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Job Satisfaction, Organizational Commitment and Turnover Intention of K12 Online Teachers

Ingle Larkin (Kennesaw State University & Cobb County School District, USA)
Anissa Lokey-Vega (Kennesaw State University & Bagwell College of Education, USA)
Session Information
October 16, 2015 - 10:45am
Faculty and Professional Development & Support
Areas of Special Interest: 
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Research Study
Institutional Level: 
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Southern Hemisphere III
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 10
Virtual Session

This mixed-methods study seeks to identify pressing factors influencing K-12 online teacher job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and intent to stay or leave online education.

Extended Abstract

As more K-12 students and school districts make the move to online platforms for teaching and learning, various modes of online education have emerged, including state, local, private, and nonprofit agencies, all varying in the extent and type of content offered (Archambault & Crippen, 2009). With online student enrollment increasing each year, there is an increased demand for qualified online teachers to meet the growing demands of 21st century learners. However, our nation is continuously faced with the threat of increasing teacher shortages resulting from a combination of retiring teachers, increasing student enrollment, and teachers leaving the profession to pursue other careers (AEE, 2014; Ingersoll, Merrill, & Stuckey, 2014; Riley, 1999). New teachers are leaving the classroom at a rate of 30-50% within three to five years of entering the field of education to pursue other careers, and in some cases, attrition is outpacing retention (AEE, 2014; Darling-Hammond, 2001; Dawson, 2001; Ewing & Manuel, 2005; Ingersoll 2002; Ingersoll, Merrill, & Stuckey, 2014). When considering the long-term trajectory of online learning, employing and retaining a critical body of K-12 online teachers becomes a pressing concern and establishes a need to investigate how satisfied and committed teachers are with their jobs and their intent to remain employed in the K-12 online setting.

Theoretical Framework:
This study is grounded in two prominent academic theories: Job Satisfaction Theory and Organizational Commitment Theory. These dual lenses serve as the conceptual foundation to frame the discussion of K-12 online teacher job satisfaction and organizational commitment as it relates to their intent to remain teaching in this particular setting. Explanation of these two theories and how they influenced the data collection and analysis of this study will be shared during the presentation.
The purpose of this study is to determine the level of job satisfaction of southeastern K-12 online teachers and to identify what variables contribute to job satisfaction or dissatisfaction. The researchers also assessed online teachers' organizational commitment and intent to remain teaching in the K-12 online setting.

Research Questions:
1. How satisfied are K-12 online teachers with their jobs?
a. What are the critical factors influencing job satisfaction among K-12 online teachers?
b. What are the critical factors influencing job dissatisfaction among K-12 online teachers?
c. Is there a correlation between job satisfaction and intent to remain?

2. What is the level of organizational commitment of K-12 online teachers?
a. Is there a correlation between job satisfaction and organizational commitment?
b. Is there a correlation between intent to remain and organizational commitment?

This study employs a mixed methods research paradigm (Johnson, Onwuegbuzie, & Turner, 2007). The researchers used a sequential explanatory design by collecting and analyzing quantitative survey data and then qualitative focus group data in two consecutive phases within one study.

Phase One - Quantitative
Teacher participants completed an online survey that addressed study questions related to online teacher's job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and intent to remain. The Job Satisfaction and Organizational Commitment portions of the survey instrument employed a 5-point Likert scale with the following anchors: (5) strongly agree, (4) agree, (3) neither agree nor disagree, (2) disagree, (1) strongly disagree. Survey items that are worded negatively were reverse scored to ensure that all data is pointing in the same direction so that analysis regarding satisfaction, dissatisfaction, and commitment can be accurately interpreted.

Upon completion of data collection, the researchers will use a logistical regression model to determine the relationship between turnover intentions and the independent variables of satisfaction and commitment. The logistical regression dependent variable is dichotomous, meaning that it has two discrete values; in this study, the two values of the dependent variables will be measured as intent to remain (1) versus intent to leave (0). This particular analysis design will enable the researchers to compare significance between satisfaction, commitment, and turnover intention variables and to create a predictive model based on the maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) (Vogt, 2007).

Phase Two - Qualitative
Upon completion of the quantitative survey, participants may elect to engage in a synchronous online focus group discussion about variables influencing job satisfaction and commitment in the realm of K-12 online teaching and expound up findings from the quantitative phase.

The focus group was audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The transcript was imported into the software system ATLAS.ti for management and codification of the data. The data was analyzed using a constant comparative method, which compares one segment of data with another to determine similarities and differences (Glesne, 2011; Merriam, 2009).

The survey elicited participation from 108 part-time and full-time K-12 online teachers in a Southeastern state. The respondents were employed at five different schools, including state, district, charter, and private online schools. Preliminary results indicate that 89% of respondents are satisfied or very satisfied with their position as an online teacher. Overall, teachers expressed satisfaction with the flexibility, technology reliability, training, and accessibility of courses to both the instructors and students, and lack of student discipline issues. Teachers reported lower levels of satisfaction with workload, compensation, quality of student work, and student interaction.

Perhaps most significantly, 95% of K-12 online teachers intend to remain teaching online in the immediate future, and 85% foresee still teaching online in five years time. Additionally, 77% of online teachers reported they would be happy to teach online for the remainder of their career. These numbers are significantly higher and more promising than the attrition rate of traditional K-12 teachers, thus creating a positive outlook for the sustainability of K-12 online teaching and learning. Additional survey and focus group results will be shared during the presentation.

Analysis continues through the summer of 2015, with the final results available at the conference. In support of online school leaders seeking to retain K-12 online teachers, this study will illuminate teacher perceptions of key strategies online schools can address to improve teacher satisfaction and retention.