- Year 2022
- NSF Noyce Award # 1758282
- First Name Douglas
- Last Name Larkin
- Discipline N/A
Douglas Larkin, Sandra Adams, Suzanne Patzelt, Mayra Munoz, Montclair State University
This poster reports initial findings from IMPREST, a 5-year research project that aims to investigate novice science teacher retention in the United States, with a focus on the underlying factors influencing retention for the teachers who stay. The goal of this project is to describe efforts to support novice science teachers across a wide range of school and community environments in places where the retention rate of novice science teachers is demonstrably well above average. In such districts, there are stakeholders who know and have learned a great deal about how to support novice science teachers and create conditions for their success, including district administrators, science supervisors, teachers, and community members, and a core aim of this project is to spread their hard-won practical wisdom to a wider audience.
Our project aims to learn from districts that are successfully retaining novice science teachers, and to make sense of teacher retention in ways that enable other districts to learn from these efforts.
Our study focuses on school districts in the United States that have above-average novice science teacher retention and seeks to learn how such districts support their new teachers. In the first phase, we used publicly available staffing data from 2007 to 2018 to construct a 5-year retention map for six cohorts of novice science teachers in each of four U.S. states (New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin). Five districts per state were identified for a more detailed case study on the factors influencing science teacher retention. In the second phase, the research team invited each of the selected districts to participate in the study, and upon securing district approval, made arrangements to interview administrators, novice science teachers, mentor science teachers, retained science teachers, and anyone else involved in supporting novice science teachers. Early data collection was conducted in person, then later via zoom. The theoretical framework of teacher embeddedness was used to analyze the data.
This study found that retained teachers placed a high value on collaborative environments, adequate resources and salary, and the relationships they developed both within the school organization and the community. In many of the case study districts, the collective mentoring efforts of the science department as a whole was viewed by teachers as more important for retention than individually assigned mentors. In these districts, the human resources process of “onboarding” into the job was distinct from induction efforts to provide longitudinal new teacher supports. One clear implication from this study is the value of adequate common planning time, shared spaces, and engagement in informal relationship-building efforts because doing so helps teachers develop the links necessary to sustain themselves professionally over time.
This poster reports on the preliminary results of the case study analysis, and the project will continue collecting data. We plan on organizing a national conference and submitting a book proposal in summer 2023 in order to disseminate results.