Kang, Rui (2007-08). PK-8 preservice teachers' intentions to teach economics: an application of the theory of reasoned action and the theory of planned behavior. Doctoral Dissertation.
In response to the growing interests in K-12 economic education among politicians and educators, this study was designed to fill in the gaps created by limited research in preservice teachers' attitudes and intentions regarding the teaching of economics at the elementary and middle-school levels. Specifically, the purposes of this study were to identify significant predictors of PK-8 preservice teachers' intentions to teach economics and to examine the effects of an educational intervention on preservice teachers' intentions and attitudes pertaining to the teaching of economics. Fishbein and Ajzen's theory of reasoned action (TRA) and Ajzen's theory of planned behavior (TPB) served as the theoretical bases of this research. Quantitative data collected through a self-designed survey instrument and qualitative data collected through four focus group interviews were obtained from 234 preservice teacher participants enrolled in the social studies methods courses during the fall semester of 2006. Additional training in teaching economics, which included three one-hour sessions embedded in the social studies methods courses, was provided for the experimental group teachers. The results show that preservice teachers' intentions to teach economics were affected primarily by their perceived support from school administration and their self-efficacy. No statistically significant differences were found between the experimental and the control preservice teachers. The findings of this study indicate that whether preservice teachers decide to teach economics mainly depends on whether economics is tested on state-mandated examinations, and to some extent, the preservice teachers' own abilities to teach economics. The findings of this study also point to the need for more research in effective training for teaching elementary and middle-school level economics that can be incorporated into social studies methods courses.