logo logo European Journal of Educational Research

EU-JER is is a, peer reviewed, online academic research journal.

Subscribe to

Receive Email Alerts

for special events, calls for papers, and professional development opportunities.


Publisher (HQ)

Eurasian Society of Educational Research
Eurasian Society of Educational Research
Christiaan Huygensstraat 44, Zipcode:7533XB, Enschede, THE NETHERLANDS
Eurasian Society of Educational Research
Christiaan Huygensstraat 44, Zipcode:7533XB, Enschede, THE NETHERLANDS
career choice identity personality traits special education teachers

Factors Influencing Special Education Career Choices: Interplay of Personality Traits and Identity Statuses

Athena Daniilidou , Marianna Kyriakidou-Rasidaki , Katerina Nerantzaki

Recent research has identified factors influencing the choice of a special education career; however, it has not thoroughly examined their connection .

  • Pub. date: October 15, 2024
  • Online Pub. date: May 26, 2024
  • Pages: 1587-1605
  • 0 Citations

Recent research has identified factors influencing the choice of a special education career; however, it has not thoroughly examined their connection with personality traits and identity status. Thus, the present study was designed to explore how different personality traits and identity statuses correlate with the motives and perceptions associated with the choice to teach in special education. The study involved 209 pre-service special education teachers. The NEO-Five Factor Inventory was used to measure the Big 5 personality traits. The Ego Identity Process Questionnaire assessed identity commitment and exploration. The Factors Influencing Teaching Choice Scale was used to evaluate motivations and perceptions about teaching. Regarding the factors that influenced the decision to pursue a career in special education, intrinsic value, shaping children’s future, social equity, making social contributions, working with children, task demands, and job satisfaction were highly rated. Additionally, extraversion, openness to experience, conscientiousness, and identity statuses were identified as positive predictors for certain factors influencing the choice of a teaching career in special education. Finally, the study identified two distinct groups of students: "Identity Achievers" characterized by high positive personality traits, and identity commitment, and "Identity Explorers" characterized by lower positive personality traits and higher identity exploration. Differences were observed between the groups in their motives and perceptions concerning teaching in special education. In conclusion, this study highlights the relationships between personality, identity status, and career decision factors, offering insights into the factors that influence this critical career decision among future special educators. Directions for future research are discussed.

Keywords: Career choice, identity, personality traits, special education teachers.

cloud_download PDF
Article Metrics



Akosah-Twumasi, P., Emeto, T. I., Lindsay, D., Tsey, K., & Malau-Aduli, B. S. (2018). A systematic review of factors that influence youths career choices - The role of culture. Frontiers in Education, 3, Article 0058. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2018.00058

Azucar, D., Marengo, D., & Settanni, M. (2018). Predicting the Big 5 personality traits from digital footprints on social media: A meta-analysis. Personality and Individual Differences, 124, 150-159. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.12.018 

Balistreri, E., Busch-Rossnagel, N. A., & Geisinger, K. F. (1995). Development and preliminary validation of the Ego Identity Process Questionnaire. Journal of Adolescence, 18(2), 179-192. https://doi.org/10.1006/jado.1995.1012

Bartoszuk, K., & Pittman, J. F. (2010). Profiles of identity exploration and commitment across domains. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19, 444-450. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-009-9315-5

Batool, S. S., & Ghayas, S. (2020). Process of career identity formation among adolescents: components and factors. Heliyon, 6(9), Article 04905. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e04905

Beijaard, D., Meijer, P. C., & Verloop, N. (2004). Reconsidering research on teachers' professional identity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20(2), 107-128. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2003.07.001

Billingsley, F. F., & Kelley, B. (1994). An examination of the acceptability of instructional practices for students with severe disabilities in general education settings. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 19(2), 75-83.

