News Release

What drives students to take up teaching? New study explores aspirations and challenges faced by prospective teachers in Japan

The study is a valuable resource that can lead to long-term solutions for addressing teacher shortages in Japan

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Tokyo University of Science

Revealing the motivations of aspiring teachers using the FIT-Choice framework


Teaching is a challenging profession and excessive demands have contributed to teacher shortages. To address this, the study investigates the factors that drive students to pursue a career in teaching. The findings can lead to strategies for recruiting and retaining future educators.

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Credit: barbourians from Openverse

As role models and mentors for the youth, teachers play an important role in guiding children into well-rounded adults. However, excessive workloads and high skill expectations have allegedly led to teacher shortages in Japan. In 2022, the Ministry of Education Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) reported a record low in applicants for primary school teaching positions, and a survey from the same year revealed that 65.8% of 924 full-time educators expressed a desire to quit due to overwhelming demands.

To address the teacher shortage, Associate Professor Akihiro Saito from Tokyo University of Science Institute of Arts and Sciences wanted to better understand the motivations and factors influencing an individual’s decision to pursue a career in teaching.

“I have seen many students drop out of teaching programs or take a job other than teaching even after obtaining their teaching license. By understanding the motivations and career perceptions of students, we can develop strategies for recruiting and retaining educators,” says Dr. Saito. 

In a study published in the International Journal of Educational Research Open on 5 February 2024, Dr. Saito modified The Factors Influencing Teaching Choice (FIT-Choice) framework to assess the motivations of undergraduate students pursuing a four-year Bachelor of Arts (BA) program in primary and secondary education.

The FIT-Choice framework, initially developed for Australian pre-service teacher education candidates, considers 18 factors, including 12 motivations and 6 perception factors, that contribute to shaping an individual's choice in teaching. Motivations for becoming a teacher include personal success factors (job security, family time, and job transferability), altruistic motivations (desire for social contribution and working with children), an individual's perception of their teaching ability, the career value, whether they view teaching as a fallback option, social influences, and past school experiences. Perception factors, on the other hand, consider the difficulty of the job, the social status and salary associated with teaching, social dissuasions against teaching, and the overall fulfillment derived from teaching.

From the responses of 202 students, the study finds that Japanese students pursue a teaching career mostly due to a positive school experience, followed by a perceived intrinsic value in teaching and a strong desire to work with children and adolescents. Social influences and the idea of teaching as a fallback career were found to be the least significant motivations driving their choice. Students who decided to become teachers early on appreciated the specialized skills required for the profession and were satisfied with their career choice. However, the demanding skills also led some students to consider alternative career paths outside of teaching.

While the findings do not offer immediate solutions for the teacher shortages and hiring challenges, they shed light on the motivations and obstacles faced by aspiring teachers. “By providing a versatile scale for understanding the motivations of students who wish to become teachers and their perceptions of the teaching profession, the results of this research will help to understand the perceptions of the parties behind the problems,” says Dr. Saito.

These insights can lead to long-term solutions to address teacher challenges, such as developing more effective teacher training programs, cultivating teaching as a genuinely fulfilling career, and implementing recruitment strategies to attract those with a passion for teaching.




Title of original paper: I chose to receive teacher training because …” Motivations for teaching and career aspirations among teacher education students in Japan

Journal: International Journal of Educational Research Open



About The Tokyo University of Science

Tokyo University of Science (TUS) is a well-known and respected university, and the largest science-specialized private research university in Japan, with four campuses in central Tokyo and its suburbs and in Hokkaido. Established in 1881, the university has continually contributed to Japan's development in science through inculcating the love for science in researchers, technicians, and educators.

With a mission of “Creating science and technology for the harmonious development of nature, human beings, and society," TUS has undertaken a wide range of research from basic to applied science. TUS has embraced a multidisciplinary approach to research and undertaken intensive study in some of today's most vital fields. TUS is a meritocracy where the best in science is recognized and nurtured. It is the only private university in Japan that has produced a Nobel Prize winner and the only private university in Asia to produce Nobel Prize winners within the natural sciences field.



About Associate Professor Akihiro Saito from Tokyo University of Science

Akihiro Saito is an Associate Professor at Tokyo University of Science, specializing in foreign language education. He holds a Doctoral Degree from the University of Southern Queensland and a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education from Swinburne University of Technology. He conducts research in foreign language education, with a focus on learner perception, language education policy, and discourse. He has published articles in reputable journals such as the International Journal of Applied Linguistics (Wiley-Blackwell) and System (Elsevier), among others. He is currently an Associate Editor for Psychology of Language and Communication (De Gruyter).

Official TUS website


Funding information

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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