Solomonson, J. K., Still, S. M., Maxwell, L. D., & Barrowclough, M. J. (2022). Exploring relationships between career retention factors and personal and professional characteristics of Illinois agriculture teachers. Journal of Agricultural Education, 63(2), 119-130. https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2022.02119

Abstract: The shortage of school-based agricultural education (SBAE) teachers in the United States has been a chronic issue for decades. Besides not having sufficient graduates in our teacher preparation programs, the number of SBAE teachers annually leaving the profession further exacerbates the problem. While the reasons why SBAE teachers leave the profession are well-documented, little research has examined career retention factors and the reasons they stay. The purpose of our study was to determine the relationships between selected career retention factors and specific demographic characteristics of SBAE teachers. Using a census design, we administered an electronic questionnaire to all 432 SBAE teachers in Illinois to determine perceived levels of occupational commitment, work engagement, and work-life balance and their relationship to nine demographic characteristics. We found no significant differences among the career retention factors under investigation and sex, marital status, parental status, possessing CASE certification, length of teaching contract, and the number of teachers employed in the agriculture department. However, we did discover that occupational commitment was significantly higher for both SBAE teachers who were fully-state certified and those with an advanced degree. Further, our findings indicate late-career teachers possess significantly higher levels of occupational commitment and work engagement than those in the novice or mid-career professional life stages. A large, positive relationship was found between levels of work engagement and occupational commitment. Two small, negative relationships existed between perceived levels to achieve a work-life balance and both work engagement and occupational commitment. Recommendations for practitioners and researchers are provided.

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