Boveda, M., & Aronson, B. A. (2019). Special education preservice teachers, intersectional diversity, and the privileging of emerging professional identities. Remedial and Special Education, 40(4), 248-260. https://doi.org/10.1177/0741932519838621

Branje, S., De Moor, E. L., Spitzer, J., & Becht, A. I. (2021). Dynamics of identity development in adolescence: A decade in review. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 31(4), 908-927. https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12678

Brutus, S., Aguinis, H., & Wassmer, U. (2013). Self-reported limitations and future directions in scholarly reports: Analysis and recommendations. Journal of Management, 39(1), 48-75. https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206312455245

Buttner, S., Pijl, S. J., Bijstra, J., & Van den Bosch, E. (2016). Personality traits of expert teachers of students with EBD: Clarifying a teacher's X-factor. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 20(6), 569-587. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603116.2015.1100222

Caricati, L., La Sala, R., Marletta, G., Pelosi, G., Ampollini, M., Fabbri, A., Ricchi, A., Scardino, M., Artioli, G., & Mancini, T. (2014). Work climate, work values and professional commitment as predictors of job satisfaction in nurses. Journal of Nursing Management, 22(8), 984-994. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jonm.12079

Caspi, A., & Roberts, B. W. (2001). Personality development across the life course: The argument for change and continuity. Psychological Inquiry, 12(2), 49-66. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327965PLI1202_01

Chen, X., Zhong, J., Luo, M., & Lu, M. (2020). Academic self-efficacy, social support, and professional identity among preservice special education teachers in China. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, Article 374. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00374

Chrysafoudi, A., & Platsidou, M. (2016, October 20-23). Adaptation and implementation of the Ego Identity Process Questionnaire (EIPQ) in the Greek student population [Conference Presentation]. 5th Conference on Developmental Psychology of the Hellenic Psychological Society, Volos, Greece.

Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). The NEO PI-R professional manual. Psychological Assessment Resources.

Crișan, C., Albulescu, I., & Turda, S. (2018). Factors influencing deciding for a career in education as second career option. In V. Chis, & I. Albulescu (Eds.), Education, Reflection, Development (pp. 633-642). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2018.06.75

Daniilidou, A. (2023). Risk and protective factors and coping strategies for building resilience in Greek general and special education teachers. Journal of School and Educational Psychology, 3(2), 66-83. https://doi.org/10.47602/josep.v3i2.48

Day, C., Kington, A., Stobart, G., & Sammons, P. (2006). The personal and professional selves of teachers: Stable and unstable identities. British Educational Research Journal, 32(4), 601-616. https://doi.org/10.1080/01411920600775316

Diamantopoulou, G., & Platsidou, M. (2021). A short form of Ego Identity Process Questionnaire (EIPQSF): Testing its psychometric properties in young adults. Psychology: The Journal of the Hellenic Psychological Society, 26(1), 237-251. https://doi.org/10.12681/psy_hps.26231

Djigić, G., Stojiljković, S., & Dosković, M. (2014). Basic personality dimensions and teachers’ self-efficacy. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 112, 593-602. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.1206

Drame, E. R., Pierce, N. P., & Cairo, H. (2022). Black special education teacher educators’ practice of resistance. Teacher Education and Special Education, 45(1), 27-42. https://doi.org/10.1177/08884064211070570

Erikson, E. H. (1950). Childhood and society. W. W. Norton & Co.

Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity: Youth and crisis. W. W. Norton & Co.

Fish, R. E. (2019). Standing out and sorting in: Exploring the role of racial composition in racial disparities in special education. American Educational Research Journal, 56(6), 2573-2608. https://doi.org/10.3102/0002831219847966

Garner, J. K., & Kaplan, A. (2019). A complex dynamic systems perspective on teacher learning and identity formation: An instrumental case. Teachers and Teaching, 25(1), 7-33. https://doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2018.1533811

Goldberg, L. R. (1990). An alternative "description of personality": The Big-Five factor structure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59(6), 1216-1229. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.59.6.1216

Göncz, L. (2017). Teacher personality: a review of psychological research and guidelines for a more comprehensive theory in educational psychology. Open Review of Educational Research, 4(1), 75-95. https://doi.org/10.1080/23265507.2017.1339572

