Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Degree Granting Department
Curriculum and Instruction
Allan Feldman, Ph.D.
Deirdre Cobb-Roberts, Ph.D.
Sophia Han, Ph.D.
Stephen Thornton, Ph.D.
Action Research, Noyce, Science Education, STEM
A persistent shortage of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students, teachers, and professionals is seen by many as a threat to the nation’s global economic standing. Deficits in these areas are often attributed to a lack of quality K-12 STEM education, which is due in large part to a high rate of teacher turnover. Moreover, such teacher attrition has been shown to occur far more often in high-need schools and districts; thus serving to further marginalize disadvantaged members of society.
This study occurs within the context of The Robert Noyce Scholarship Program at our research-intensive university in the southeastern US. The program seeks to improve the recruitment, preparation, and retention of STEM teachers in high-need middle and secondary classrooms, and is likewise partnered with a large, local, title I school district. Central to this program’s approach is, the offering of financial, cohort and mentor support to highly qualified STEM degree holders and majors, who wish to supplement their undergraduate degree, with a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). As Noyce scholars work towards their degrees, they also, intern, work, and learn alongside peers, university faculty, district teachers and staff, as well as other science education professionals, in what amounts to a professional support network. It is hoped such a multi-tiered support will allow Noyce graduates to persist beyond their inductive teaching years and develop into highly qualified education practitioners.
This research was designed to explore the beliefs expressed, explored, and developed by Noyce scholars as they participated in a collaborative action research (CAR) based instructional intervention. The Noyce CoP as it was known, centered on a journal club, which was embedded within a master’s level science education field practicum course. Students engaged with literature and gained understanding relevant to the influence of belief systems on how we construct our identity, perceive the conditions in which it happens, and view ourselves and others as we go through the collective process. Access to these new teachers’ beliefs was gained via an online literature discussion board, reflective writings, surveys, and face-to-face collaboration during four “CoP meetings”. The latter proved to be invaluable in promoting opportunities for these new teachers to recognize, critique, and challenge their beliefs, and those of others as well. Accordingly, the CoP served as a research-focused arena for collaborative autobiographical self-reflection, which I contend is ideal for studying new teacher beliefs.
This research follows the path of other science education researchers who recognize the potential of studying new teachers’ beliefs’, to help overcome a perceived cultural disconnect, which has been credited with inhibiting K-12 science teaching and learning. To do so, I position the Noyce CoP as quintain, whose story is told using three themes I constructed: 1) new teacher beliefs about identity and science teaching and learning; 2) new teacher beliefs about home-life and science teaching and learning; and 3) new teacher beliefs about sociocultural-interactions and science teaching and learning. Throughout I incorporate elements of portraiture to not only give you a better idea of who the CoP members are, but also to allow you a view into our CoP meetings, and how we collaborated to construct new knowledge. Qualitative analysis revealed that during the CoP, the scholars and I were able to generate considerable understanding regarding the cultural divide that can exist when teaching science in high-need schools. Moreover, there is also evidence that the CoP served to help these new teachers develop personal and professional ties they can incorporate into their larger support network, and perhaps help them persist through their inductive years of teaching.
keywords: STEM, new teacher beliefs, action research, Noyce, community of practice
Scholar Commons Citation
Bradley, Frederick B. III, "Exploring New Teacher Beliefs: Identity, Home-life, and Culture in the Classroom" (2019). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.