Original Research

Experiencing a sense of calling: The influence of meaningful work on teachers’ work attitudes

Marietjie Willemse, Elmari Deacon
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 41, No 1 | a1274 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v41i1.1274 | © 2015 Marietjie Willemse, Elmari Deacon | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 March 2015 | Published: 04 September 2015

About the author(s)

Marietjie Willemse, Optentia Research Programme, North-West University, Vaal Triangle Campus
Elmari Deacon, Optentia Research Programme, North-West University, Vaal Triangle Campus


Orientation: Worldwide transformation and change in education has placed increased demands on teachers, which has resulted in teachers experiencing a potentially negative work attitude.

Research purpose: The aim of this article was to expand the understanding of the relationship between a sense of calling, work attitude and meaningful work.

Motivation for the study: The international community has rated the quality of education in South Africa as being substandard. Therefore, work attitudes and the impact of meaningful work in the current educational system was investigated.

Research approach, design and method: A quantitative, cross-sectional survey was used with a representative sample of teachers in South Africa (N = 270). Data were gathered by means of questionnaires and analysed through structural equation modelling.

Main findings: A significant positive relationship was found between a sense of calling and work attitude. Meaningful work was found to mediate the relationship between a sense of calling and positive work attitude.

Practical/managerial implications: Retention of teachers displaying a positive work attitude as well as those finding meaning in their work is paramount. Communication pertaining to the broader mission and common goals of the Department of Education should transpire. Support and training should be provided and teachers should be allowed autonomy in a school atmosphere that is pleasant and disciplined.

Contribution/value-add: Sufficient support to enhance meaningful work may contribute to the delivery of quality education.


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