Date of Award

Summer 8-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Program/Concentration

Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Committee Director

Ian M. Katz

Committee Member

Abby L. Braitman

Committee Member

Russell A. Matthews

Committee Member

Anthony C. Perez

Abstract

The global COVID-19 pandemic has presented notable challenges in teachers’ career paths. In the present study, Super’s life-span, life-space theory was applied to examine the interplay between K-12 teachers’ propensity to search for meaning in life and meaningfulness attributed to their work role (i.e., meaningful work) in predicting career-relevant outcomes in the face of challenging circumstances over the course of a semester. A model was proposed in which propensity to search for meaning in life led to better work and career outcomes, an effect moderated by meaningful work. Longitudinal data from a sample of 617 teachers over eight outcome measurement timepoints across the fall 2020 semester was leveraged to test the model using a latent growth curve modeling approach. Meaningful work was positively related to self rated job performance and intrinsic work motivation, an effect that was stable over time. Interactive effects between propensity to search for meaning in life and meaningful work were found for intrinsic work motivation and occupational turnover intentions. At low meaningful work, those with higher propensity to search for meaning in life had higher intrinsic work motivation at the start of the semester and over time than those with low propensity to search for meaning. At high meaningful work, those with higher propensity to search for meaning in life had higher occupational turnover intentions than those with low propensity to search for meaning. Important implications for our understanding of meaning-making regarding roles in the life-space during challenging circumstances in the life-span and the practical applications of these findings for professions, organizations, and leaders are discussed.

DOI

10.25777/7rvr-vf73

ISBN

9798352694961

ORCID

0000-0001-6680-6718

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