- Year 2023
- NSF Noyce Award # 1950019, 1949985, 1949925, 1950001, 1949969, 1950002, 1949927
- First Name Adem
- Last Name Ekmekci
- Discipline Mathematics
Anne Papakonstantinou, Betul Orcan-Ekmekci, and Jamie Catanese, 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; Guershon Harel, University of California San Diego; Peter Sheppard, University of Louisiana at Lafayyette
Mahtob Aqazade, Rice University
Teacher turnover presents significant challenges for U.S. public schools for over decades, particularly for science and mathematics in high-need schools (Cross, 2017). Investigating factors related to teacher retention is a crucial first step to remedy the disruptive effects of teacher turnover. Further, by comparing master teachers who were a part of Noyce Master Teaching Fellowship program with those who have similar demographic and teaching background will shed light on the impact of the Noyce program.
(1) How do Master Teachers (MTFs) compare to non-MTFs in terms of their self-efficacy, leadership engagement, diversity dispositions, school-work environment, social network size, and retention? (2) To what extent do these factors relate to their retention? Is there a difference between MTFs and non-MTFs regarding this relation?
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 85 master teachers (MTFs) who participated in the Noyce Master Teaching Fellows program across six previous Track 3 programs. In addition, we strategically selected 82 comparison teachers who they teach or taught in the same districts as the MTFs and have similar demographic and professional backgrounds as 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.
Findings indicated that MTFs’ teaching self-efficacy (t(165) = 2.23, p = .03), teaching network size (t(165) = 3.33, p < .001), leadership network bridging (t(165) = 1.86, p = .03) and energizing (t(159) = 1.67, p = .05), and teaching network proximity (t(165) = 3.50, p < .001) and leadership network proximity (t(159) = 2.91, p < .001) are significantly greater than non-MTFs. Although not statistically significant, MTFs’ availing diversity dispositions are slightly higher than non-MTFs (t(165) = 1.81, p = .07). There was no statistically significant difference between MTFs and non-MTFs on other factors. Regarding retention, there was no difference between MTFs and non-MTFs in terms of changing schools or leaving the profession. However, significant differences occurred between the two groups about staying (t(165) = -3.22, p < .001) and shifting (t(165) = 2.24, p = .03) to a leadership position. Interpreted collectively, we can infer that MTFs are more likely to assume a leadership role. Regarding the relation between retention and independent variables, results indicated that higher level of engagement in teacher leadership and lower degrees of teacher-school fit were associated with shifting to a leadership position. Leadership network size is positively associated with shifting to a leadership position. Lastly, leavers tend to have slightly higher levels of self-efficacy compared to stayers. The relationship between the independent variables and retention did not differ between MTFs and non-MTFs.
The problem of teacher turnover has been a consistent concern in the U.S. educational system (Cross, 2017). Projected data for the 2022-23 school year from the U.S. Department of Education (2022) indicates math and science teacher shortages for more than 40 U.S. territories. 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.