Granziera, H., Collie, R., & Martin, A. (2020). Understanding teacher wellbeing through job demands-resources theory. In C. F. Mansfield (Eds.), Cultivating teacher resilience (pp. 229-244). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-5963-1_14

Heinz, M. (2015). Why choose teaching? An international review of empirical studies exploring student teachers’ career motivations and levels of commitment to teaching. Educational Research and Evaluation, 21(3), 258-297. https://doi.org/10.1080/13803611.2015.1018278

Hennessy, J., & Lynch, R. (2017). “I chose to become a teacher because”. Exploring the factors influencing teaching choice amongst pre-service teachers in Ireland. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 45(2), 106-125. https://doi.org/10.1080/1359866X.2016.1183188

Holland, J. L. (1997). Making vocational choices: A theory of vocational personalities and work environments (3rd ed.). Psychological Assessment Resources.

Hong, J., Greene, B., Roberson, R., Cross Francis, D., & Rapacki Keenan, L. (2018). Variations in pre-service teachers’ career exploration and commitment to teaching. Teacher Development, 22(3), 408-426. https://doi.org/10.1080/13664530.2017.1358661

Ikotun, A. M., Ezugwu, A. E., Abualigah, L., Abuhaija, B., & Heming, J. (2023). K-means clustering algorithms: A comprehensive review, variants analysis, and advances in the era of big data. Information Sciences, 622, 178-210. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ins.2022.11.139

Jugović, I., Marušić, I., Ivanec, T. P., & Vidović, V. V. (2012). Motivation and personality of preservice teachers in Croatia. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 40(3), 271-287. https://doi.org/10.1080/1359866X.2012.700044

Klassen, R. M., & Tze, V. M. C. (2014). Teachers’ self-efficacy, personality, and teaching effectiveness: A meta-analysis. Educational Research Review, 12, 59-76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2014.06.001

Klimstra, T. A., Luyckx, K., Germeijs, V., Meeus, W. H. J., & Goossens, L. (2012). Personality traits and educational identity formation in late adolescents: Longitudinal associations and academic progress. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 41, 346-361. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-011-9734-7

Kline, R. B. (2016). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. Guilford publications.

König, J., & Rothland, M. (2012). Motivations for choosing teaching as a career: Effects on general pedagogical knowledge during initial teacher education. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 40(3), 289-315. https://doi.org/10.1080/1359866X.2012.700045

Kroger, J., & Marcia, J. E. (2011). The identity statuses: Origins, meanings, and interpretations. In S. J. Schwartz, K. Luyckx, & V. L. Vignoles (Eds.), Handbook of identity theory and research (pp. 31-53). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-7988-9_2

Langher, V., Caputo, A., & Ricci, M. E. (2017). The potential role of perceived support for reduction of special education teachers’ burnout. International Journal of Educational Psychology, 6(2), 120-147. https://doi.org/10.17583/ijep.2017.2126

Lounsbury, J. W., Levy, J. J., Leong, F. T., & Gibson, L. W. (2007). Identity and personality: The big five and narrow personality traits in relation to sense of identity. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, 7(1), 51-70. https://doi.org/10.1080/15283480701319641

Luyckx, K., Soenens, B., & Goossens, L. (2006). The personality-identity interplay in emerging adult women: Convergent findings from complementary analyses. European Journal of Personality, 20(3), 195-215. https://doi.org/10.1002/per.579

Mancini, T., Caricati, L., Panari, C., & Tonarelli, A. (2015). Personal and social aspects of professional identity.: An extension of Marcia's identity status model applied to a sample of university students. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 89, 140-150. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2015.06.002

Marcia, J. E. (1966). Development and validation of ego-identity status. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 3(5), 551-558. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0023281

Marinković, B., & Borović, L. (2022). Personality traits and identity status of adolescents: a person-centered approach. Godišnjak za Psihologiju, 19, 101-116. https://doi.org/10.46630/gpsi.19.2022.06

Marschall, G. (2022). The role of teacher identity in teacher self-efficacy development: the case of Katie. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 25, 725-747. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10857-021-09515-2

Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-396. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0054346

