ARISE responds to the national call for a change in STEM teacher education and seeks to develop a research agenda to help build effective STEM teacher preservice education and leadership development programs for high-need schools. Before responsible changes to both STEM teacher education practice and research may be proposed, examining the current evidence base and state of research foci and designs is warranted.
- To this end, Bell, Gitomer, Savage, and McKenna (2018) examines strengths and weaknesses of indicators and methods used for this research strand and accordingly makes suggestions for improving research quality and linkages among the community of preservice STEM teacher education researchers.
Additionally, as with good teaching and backwards design, we must begin with the end in mind; as research has demonstrated that one of the drivers of the shortage of effective STEM teachers in high-need school districts is STEM teacher turnover, addressing how best to retain STEM teachers in the workforce is critical. Due to the nature of this issue, our approach is two-pronged, spanning both the early career stage and factors within the control of STEM teacher preparation programs.
- Fuller and Pendola (2018) focuses, in both a review of extant literature and an original analysis of state data, on aspects of teacher preparation that are associated with retention in the STEM teaching workforce.
- Youngs, Bieda, & Kim (2018) complements these findings through an examination of teacher induction programs in relation to retention and promising methods and indicators that researchers should consider using in future research on beginning STEM teacher induction.
Based on recommendations from a June 2016 small group meeting AAAS convened around research on STEM preservice programs, attendees and AAAS Noyce Advisors identified the above topics as a starting point for this initial set of commissioned papers to guide the ARISE community.
Commissioned Papers (in press)
Working Title: A Synthesis of Research on and Measurement of STEM Teacher Preparation
Working Description: What is the status of research on and measurement of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) teacher preparation? While handbooks and research articles regularly summarize what we know about specific phenomena within STEM teacher preparation (e.g., National Research Council [NRC], 2000; Wilson, 2011), it is less common to review the research and measurement approaches taken to study STEM teacher preparation. That is the focus of this review, with an eye towards how to productively move forward a research agenda focused on issues of STEM teacher preparation. More specifically, the authors examine studies published during a three-year period to examine measurement and research design for preservice STEM education utilized, as well as the extent to which studies have focused on broad research goals. These include: understanding STEM PST learning and development, improving educator preparation programs, contributing to EPP accountability, describing and understanding relationships between STEM teacher preparation and other valued outcomes, understanding assessments and measurement of STEM teacher preparation quality.
Working Title: Teacher Preparation and Teacher Retention: Examining the Relationship for Beginning STEM Teachers
Working Description: 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. Several 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.
Working Title: Teacher Induction Programs Associated with Retention in the STEM Teaching Workforce
Working Description: 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 it 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.