- Year 2022
- NSF Noyce Award # 2050249
- First Name Devon
- Last Name Brenner
- Discipline Mathematics
Dana Franz, Mississippi State University; Keith Hubbard, Stephen F. Austin University; Jennifer Whitfield, Texas A&M University
Devon Brenner, Dana Franz, Diana Outlaw, Mississippi State University; Keith Hubbard, Stephen F. Austin University; Jennifer Whitfield & Laura Wilding, Texas A&M University
Staffing schools with high quality STEM teachers has been a persistent challenge for rural schools for the past century, however, to date, relatively few resources have been allocated toward the improvement of rural teacher preparation. Addressing STEM teacher workforce needs in rural America is critical for future student success. Our project, Investigating STEM Teacher Preparation and Rural Teacher Persistence and Retention [(TPR)2], aims to address STEM teacher workforce challenges through (a) a focus on how educator preparation programs (EPPs) address the unique contexts of rurality and teaching STEM in rural settings, and (2) by identifying the programmatic features of EPPs that support rural STEM teacher recruitment, retention, and persistence. Research from the (TPR)2 project is needed to generate practice-based evidence about how EPPs can better provide a diverse STEM teaching force for rural schools. This research provides the opportunity for a systematic, longitudinal, and multi-context approach for understanding how educator preparation for rural STEM placements manifests in distinct locations and how those programmatic features are related to STEM teacher recruitment, persistence, and retention in rural environments.
Our work is guided by following five research questions:1. How do rural serving EPPs address rurality? What features of EPPs are intended to prepare program completers for employment as a STEM teacher in rural schools? 2. What programmatic features of the EPPs impact teacher candidates’ intentions to teach STEM in rural schools? How do these programmatic features impact the teacher candidates’ intentions? 3. What programmatic features of the EPPs impact program completers’ decisions to accept their first teaching position in rural STEM classrooms? How do these programmatic features impact the teacher candidates’ decisions? 4. What programmatic features of the EPP impact program completers’ decisions to persist in teaching STEM at the same rural campus? In what ways do these features impact the teacher candidate’s decisions and long-term plans to persist at the same rural campus? 5. What impacts program completers’ retention, that is, their decisions to keep teaching STEM in (a) rural or (b) non-rural schools, but not necessarily at the same campus? In what ways do these features impact the teacher candidate’s decisions to remain teaching STEM in (a) rural or (b) non-rural schools?
The (TPR)2 project uses a longitudinal, repeated-measures, mixed-methods research design. The research plan uses three surveys, developed by the (TPR)2 research team, artifacts from the EPPs, and virtual semi-structured interviews. Artifacts collected from each of the 14 collaborating partners include degree plans, course syllabi, copies of assignments and assessments from courses for which syllabi were collected, samples of teacher candidates’ work, recruiting materials, program handbooks, and field placement data. The longitudinal approach allows the research team to follow participants from the time they enter the last phase of their teacher preparation to the first few years of their teaching career. Applying mixed methods allows the researchers to analyze survey data using quantitative analysis while at the same time using the qualitative data to better understand the survey results and to answers questions the survey data may not address.The (TPR)2 research team is using the three C’s framework for teacher education developed by Azano, et al. (2019). The three C’s suggest that EPPs aiming to address recruitment, retention, and effectiveness for rural schools should focus on three areas of educator preparation: context, curriculum, and conveyance. The first of the three C’s, context, states that rural teacher recruitment can be impacted when programmatic features of EPPs address rural contexts. Such features help preservice teachers better understand the advantages
The key outcomes of the (TPR)2 project are to provide the research community with a greater understanding of how EPPs prepare teachers for rural teaching, the relationship between features of EPPs and teacher candidate’s intention to teach in rural settings, the relationship between features of EPPs and teacher candidates’ decisions about accepting their initial teaching position, and the relationship between features of EPPs and teacher recruitment, persistence, and retention in rural schools. (TPR)2 researchers will also focus on the three C’s (context, curriculum, and conveyance) in rural-serving EPPs and use the results of the research to develop and disseminate rural-focused STEM resources for EPPs.
The broader impact of this collaborative research project is a greater understanding of the programmatic features of EPPs, as well as Noyce programs, that support rural STEM teacher recruitment, retention, and persistence. The 14 collaborative partners on the project meet regularly to discuss and share information about how each partnering institution prepares STEM teachers for rural placements. This nationwide collaboration incorporates deep reflection of key stakeholders in the partnering EPPs and is intended to test emerging findings and support the improvement of individual programs as we work to better prepare teachers for rural placements. In addition, the collaborating partners will develop resources for teacher education practitioners beyond the project and expand the research knowledge on rural STEM teacher preparation. The ultimate aim of this project is to improve teaching and learning in rural STEM classrooms through the identification and promotion of programmatic features that support the development of a more stable and effective teacher workforce for rural STEM classrooms.