2019 AAAS ARISE Commissioned Paper Series
Based on recommendations from a small group meeting AAAS convened around research on STEM pre-service programs, attendees and AAAS Noyce Advisors identified the topics for the following papers as a starting point for this initial set of commissioned papers – now available – to guide the ARISE community.
The papers are prefaced by an Introduction from which the following is excerpted.
“Across the papers, the authors collectively paint a comprehensive portrait of needed future research. This includes research on preconditions that shape teacher preparation (e.g., admissions criteria, prospective teacher characteristics), program inputs (e.g., teacher educator characteristics, financial support for prospective teachers), teacher preparation program components, clinical experiences, teaching assignments post-graduation, and measures of teacher effectiveness and retention.
The authors also address significant cross cutting issues, including the importance of clearly identifying a robust set of shared outcomes for teacher preparation; having robust understanding of the chain of evidence necessary to inform research (e.g., collecting data on working conditions that shape teacher learning and effectiveness); the need for common definitions to guide data collection; the need for common measures; and the need for infrastructure that supports systematic sharing of methods and measures, as well as collaborative work.
The authors of these papers were thorough in summarizing both the strengths and weaknesses of the current research landscape. Their analyses echo the conclusions of other syntheses as well (e.g., National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2015). The chapters will no doubt be useful to the many scholars interested in the question of how best to prepare future STEM teachers. The analyses make it very clear what we still do not know, and that might leave some readers overwhelmed by how much is still left to know. However, the picture they provide illuminates both how we can build on previous work, the many exciting new opportunities that lay before us, and the pressing need to engage in collective work across our varied contexts and institutions.”
–Suzanne M. Wilson, University of Connecticut
Abstract: There are research syntheses that review what the field knows about various aspects of STEM teacher preparation (e.g., National Research Council, 2000; Wilson, 2011) and reviews of teacher preparation across subjects (e.g., Cochran-Smith & Zeichner, 2013; Cochran-Smith, Villegas, Abrams, Chavez-Moreno, Mills & Stern, 2016). This review takes up yet another, related topic — the research and measurement approaches used to study STEM teacher preparation. Drawing on recent articles in STEM and general teacher education journals, the review takes a situated perspective and categorizes the research into seven inductively developed purposes: understanding STEM preservice teacher learning and development, improving educator preparation programs, contributing to program accountability, describing and understanding relationships between STEM preparation and valued outcomes, understanding assessments and measurement of STEM preparation, framing and reframing issues of STEM preparation, and understanding teacher educators and their practices. Within each of these purposes, the review summarizes the questions and phenomena under investigation and the methodological approaches used to understand these questions and phenomena. The authors offer insights about the questions and phenomena that have not yet been addressed in each purpose and suggest varied research agendas that could help the field strengthen research on and measurement of STEM teacher preparation.
Abstract: There have been long-standing concerns about a shortage of science and mathematics (STEM) teachers. Research over the past decades has identified teacher attrition as the primary cause of the shortage of teachers. This is particularly true in high-poverty schools where attrition can be extraordinarily high. The shortage of well-qualified STEM teachers, as well as the high-attrition of such teachers, have negative effects on student achievement. A number of factors influence the attrition rate of STEM teachers, including the preparation experiences of teachers. This study reviews the extant literature describing the relationship between teacher preparation and teacher attrition with a particular focus on STEM teachers and then examines the attrition of beginning STEM teachers in high-poverty schools in Texas by type of preparation program. Consistent with the limited prior research, we find that beginning STEM teachers in high-poverty schools from alternative certification programs that provide limited field experiences and little or no clinical experiences have substantially greater odds of both (a) leaving the profession of teaching and (b) leaving their initial school within a five-year time frame. We also find that the majority of beginning STEM teachers in Texas are prepared by alternative certification programs and beginning STEM teachers from alternative certification programs are more likely than their peers from university-based undergraduate programs to take an initial placement in high-poverty schools. To conclude this study, we examine the implications for policymakers and make recommendations for further research in this arena.
Abstract: STEM teacher retention is critical for improving STEM learning outcomes in the United States for several reasons. First, STEM teachers who remain in the profession generally become much more effective over time (Harris & Sass, 2011; Papay & Kraft, 2015). Second, students perform better in mathematics and other subjects when teacher turnover in their grade levels at their schools is reduced (Atteberry, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2017; Ronfeldt, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2013). Third, STEM teachers who remain in teaching and in their schools of origin are likely to contribute to a positive climate in their schools; in other words, schools that have high rates of teacher retention are more likely than other schools to establish and maintain supportive professional environments. Schools with supportive professional environments have higher levels of student achievement gains over time than other schools (Bryk & Schneider, 2002; Newmann, Smith, Allensworth, & Bryk, 2001). To this end, this essay examines what is known and what remains to be learned about school working conditions that promote novice STEM teacher retention. In the first three sections, we review research on how formal mentoring and induction programs, principal leadership, and person-environment fit affect beginning STEM teacher retention and two related outcomes, instructional quality and effectiveness. The fourth section both identifies strengths and weaknesses of the methods and indicators used for research on mentoring/induction programs, principal leadership, and teacher fit and STEM teachers; and recommends new methods and indicators for research in this area. In the fifth section, we discuss challenges to research implementation in this area and we conclude with several suggestions for strengthening linkages among STEM teacher induction scholars. These include identifying models that will permit cross-comparison of findings across studies, using common research methods, and creating data collection guidelines.