- Year 2023
- NSF Noyce Award # 2151018
- First Name Donna
- Last Name Ross
- Discipline Mathematics, STEM Education (general)
Katie Schenkel, San Diego State University
Carlos Alejandro de Alba, San Diego State University & University of California, San Diego
Research has found that long-term teacher networks provide peer-based support for overcoming personal and professional challenges related to teaching while also promoting the use of novel teaching strategies for enhancing student learning (Dancy et al., 2019; Fulton & Britton, 2011). Professional collaboration among teachers is also an opportunity to work towards common teaching goals and reduce stress levels (Cox, 2004; Rundquist et al., 2015). Studies like Morrell & Salomon (2017) have suggested that Noyce programs are effective at attracting prospective teachers but there is less work dedicated to understanding how and if these programs are effective at creating and supporting networks of current scholars and fellows and Noyce alumni. A series of preliminary interviews found that Noyce scholars and fellows appreciate the chance to network at conventions and value the differing perspectives that they are exposed to when they communicate with other teachers. Our study will look to understand how Noyce programs support communication among their scholars and how (or if) programs continue to support the networks so that scholars may reap the benefits. We hope this brief study might inform the design of future events and may aid principal investigators and other project staff in their design strategies and in developing a professional development ecosystem.
What do Noyce scholars and fellows most value from their local program and the Noyce conferences they attend? How do Noyce programs help establish and support long-term teacher networks among current scholars and fellows and Noyce alumni? What needs and interests should be the target of support from Noyce programs and Noyce teacher networks?
Pilot data was collected at the Western Regional Noyce Conference through a series of informal, but structured, interviews aimed at understanding what Noyce scholars value most from their program and regional conventions. Our participants were randomly selected from a pool of Noyce scholars, fellows, and principal investigators. The videos were summarized by project staff to uncover common themes and notable quotes. In order to follow the emerging theme of collaboration and networking, we will conduct and report on 15 minute semi-structured interviews with Noyce scholars at a session of the Western Regional Noyce Network. We define effective collaboration as Papay & Kraft (2016) do, such that the teams of collaboration must be “structured well and aligned with teacher’s needs and interests” (p. 41). Our upcoming interviews will explore what those needs and interests are for Noyce scholars and how a teacher network might support them. We will pay particular attention to how these networks could be built to have increased longevity past graduation and into a long-term teaching career.
Pilot interviews found that Noyce scholars value the communities they had become a part of at their local programs and at the regional conferences. Some scholars admitted that their school-site colleagues had lost passion and excitement for the profession, perceiving it as stale, but that Noyce scholars are notably excited about teaching and consider themselves to be lifelong learners that change as the field does. The opportunity to talk to teachers from other states is seen as a refreshing view at different teaching styles and aids in one’s search for their own voice and teaching style. One scholar noted that learning from Master Teaching Fellows (MTFs) was particularly rewarding as they can share tips from more teaching experience and from having learned to evolve with the students and the field over time. Another scholar noted that they would appreciate the opportunity for more networking as it allowed teachers to “develop ideas of what we can do differently in the classroom to make students more engaged and care about the work we do in school as opposed to seeing it as something they have to do.” Our proposed follow-up interviews will seek to understand how Noyce creates networking opportunities for scholars and how it might continue to support those opportunities once a conference has ended or a scholar has graduated. Reports from our interviews will include scholar suggestions for how to perpetuate the value of networking.
Prior research suggests that K-12 students show great improvement, both in achievement and STEM understanding, when their teachers participate in professional communities such as long-term teacher networks (Fulton & Britton, 2011; Vescio et al., 2008). Additionally, these networks are effective in promoting equity in STEM and encouraging underrepresented groups to pursue STEM degrees (Capraro et al., 2016; Moller et al., 2015). Understanding the needs and experiences of Noyce scholars and their networks might increase the longevity of them, giving rise to more chances for students to benefit from them as well. Furthermore, understanding how topics such as equity and culturally responsive teaching are discussed within Noyce networks might inform the types of professional development opportunities and other teaching events that are offered.