Investigating job satisfaction among early childhood teachers using self-determination theory
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 11:08 by Catherine Jones
It is widely understood that in Australia there are high levels of teacher turnover in the early childhood (EC) sector. However, what contributes to the job satisfaction of those early childhood teachers who remain committed to teaching in EC is less understood or researched. In particular there is a limited focus on understanding this effect qualitatively in the current Australian ECEC context. The aim of this study was to develop a deeper understanding of why some teachers felt satisfied in their role, what inspired them to remain in the sector and what was happening in their workplaces that supported their work. This study also tested the validity of Deci and Ryan’s (1985) Self-Determination Theory as a theoretical framework for understanding teacher motivation and job satisfaction. Data occurred in two phases. An online survey was completed by 229 EC teachers working in LDC centres across Australia, who held face-to-face teaching responsibilities. In phase 2, in-depth interviews were conducted with 10 of these teachers who reported high levels of job satisfaction and a low intention to turnover in the on-line survey. Of these teachers, two of their directors were also interviewed and artifacts, including centre philosophy documents were collected for analysis. An analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data resulted in the emergence of three key themes influencing teacher job satisfaction: 1) A culture of continual learning, 2) A living philosophy and 3) A meaningful experience at work. Findings from this study have implications for the early childhood sector at both policy and centre levels, with a particular focus on leadership and organisational strategies to enhance EC teacher job satisfaction.