An exploration of the relationship between resilience and commitment to teaching across Montana agricultural educator career stages
Toft, Joshua Thomas
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The purpose of this study was to fill an identified research gap between resilience and commitment to teaching and establish whether a relationship between these two factors exists across educator career stages. This study used a mixed methods research design, beginning with a quantitative survey instrument examining resilience and commitment to teaching. The survey was delivered to all Montana agricultural educators in each defined career stage (pre-service, early, mid, and late). All quantitative data was analyzed using Excel. A purposive sample of participants was selected for further qualitative analysis via semi-structured interviews. Interviews were delivered face-to-face and over the phone, with audio recordings and field notes used for data collection. Data analysis was completed for quantitative and qualitative data separately, with analysis of variance (ANOVA) and correlation analyses used for quantitative data and thematic analysis used for qualitative data. The two analyses were integrated, with the qualitative analysis used to help explain and support the results of the quantitative data analysis. Results from the survey revealed no statistically significant differences in mean resilience scores; however, a significant mean difference was identified between the commitment to teaching scores of pre-service and early-career educators. Subsequent interviews revealed four prevalent themes: (1) distinct purpose, (2) lifelong learners, (3) focusing on the good, and (4) strong support systems. A statistically significant difference in commitment to teaching scores between pre-service and early-career educators was discovered and linked, using interview data, to the presence or absence of strong support systems. A significant correlation between resilience and commitment to teaching was also observed, though the low strength of the correlation was suggestive of the complexity of both concepts. Interviews revealed noticeable discrepancies in perceived resilience between quantitative and qualitative measures, leading to a recommendation for an updated and educator specific instrument for evaluating resilience. Lastly, a suggested relationship, particularly among experienced educators, between prior successes and their resilience and commitment to teaching was discovered. It was therefore recommended teacher educators design programs to help pre-service and early-career educators develop a bank of successes to draw on as they begin their teaching career.