Problems of beginning teachers at the secondary level

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Gerald M. Mager


Beginning teachers, Mentoring

Subject Categories

Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration | Secondary Education and Teaching


Novice teachers face many challenges and often have many problems. Teaching is a profession where 30% to 50% leave teaching during the first five years (Moir & Gless, 2001). So, the early years of a teacher's experience can affect directly whether the teacher continues in teaching or seeks another career. The study of teacher problems has a long history. Common problems of beginning teachers has been the subject of numerous studies (e.g., Gratch, 1998; Hertzog, 2002; Veenman, 1984).

This study used survey methodology to answer the question: What are the types of problems experienced by novice teachers? Data are presented on how teachers rate their problems in terms of how bothersome they find them and how frequently they occur, and on which novice teachers have each type of problem. This study provides information about how novice teachers perceive problems and identifies how they address these problems.

Participants were recent graduates of a teacher preparation program (in mathematics, science, English, social studies, physical education, music, art) who were currently teaching were the intended subjects of this study. Data were collected during the 2004-2005 school year.

Results of this study are that teacher problems can be grouped into 6 categories: Teaching, Personal Matters, Outside Testing, Bureaucracy, Colleagues, and Resources. Teaching and Personal Matters were the categories with the largest number of teacher problems. Respondents reported that the Teaching and Colleagues categories may be the most troublesome of the categories because problems in these categories were reported to occur most frequently, be most bothersome, and be resolved to a lesser degree than problems in other categories. Teachers drew on various sources to resolve their problems including: talking to colleagues, taking time to relax, and altering their lessons. Patterns among which teachers reported which problems are also reported.

Implications for future research, for teacher education programs, and for teacher induction programs are drawn.


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