- Year 2022
- NSF Noyce Award # 1950019
- First Name Adem
- Last Name Ekmekci
- Discipline Mathematics, Other:Science
Adem Ekmekci, Rice University; Cindy Callard and Michael Daley, University of Rochester; Rebecca McGraw, University of Arizona; David Gibson and Karen Renzaglia, Southern Illinois University; Gregory Rushton, Middle Tennessee State University
Investigating factors related to teacher retention is a crucial first step to remedy the disruptive effects of teacher turnover. Career actions of Noyce Master Teaching Fellows “beyond their teaching requirement” is particularly relevant in this context. Moreover, comparing these factors for MTFs to that of non-Noyce teachers who have similar demographic and teaching background will shed light on the impact of the Noyce program.
*The purpose of this project is to study the retention of Noyce Master Teaching Fellows (MTFs) in high-need schools beyond their teaching commitment in relation to their self-efficacy for teaching, leadership skills, diversity dispositions, school-work environment, and social networks in comparison with non-Noyce teachers. The following formal questions guide this study:*To what extent do Noyce MTFs’ self-efficacy for teaching, leadership skills, diversity dispositions, social networks, person-organization fit, and principal autonomy support relate to their retention?*To what extent do non-Noyce teachers’ self-efficacy for teaching, leadership skills, diversity dispositions, social networks, person-organization fit, and principal autonomy support relate to their retention?*How do Noyce MTFs and non-Noyce teachers compare in terms of their self-efficacy for teaching, leadership skills, diversity dispositions, social networks, person-organization fit, and principal autonomy support controlling for their professional background?
This exploratory research project aims to establish initial connections between independent variables of interests for teachers and outcome variables of retention of teachers. The project also builds on the existing research and theories on self-efficacy, teacher leadership, person-organization fit, diversity and inclusion, and social networks to examine the relation between the key teacher variables and teacher retention.The sample includes a total of 84 former MTFs across six previous Track 3 programs and 83 comparison teachers who were strategically identified in that they teach or taught in the same districts as the MTFs and in that they are similar in their demographic and professional backgrounds to MTFs. All teachers took one-hour survey which included several subscales to measure the constructs of interest mentioned earlier. Of survey takers, 66 teachers completed an hour long interview as well. The survey comprised of several items adapted from different instruments that were developed and validated by other researchers was piloted with more than 200 teachers. The interview protocol was also piloted with eight teachers before it was finalized.
Pilot study results indicated that secondary teachers were more likely to shift to a non-teaching position compared to stayers. The higher level of teacher leadership skills and lower degrees of teacher-school fit were associated with shifting to a leadership position. Lastly, a higher level of teaching self-efficacy was observed in leavers compared to stayers. Preliminary findings from the main study illuminated that MTFs’ teaching self-efficacy is significantly greater than non-MTFs. Although not statistically significant, MTFs’ availing diversity dispositions are slightly higher than non-MTFs (practical significance α = .1). MTFs’ teacher leadership network size is significantly greater than non-MTFs. There was no statistical significance between MTFs and non-MTFs in their leadership skills, school-work environment, and teaching networks. Regarding moving to a different school, there seems to be no difference between MTFs and non-MTFs. However, MTFs significantly tend to shift to a leadership position than non-MTFs do (p < .05). Regarding leaving K-12 teaching/education, the results are inconclusive due to the low number of leavers in the sample (n = 12). Some of teachers’ reasons for shifting to a non-teaching position included teaching burnout, better pay, and having greater impact. Reasons for leaving included the pandemic, retirement, family, stress, and burnout.
The problem of teacher turnover has been a consistent concern in the U.S. educational system (Cross, 2017). Thus, there is a critical need to explore and understand factors influencing teachers’ decisions to remain in the profession. To address this need, in this project, we focused on examining the relation of teachers’ beliefs and social networks and their retention. In addition, preliminary results from comparing teachers who participated in multi-year leadership programs (Noyce MTF Programs) with those who did not (non-MTFs) indicates favorable results for MTFs. This supports the existence of Noyce MTF Programs. The results of this project provide implications for practitioners, researchers, and administrators to sustain teachers’ persistence and support shifting to a leadership position where they can have a greater impact for educational outcomes.