Mason-Williams, L., Bettini, E., Peyton, D., Harvey, A., Rosenberg, M., & Sindelar, P. T. (2020). Rethinking shortages in special education: Making good on the promise of an equal opportunity for students with disabilities. Teacher Education and Special Education, 43(1), 45-62. https://doi.org/10.1177/0888406419880352

McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T. (2008). Empirical and theoretical status of the five-factor model of personality traits.  In G. J. Boyle, G. Matthews, & D. H. Saklofske (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of personality theory and assessment, Vol. 1. Personality theories and models (pp. 273–294). Sage Publications, Inc. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781849200462.n13

McCrae, R. R., & John, O. P. (1992). An introduction to the five‐factor model and its applications. Journal of Personality, 60(2), 175-215. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.1992.tb00970.x

McLeskey, J., Hoppey, D., Williamson, P., & Rentz, T. (2004). Is inclusion an illusion? An examination of national and state trends toward the education of students with learning disabilities in general education classrooms. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 19(2), 109-115. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5826.2004.00094.x

Meijers, F., & Lengelle, R. (2012). Narratives at work: The development of career identity. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 40(2), 157-176. https://doi.org/10.1080/03069885.2012.665159

Neal, A., Yeo, G., Koy, A., & Xiao, T. (2012). Predicting the form and direction of work role performance from the Big 5 model of personality traits. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 33(2), 175-192. https://doi.org/10.1002/job.742

Neeraj, N., & Ahmad, W. (2020). Factors influencing choice of career in special education: a descriptive analysis. International Journal of Indian Psychology, 8(3), 1363-1368. https://bit.ly/4bN7bnn

Panayiotou, G., Kokkinos, C. M., & Spanoudis, G. (2004). Searching for the “Big Five” in a Greek context: The NEO-FFI under the microscope. Personality and Individual Differences, 36(8), 1841-1854. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2003.07.005

Pavin Ivanec, T., & Defar, A. (2023). Motivation for the choice of the teaching profession: The role of prospective teachers’ personality traits, emotional competence, and life-satisfaction. SAGE Open, 13(2), 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1177/21582440231182594  

Perera, H. N., Granziera, H., & McIlveen, P. (2018). Profiles of teacher personality and relations with teacher self-efficacy, work engagement, and job satisfaction. Personality and Individual Differences, 120, 171-178. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.08.034

Peyton, D. J., Acosta, K., Harvey, A., Pua, D. J., Sindelar, P. T., Mason-Williams, L., Dewey, J., Fisher, L. T., & Crews, E. (2021). Special education teacher shortage: Differences between high and low shortage states. Teacher Education and Special Education, 44(1), 5-23. https://doi.org/10.1177/0888406420906618

Prather-Jones, B. (2011). “Some people aren’t cut out for it”: The role of personality factors in the careers of teachers of students with EBD. Remedial and Special Education, 32(3), 179-191. https://doi.org/10.1177/0741932510362195

Reeves, L. M. (2018). Exploring factors toward pursuing a career in special education. Journal of Contemporary Educational Research, 2(5), 21-26. https://doi.org/10.26689/jcer.v2i5.480

Reeves, L. M., Parrish, C. W., & Guffey, S. K. (2021). Choosing a career in special education. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 21(2), 73-85. https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-3802.12500

Richardson, P. W., & Watt, H. M. G. (2018). Teacher professional identity and career motivation: a lifespan perspective. In: P. Schutz, J. Hong, & D. Cross Francis (Eds.), Research on teacher identity (pp. 37-48). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-93836-3_4

Robinson, O. P., Bridges, S. A., Rollins, L. H., & Schumacker, R. E. (2019). A study of the relation between special education burnout and job satisfaction. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 19(4), 295-303. https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-3802.12448

Rostami, F., Yousefi, M. H., & Amini, D. (2021). A qualitative study on identity construction among teachers working with students with disabilities. International Journal of Multicultural Education, 23(2), 88-106. https://doi.org/10.18251/ijme.v23i2.2611

