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Factors related to teacher mobility in schools of the Northwest Territories and arctic Quebec, 1971-72



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This study was designed to identify factors related to the mobility of teachers in the Northwest Territories and Arctic Quebec, and to explore the relationships among dissatisfaction factors, demographic characteristics of teachers, and mobility. To obtain the data, the Teacher Mobility Questionnaire was constructed and mailed to northern teachers and to some teachers who had left the north in the past two years. The questionnaire consisted of items suggested by the literature on teacher mobility and its causes, as well as items considered appropriate from the author's previous experience in northern Canada. The study sample consisted of 32 former northern teachers and 238 teachers employed in schools of the Northwest Territories and Arctic Quebec at the time of the study. Totals represented a 36 per cent return of completed, acceptable questionnaires. The major areas of study were: a description of northern teachers on the basis of demographic characteristics; an examination of the relationships among demographic variables and mobility; identification of factors related to teacher dissatisfaction; exploration of the relationships among dissatisfaction factors and mobility; and the suggestion of the existence of "unique" northern mobility factors. Statistical procedures used to test hypotheses included correlation coefficients techniques; one-way analyses of variance; and Newman-Keuls comparisons between ordered means. It was found that in comparison to teachers of the four western provinces, those in the Northwest Territories were more likely to be: younger, males, married, originally from Saskatchewan or Ontario; holders of degrees (elementary teachers); at higher salary levels, and more mobile. Over 10 years, the general character of the northern teaching staff showed a trend towards a higher proportion of older, married men with longer training, and employed at higher salaries. The two variables which showed no appreciable change were the length of pre- northern experience, and length of tenure in northern teaching. Both fluctuated between a median of one and two years between 1960 and 1970. Median years of northern experience of teachers in the study was 2.1 years. It was found that the only demographic variables significantly related to mobility were: age, salary, position, and location of school. Although such characteristics as sex, marital status, and previous experience showed some degree of relationship to mobility, they failed to be significant factors. Items from the questionnaire were classified into six dissatisfaction factors. The factors and mean dissatisfaction score for each were: Personal and Economic, 3.001; Working Conditions, 3.200; Recruitment and Orientation, 3.142; Organizational Relationships, 3.159; Adminis tration, 3.284; Achievement, 3.612. Total mean dissatisfaction score was 3.295. Responses were on a five-point scale from (1) dissatisfaction, (2) to satisfaction. Means indicated that respondents in the study expressed more satisfaction than dissatisfaction with those factors investigated. Analysis of the relationship of dissatisfaction to demographic characteristics and mobility found that: females were more dissatisfied than males; younger teachers with fewer years in the north were more dissatisfied than slightly older teachers; primary teachers were more dissatisfied than principals, vice-principals and high school teachers; low salaried teachers were more dissatisfied than higher salaried teachers. In general, the non-mobiles appeared to be less dissatisfied than those who had left the north or intended to do so at the end of the year. It was obvious, however, from the low level of significance found in the analyses performed that dissatisfaction factors as used in this study were not the major reason for teacher mobility in the Northwest Territories and Arctic Quebec. The study was able to suggest such "unique" northern mobility factors as: lack of access to universities; the feeling of impermanence inherent in the northern living situation; isolation from social and cultural life of the south; intentions of being itinerant; difficulties of relating to culturally different pupils and community members. This study indicated a need for further examination of northern teacher mobility with a focus on those factors unique to the northern teaching and living situation.



Teacher mobility, Northern Canada



Master of Education (M.Ed.)


Educational Foundations


Educational Foundations



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