- Year 2018
- NSF Noyce Award # 1660736
- First Name Gregory
- Last Name Rushton
- Discipline Other: Track 4 Research
Brandon Ofem, University of Missouri-St. Louis, firstname.lastname@example.org
Margaret Schroeder, University of Kentucky, email@example.com
Gillian Roehrig, University of Minnesota, firstname.lastname@example.org
Keith Sheppard, Stony Brook University, email@example.com
Michael Beeth, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, firstname.lastname@example.org
Samuel Polizzi, Kennesaw State University, email@example.com; Gregory Rushton, Stony Brook University, firstname.lastname@example.org; Brandon Ofem, University of Missouri-St. Louis, email@example.com; Margaret Schroeder, University of Kentucky, firstname.lastname@example.org; Gillian Roehrig, University of Minnesota, email@example.com; Keith Sheppard, Stony Brook University, firstname.lastname@example.org; Michael Beeth, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, email@example.com
Empirical data on the outcomes and effectiveness of Noyce teacher induction programs are needed to inform workforce policies. The ‘Network Retention in Noyce Communities of Practice’ project is a collaborative research effort to understand differences and similarities across five effective Noyce teacher induction programs. Induction programs are often viewed as a bridge between teacher preparation communities and in-service teacher communities, yet current methods to examine induction have not drawn upon the rich information present in Social Network Analysis (SNA). We are using SNA to understand how Noyce programs facilitate teacher communities of practice over time, and how those communities influence teacher identity, self-efficacy, and disposition toward remaining in the profession. Relationships between professional supports and outcomes learned from this research project will benefit teacher educators, educational and human resource researchers, and policy makers.
The overarching goals of the project are to understand the social mechanisms through which teachers become embedded in teaching communities, and how those communities impact retention in the teaching profession. To this end, we have assembled a team of researchers engaged teacher preparation and induction with both Noyce scholarship recipients and non-Noyce teachers. The key research activities include investigating the support structures at each Noyce site, analyzing network maps of teacher communities of practice, and establishing interactions between teacher community structures and how teachers are positioned to remain in the profession.
Our approach is founded in social network theory, which holds that the aggregate pattern of relationships between individuals has implications for the individuals in that social network, as well as the structure itself. The relationships between individuals serve as pipes through which resources, information, and influence flow, so different positions within a network can confer benefits, opportunities and/or constrains for individuals occupying those positions. The overall network structures can also influence feelings of belonging, a culture of norms, and access to novel information. In particular, we focus on the exchange of information within teacher communities of practice, or groups of people who interact to improve a shared craft, as a key factor mediating access to the profession and disposition toward retention in the field.
We are generating empirical evidence for the role of communities of practice in STEM teacher development. Initial analysis of SNA survey data indicates a diversity of community-based activities, professional networks, and outcomes for participating teachers. We observe differences in network structures between Noyce projects and/or STEM disciplines and are investigating their impacts on dispositions toward remaining in the teaching profession. For example, communities of practice within a school may help with daily activities, classroom management, and emotional support, while those beyond the school may be important aspects of an identity as a teaching professional and desire to continue teaching. We are also investigating emerging trends and how the Noyce funding mechanisms (Tracks 1-4) have facilitated the development of sustainable communities of practice within university teacher preparation programs.
The impacts of this project can be more broadly applied across education and workforce issues. Within education, we have intentionally chosen research constructs that are represented in national survey databases. We have selected program features from the annual Noyce Participant Survey, and professional retention constructs from the Teacher Follow-up Survey and Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Study, so that findings from our research can be applied to national datasets in future studies. SNA findings can also impact workforce studies in the organizational sciences. Human resources (HR) is a field in its own right in the management literature, and scholars have spent much time studying recruitment and retention in a wide range of organizational contexts. Therefore our research will be disseminated in both education and management outlets (e.g. websites, publications, national conference presentations).