- Year 2017
- NSF Noyce Award # 1556983
- First Name Lesa
- Last Name Beverly
- Discipline Other: Education
Keith Hubbard, Stephen F. Austin State University,
Dennis Gravatt, Stephen F. Austin State Universit, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chrissy Cross, Stephen F. Austin State University, email@example.com
This project is directed at examining the influence of formal and informal mentoring taking place during educator preparation and after graduation on the novice teacher’s choice of instructional methods. There is a gap in the research that connects mentoring during and after graduation for novice teachers and it?s connection to choice of instructional methods. This research fills that gap and benefits stakeholders in educator preparation as well as administrators in PK-12 settings.
The research question guiding this project is, how does mentoring during educator preparation and beyond graduation influence the novice teacher’s choice of instructional methods in the classroom. This project directly examines the mentoring experiences of two groups of novice high school math teachers, one group that participated in the Noyce Scholarship program and a comparison group of teachers who were not participants in the Noyce group. The Noyce scholarship program at SFASU has formal and informal mentoring built in from the beginning of each student’s participation in the grant program. This study examines the influence of that mentoring as the participant transitions from student to novice teacher and how they make instructional choices for their classrooms. The mentoring experiences that the participants are: informal get togethers with other participants from previous years, faculty members and grant staff; formal mentoring meetings with veteran teacher assigned as mentor, formal biweekly meetings with co-participants and grant faculty and staff and veteran teacher, attendance to state and Noyce Scholar conferences with faculty members and grant staff, and classroom visits after graduation by veteran teacher mentor and faculty. These activities plus many other informal interactions provide a mentoring activity base that allows an authentic relationships to develop between participant?s and grant staff. This project investigates if the instructional choice of the graduated Noyce Scholars has been influenced at all by those mentoring experiences.
For this study a qualitative particularistic case study methodology was chosen to guide the methodological design. Merriam (2009) defined particularistic case study, ?Particularistic means that case studies focus on a particular situation, even, program, or phenomenon. The case itself is important for what is reveals about the phenomenon and for what is might represent? (p.43). The research design was chosen based upon the small sample sizes and the difference phenomena experienced by the new teachers. The two groups of teachers that volunteered to be participants in the study had different mentoring experiences in their educator preparation programs. The two groups experienced one similar experience or phenomena, an educator preparation program at the same university. However, four of the teachers participated in the Noyce Scholarship program which includes a formal mentoring component, and the other four teachers did not. The examination of the influences of common and different phenomenon and experience upon the new teacher’s choice of instructional methods defines the particular cases of this research. Moustakas (1994) stated about phenomenological inquiry, ?the aim is to determine what an experience means for the person who have had the experiences? (p.. 13), the aim of this study is to examine the influence of the educator preparation program on new teacher?s choice of instructional methods.
Data sources for each participant include: a semi-structured interview, a Likert scale survey, in class observations, and a follow up email survey. Cresswell (2007) and Merriam (2009) state that data sources should allow the participants a voice in describing their particular experiences, the value and authenticity of each of the participant?s voice was captured through these data sources. The interviews specifically questioned the participants about the influence of mentoring (both during educator preparation and after graduation) on choice and implementation of instructional methods. The interview questions address the participants’ views and beliefs of how their teacher preparation program and/or supplementary mentoring influence choice and implementation of instructional methods. The Likert scale survey specifically allowed each of the participants to consider an empirical level of agreement with specific statements related to the choices of instructional methods. According to Yin, (2003) qualitative case study data can be triangulated with empirical surveys. The in class observations allowed the researcher as a participant observer (Spradley, 2016) to observe the participants implementation of instructional methods. After each observation, the researcher would debrief with the participant as a member check (Lincoln & Guba, 1985) . The follow up email interview was sent to each of the participants to allow the participants an opportunity to share any newly remembered ideas or experiences influencing their choice of instructional methods that they would like to voice.
The researchers for this project were, Adrienne Bay, a math teacher of four years with a mathematics degree from the University of Texas, working on a Masters degree at Stephen F. Austin State University in mathematics; and Dr. Chrissy Cross, an Assistant Professor of Secondary Education at Stephen F. Austin State University, Co-PI on the Noyce Scholarship grant, and one of Ms. Bay’s thesis advisors. This research was collected as part of Ms. Bay’s thesis requirement.
The first identified theme emerging from the data was related to the EPP that the participants experienced as undergraduates. Noyce program participants indicated that the EPP did an adequate job of preparing them for implementing instructional methods in the classroom. The participants who were enrolled in the traditional EPP emphatically stated the EPP did not adequately prepare them for implementing instructional methods in their classrooms. The second theme that emerged from the data was that the mentoring of the Noyce program participants influenced the choice and quality of instructional methods in the classroom. The findings indicate that the Noyce program participants were more comfortable implementing a greater number of instructional methods than the traditional EPP participants. The findings also indicate that the Noyce program participants used less time in class for free-time than the traditional EPP participants. These two themes indicate that mentoring in an undergraduate EPP influences the choices of instructional methods made by novice teachers. These themes help the Noyce Scholarship grant team to plan future mentoring opportunities for participants and graduates. The next part of this research will focus on how the mentoring influences the retention and attrition of the participants in their undergraduate programs and in the field of teaching.
The research findings of this project are going to be used to inform future decision making for mentoring activities in the Noyce Scholarship program at SFASU. In addition, the field of educator preparation programs can use this research to inform and design formal mentoring throughout the EPP program. Also, public schools PK-12 can use this research to justify organizing formal mentors and mentoring experiences for novice teachers. This research could impact the field of educator preparation, novice teaching experiences, and mentoring in education. In addition, the researchers, grant staff, and participants in the research all were positively influenced to be mindful and reflective of instructional method choices and sources by participation in this research study. Reciprocal research, that benefits the researcher and the participant is responsible research. This research manuscript will be submitted to the Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education in June 2017.