- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1660597
- First Name Meltem
- Last Name Alemdar
- Discipline Other: Educational Research
Jessica Gale, Georgia Institute of Technology, firstname.lastname@example.org; Christopher Cappelli, Georgia Institute of Technology, email@example.com
Meltem Alemdar, Georgia Institute of Technology, firstname.lastname@example.org; Jessica Gale, Georgia Institute of Technology, email@example.com; Christopher Cappelli, Georgia Institute of Technology, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Shaheen Rana, Georgia Institute of Technology, email@example.com
This exploratory study, supported by the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, examines factors contributing to early career teachers’ retention and persistence in high-needs schools. Numerous studies show that teacher effectiveness and retention are affected by the strength and nature of teachers’ personal networks, both inside and outside of their school settings. Studies also show that when teachers have a strong support network, they are more likely to teach effectively and to remain in high-needs schools. Therefore, it is important to study the factors affecting the early career teachers’ retention in the classroom. It will be useful for the future funded Noyce programs to address these factors.
In this study, we specifically address the following two research questions, (1) What is the relationship between early career Noyce teachers’ personal network structures and retention in high needs schools’ and (2) How do Noyce program characteristics influence early career teachers’ collaboration patterns and retention in high needs schools?
This study is informed by the concept of social capital, or the “resources embedded in social networks that can influence whether teachers choose to remain in high needs’ schools”. A personal teacher network survey was developed through a two-phase mixed-methods approach. The network survey consists of items regarding the teachers’ support networks, including the characteristics of the teachers, individuals in their networks, and strength of the ties. Further, questions about Noyce Program characteristics and teachers’ perception of remaining and persisting in high needs’ schools were included. The survey starts with a broad question that aims to construct the teacher’s personal network, such as “Who in your professional life has had the greatest influence on your teaching career?” The initial draft of the survey was piloted as part of the first phase of the study with approximately 30 early career teachers.
The preliminary results showed that teachers’ network density was highly correlated to the type of school setting. Specifically, teachers in high-needs schools have higher mean network densities than those teachers who are not in high-needs schools. Further, specific Noyce Program characteristics and network measures were correlated, which shows that Noyce Programs with these characteristics might be more effective for building support networks among early career teachers. We present findings from the final phase of our study. In the final phase of the study, the sample includes 160 early career teachers from 60 different Noyce Programs across 30 states throughout the United States. we will further investigate the relationship between teachers’ support networks and retention by examining the personal networks of Noyce teachers, and see whether variations in their networks (e.g., number of connections, etc.) predict teachers’ retention and persistence in high-needs schools.
The broader impacts of this research will be at the national level. There are more than three hundred Noyce projects funded through the NSF Noyce Program. Identifying factors that influence Noyce teachers’ retention in high-needs schools will enable the Noyce Program to better address these factors in the future. This research will also contribute to STEM education literature on how teacher personal networks, support structures, and self-efficacy related to teacher retention.