Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Additional Departmental Affiliation

School of Teacher Education

Document Type



This qualitative study sought to examine the relationship between the motivational profiles that pushed undergraduate STEM pre-service teachers (N = 181) to enter the teaching profession and the word choice used to articulate those motivations. Through the application of a semantically-analytical lens, this study aimed to uncover preliminary patterns that could predict STEM pre-service teachers’ overall commitment levels to the completion of the STEM education major and overall certification. Written responses to the question “Why did you want to become a teacher?” were gathered from a longitudinal survey administered from spring 2011 to fall 2016 as part of the Knowing and Learning in Mathematics and Science course—a prerequisite to the remainder of the pre-service teachers’ undergraduate curricula. Findings indicated that the STEM pre service teachers who completed their certification (“stayers”) more frequently articulated a specific love for teaching, expressing commitment to the STEM education field through the use of boosters and evidentially-supported inflationary discourse devices. On the other, STEM pre-service teachers who deserted the education major prior to aquiring certification (“leavers”) used hedges and broad inflationary discourse devices to articulate a weakened overall commitment to gaining teacher certification. The findings provide evidence to support the incorporation of clinical models into the undergraduate curricula. In addition, evidence supports that university advisors who are systematically trained to interpret the semantic structures of their advisees’ written responses could use the tool to better serve those advisees’ needs.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Lisa Duffin, Dr. Jane Fife, Dr. Michael Kennedy


Education | English Language and Literature | Linguistics