Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (College of Education)

Schools and Centres


First Supervisor

Associate Professor Anne Coffey

Second Supervisor

Associate Professor Shane Lavery


The purpose of this research was to review the ways in which Year 12 Catholic school students perceive teaching as a career and to explore the people, contexts and factors that have influenced these perspectives. Schools are being increasingly challenged to revisit the role of the educator in today’s rapidly changing educational landscape. Best practice teaching and learning is at the forefront of this consideration. Attracting talented and committed students to the teaching profession is crucial if schools are going to play a part in adequately teaching and preparing future generations for society (Weldon, 2015). It follows therefore that both the profession itself and the status of the profession must be appealing to passionate, committed and high-calibre students (Laming, 2019; Masters 2014; 2015; Parliament of Australia, 2019). Underpinning the purpose of this study are the beliefs that student perspectives surrounding careers lead to decisions that manifest in university course preferences and that those perspectives can be influenced.

The study was qualitative in nature with a constructivist epistemology. Interpretivism was employed as a theoretical perspective using the lens of symbolic interactionism. An instrumental case study was chosen as the research methodology. Qualitative methods of data collection were predominately employed. The methods of research included semi-structured interviews with five career counsellors, 470 Year 12 student online surveys, five Year 12 student focus group interviews, with a total of 109 students and researcher field notes. The data was analysed using the Miles and Huberman interactive model of data management and analysis (2014).

The results of the study provided responses to three specific research questions, which emanated from the literature review. The student perspectives of teaching as a career covered four themes that included the purpose of teaching, positive perspectives of teaching, negative perspectives of teaching and perspectives of the status of teaching as a career. Both the students and the career counsellors identified influences upon these perspectives. The students clearly identified experiences with teachers and students as the most significant influencers on their perspectives towards teaching as a career. The specific experiences are identified and presented iv as either positive or negative influences upon the student perspectives of teaching as a career.

As a result of the research, a conceptual design was proposed to explain the domains of influence on student perspectives of teaching as a career. The study presents the implications for the teaching profession alongside recommendations. The research proposes highly contextualised topics for further research and possible additions to the body of published literature relating to student perspectives of teaching as a career.

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