which had indicated the presence of subjectbased subcultures in secondary schools. Although unexpected, this finding was significant as it suggests secondary subculture is based primarily on difference in subject matter rather than on teachers' personal beliefs and values. On a more practical level, the knowledge that secondary teachers exist as a homogeneous population of ethical beliefs will enable administrators to more effectively recruit new teachers. Administrators will also be able to better predict faculty reaction to new policies and procedures with an increased understanding of their faculty's ethical beliefs.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hatcher, Tim
School: North Carolina State University
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 76/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Adult education, Teacher education, Secondary education
Keywords: Idealism, North Carolina, Occupational commitment, Public schools
Publication Number: 3647581
ISBN: 978-1-321-40903-1
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