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Freedom of work-related choices and work-attachment : an exploratory study of secondary teachers Akhtar, M. Mumtaz

Abstract

The balance between freedom and constraint in the work situation lies at the core of interests in this study. The primary aim of the study is to examine among secondary school teachers in British Columbia the relationship between their attachment to work (i.e., the tendency to engage in their job consistently and continuously) and their personal assessments of freedom of choice concerning their (a) occupation, (b) working conditions, and (c) discretion in the work process. The study also deals with the impact that work-attachment has on the extent to which teachers (a) establish collegial friendship ties and (b) place special emphasis on student relations in instructional matters. Data for the study are based on self-administered questionnaires from 224 secondary school teachers in British Columbia collected during the academic year 1972-73. Supplementary data are provided by written comments of respondents toward the questionnaire, follow-up conversations with selected respondents, and observations of the teachers themselves in the classroom, staff rooms, and staff meetings. The data suggest that the relationship between any of the independent freedom-of-choice variables and work-attachment is generally contingent upon the teacher's age, sex, and size of school district in which he or she is located. Specifically, the findings indicate that (a) a high degree of freedom concerning choice of occupation is substantially related to work-attachment among young teachers (22-35 years) and among women teachers; (b) the original weak relationship between choice of working conditions and work-attachment was not greatly altered under the same controls for age, sex, or school district size; and (c) the relationship between work-discretion and work-attachment was substantially strengthened among teachers located in larger school districts. The data also show that women teachers and teachers. In. large-school districts who indicate a high degree of work-attachment tend to establish stronger collegial friendship ties. The impact of work-attachment on the teacher's tendency to emphasize student relations in. instructional matters is evident only in the case of the relatively older (36-65 years) teachers. Both theoretical and practical implications of the findings are assessed, and suggestions for extended research are specified.

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