Biology Teachers' Perceptions of Satisfaction:The Mediating Effects of Workplace Conditions and Epistemological Beliefs
Parham, Carol S
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National policy discourses have placed biology at the heart of the Nation's goal to achieve a global knowledge-based economy. However, researchers are finding educational trends of increasing biology teacher shortfalls which may undermine the achievement of that goal (National Science Board [NSB], 2012). Indeed, researchers have found science teacher shortages have been inexorably tied to many U. S. educational and societal problems, such as the goal of maintaining global economic competitiveness with other nations (National Academy of Sciences [NAS], 2007). On the other hand, in addition to research findings of the large science teacher shortfalls, researchers have found biology teachers' perceptions of satisfaction have a high correlation with retention. As a result, it appears critical to maximize the needed retention of biology teachers by increasing teachers' perceived levels of job satisfaction. Over the years, educational researchers have investigated science teacher perceptions of satisfaction as discrete units of workplace conditions or ii epistemological views. Researchers have given little attention to the relationship between school workplace conditions and the epistemological belief system of biology teachers regarding their views on the nature of teaching and learning, which may contribute to high levels of perceived satisfaction and commitment to their schools. The purpose of this study is to examine the dynamic interactions between these factors to identify the positive and negative influences on biology teachers' perceptions of satisfaction, thusly impacting teachers' practice behaviors, motivation, and commitment to the profession. School systems share many features with large organizations; therefore the design of this study utilized prior research from industry on stress affecting employee perceptions of satisfaction in the workplace. From organizational literature, Kristof-Brown et al.'s (2005) organizational model of person to environmental fit is adapted to illustrate the interactive flow between teachers' personally held epistemic beliefs systems with extant school workplace conditions. A review of literature suggested there are four workplace conditions most salient to biology teachers' perceptions of satisfaction; administrative support, student discipline, collegiality, and accountability along with three predominant epistemological beliefs of realism, contextualism, and relativism which formed the basis of the study. For this qualitative case study a semi-structured interview developed by Luft and Roehrig (2007) is utilized. The Teacher Belief Interview (2007) questions are designed to capture the epistemological beliefs of biology teachers.