- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1660839, 1660658, 1660810, 1660777, 1660715
- First Name Stamatis
- Last Name Vokos
- Discipline Other: Teacher Research Experiences
John Keller, University of Colorado Boulder; Ellie Fullbeck, American Institutes for Research; Bo Zhu, American Institutes for Research; Sanlyn Buxner, University of Arizona;Deidre Sessoms, Sacramento State University; Larry Horvath, San Francisco State University; Dermot Donnelly, Fresno State University
John Keller, University of Colorado Boulder
Current trends in teacher education and professional development imply that research experiences positively correlate with desired outcomes in teacher retention, persistence, and practices; however, evaluation of such programs has, to date, consisted almost solely of participant accounts, with little to no triangulation with additional sources of data. The STEM Teacher and Researcher (STAR) Program is a nine-week paid summer research experience for aspiring K-12 STEM teachers, including numerous Noyce scholars. This study is triangulating data collected from STAR alumni and a comparison group of teachers with data collected from supervisor/observer interviews and student surveys and student achievement data in an effort to identify the program’s impact, if any, on teacher retention, persistence, and practices and differentiate between the experiences of program alumni and the comparison group.
The project is answering the following three research questions: 1) Are STAR Fellows (Noyce or non-Noyce) more likely to persist and/or be retained in high-need settings? 2) Compared with other teachers at their schools and in their districts, are STAR Fellows (Noyce or non-Noyce) more effective at engaging students in STEM learning and increasing student achievement gains, particularly in high-need settings? 3) What are the aspects of the STAR Program and selected Noyce Programs that most strongly influence the above findings with regards to persistence, retention, and effectiveness?
These research questions are being addressed through analyses of teacher and student surveys (RQ1, RQ2, and RQ3), extant teacher employment data (RQ1), student achievement and survey data collected from a select group of districts (RQ2), and teacher and principal interviews (RQ1, RQ2, RQ3). The team has recruited 8 alumni and 8 similar comparison teachers across 7 districts to participate in the case study. Particularly, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (1660839) has recruited two STAR alumni and two comparison teachers from Lucia Mar Unified School District to participate in the Year 2 case study. For more information on recruitment objectives of three other campuses (Sacramento State University, CSU Fresno, and San Francisco State University), please refer to each campus’s Year 2 annual project report (award numbers: 1660810, 1660777, and 1660715, respectively).
The majority of STAR alumni taught science (82%) and only 25% taught mathematics. For applicants, science was also the most commonly taught subject (60%) though they had a higher percentage teach mathematics (44%). For those who currently teach, when asked about their likelihood of teaching five years from now, about half of STAR alumni (50%) and applicants (51%) reported definitely yes. About half of STAR alumni (56%) and applicants (56%) perceived that their students engaged in most STEM related-activities (e.g., considering alternative explanations, generating questions or predictors to explore) at a weekly rate. In reflecting on which STAR elements helped STAR alumni teach and engage students, the two most commonly selected items were conducting research in the STAR program (64%) and weekly STAR workshops (50%).
For the field of STEM Teacher preparation, this project will provide insight into the immediate and long-term value of STEM research experiences, specifically for pre-service and early career teachers. Findings will add to the literature in this area and provide evidence of possible outcomes for teachers and their students. For the field of science education research, this project builds upon the theoretical framework of activity theory coupled with identities that are formed in communities of practice. Project findings move beyond self-report data to triangulating accounts from teachers, supervisors and students and correlating teachers’ persistence, retention, and effectiveness to teacher research experiences. The findings will add understanding to the empirical impacts for teachers and students. Additionally, these findings will have pedagogical implications for training and providing professional development for STEM teachers.