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.68

Sharma, M. S., & Suri, S. (2019). Moderating effects of big five personality between self-efficacy and career choice among college students. International Journal of Innovative Studies in Sociology and Humanities, 4(5), 101-109. https://bit.ly/3wOspma

Spence, R., Owens, M., & Goodyer, I. (2012). Item response theory and validity of the NEO-FFI in adolescents. Personality and Individual Differences, 53(6), 801-807. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2012.06.002

Stellmacher, A., Ohlemann, S., Pfetsch, J., & Ittel, A. (2020). Pre-service teacher career choice motivation: A comparison of vocational education and training teachers and comprehensive school teachers in Germany. International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training, 7(2), 214-236. https://doi.org/10.13152/IJRVET.7.2.5

Stephens, T. L., & Fish, W. W. (2010). Motivational factors toward pursuing a career in special education. Education, 130(4), 581-594.

Sugar, C. A., & James, G. M. (2003). Finding the number of clusters in a dataset: An information-theoretic approach. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 98(463), 750-763. https://doi.org/10.1198/016214503000000666

Tomšik, R., & Gatial, V. (2018). Choosing teaching as a profession: Influence of big five personality traits on fallback career. Problems of Education in the 21st Century, 76(1), 100-108. https://doi.org/10.33225/pec/18.76.100  

Trent, J. (2010). Teacher education as identity construction: Insights from action research. Journal of Education for Teaching, 36(2), 153-168 https://doi.org/10.1080/02607471003651672

Trent, J. (2011). ‘Four years on, I’m ready to teach’: Teacher education and the construction of teacher identities. Teachers and Teaching, 17(5), 529-543. https://doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2011.602207

Tzivinikou, S., & Kagkara, D. (2019). Factors that contribute to the improvement of the sense of self-efficacy of special educators in inclusive settings in Greece. International Journal of Educational and Pedagogical Sciences, 13(4), 356-362.

Wang, N., Jome, L. M., Haase, R. F., & Bruch, M. A. (2006). The role of personality and career decision-making self-efficacy in the career choice commitment of college students. Journal of Career Assessment, 14(3), 312-332. https://doi.org/10.1177/1069072706286474

Watt, H. M. G., & Richardson, P. W. (2007). Motivational factors influencing teaching as a career choice: Development of the FIT-Choice scale. The Journal of Experimental Education, 75(3), 167-202. https://doi.org/10.3200/JEXE.75.3.167-202

Watt, H. M. G., & Richardson, P. W. (2008). Motivations, perceptions, and aspirations concerning teaching as a career for different types of beginning teachers. Learning and Instruction, 18(5), 408-428. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2008.06.002

Watt, H. M. G., Richardson, P. W., Klusmann, U., Kunter, M., Beyer, B., Trautwein, U., & Baumert, J. (2012). Motivations for choosing teaching as a career: An international comparison using the FIT-Choice scale. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28(6), 791-805. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.TATE.2012.03.003

Wu, S., Zhang, K., Zhou, S., & Chen, W. (2020). Personality and career decision-making self-efficacy of students from poor rural areas in China. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 48(5), 1-18. https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.8753

Yasmeen, Z., Mushtaq, I., & Murad, M. (2019). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation of teachers in special education secondary school: A qualitative study. Journal of Educational Research, 22(2), 15-30. https://bit.ly/3xBUg9e

Zainudin, Z. N., Rong, L. W., Nor, A. M., Yusop, Y. M., & Othman, W. N. W. (2020). The relationship of Holland theory in career decision making: A systematic review of the literature. Journal of Critical Reviews, 7(9), 884-892.

Zhang, D., Wang, Q., Losinski, M., & Katsiyannis, A. (2014). An examination of preservice teachers’ intentions to pursue careers in special education. Journal of Teacher Education, 65(2), 156-171. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487113510743

Zulkifli, F. A. Z., Ab Rahman, O., & Musa, N. N. (2021). The relationship between personality and career decision-making self-efficacy among pre-university student at Machang. Journal of Islamic Social Sciences and Humanities, 25(2), 36-60. https://doi.org/10.33102/abqari.vol25no2.465