With a $426,500 National Science Foundation grant, CEISMC will study the role of social networks and self-efficacy in teacher retention at high-needs schools.
Aug 16, 2017 | Atlanta, GA
Georgia Tech’s CEISMC has been awarded a two-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant of $426,500 for a study titled, “An Exploratory Study: The Role of Social Networks and Self-Efficacy in the Retention of Noyce Teachers.” The study will examine retention of participants of the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program in schools that are considered to have high needs.
“This is a potentially groundbreaking study which could revolutionize how we train and support STEM teachers in the future.” says Lizanne DeStefano, executive director of CEISMC.
More than 300 NSF-funded Noyce programs operate across the U.S. Although they have varied methods and goals, they all share a core mission to recruit and prepare highly effective K-12 STEM educators to teach in high-needs academic environments.
High-needs schools typically have a high student population that is below the poverty line, have low retention of teachers and administrative personnel, and employ some teachers that are uncertified or teaching outside their field.
Participants in Noyce programs must remain in a high-needs school for at least four years after graduating. Once placed, some teachers may find that the challenging learning environment, lack of resources, diminished curriculum support, or remote school location hampers their ability to thrive. They may decide to relocate to a different school or switch to another career.
It is uncommon for Noyce teachers to renege on their four-year commitment. Nevertheless, this study seeks to understand how colleagues, school administrators, mentors, and others in their support system or social network affect the teachers’ ability or desire to continue to work in a high-needs environment.
Many factors affecting a new teacher’s decision to change career come in play in the first few years on the job. The Noyce program aims to help new teachers succeed. For this reason, the study population includes only early-career teachers or those who have taught full-time for five years or less. These teachers graduated from a Masters of Arts in Teaching program between 2011 and 2016.
The study will also analyze whether a teacher’s belief in their ability to teach a subject well or achieve a goal helps Noyce teachers remain in their assigned schools, where this self-efficacy comes from, how it is acquired, and its relationship to teachers’ networks.
“Through this study, CEISMC will be filling an important gap in the literature about teacher retention in high-needs schools,” says Meltem Alemdar, the study’s principal investigator, CEISMC associate director, and senior research scientist. “Social network analysis is a very useful method to study the dynamics of people’s interactions. We have been using it in some small studies, and we are excited to work with large data sets.”
The study will develop a validated survey of teacher personal networks. The goal is to use the survey to guide the orientation and training of new participants to the Noyce programs to better prepare them for their role as STEM teachers in high-needs schools. In addition, the study will update the Noyce Teacher scholar database, which will be publicly available through the study’s website.
This will be the first major grant for Research Associate Christopher Cappelli, who is a co-principal investigator. He looks forward to being a part of this project and using his skills in coding, modeling, and analyzing data. Shaheen Rana, a research associate at CEISMC, will do literature reviews, survey development, and data collection.
“It’s exciting to bring together all the different interests and expertise we have and figure out how those fit together,” says Jessica Gale, the study’s co-principal investigator and CEISMC research scientist.
This exploratory study is funded by the National Science Foundation award # 1660597. You can learn more and read the study abstract at https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1660597.
By Steven L. Taylor - CEISMC Communications