Biology Professor Bo Idsardi Awarded NSF Grant

Project seeks to understand persistence and retention of newly hired secondary science teachers

February 24, 2022 By jallen73
Bo Idsardi

Resources Accessed to Cultivate and Encourage Resilience (RACER) is an NSF-funded project focused on understanding the persistence and retention of newly hired secondary science teachers in high-need settings. Dr. Bo Idsardi (Co-PI) at EWU is collaborating with Dr. Shannon Navy (PI) and Dr. Lisa Borgerding (Co-PI) at Kent State University and Dr. Julie Luft (Co-PI) the University of Georgia. RACER will focus on early career science teachers’ access to and use of resources to develop a better understanding of how to build resilience during teacher preparation programs and early career professional support.

Studies on teacher retention are important because they provide information about the adequacy of teacher preparation programs and the support provided to newly hired teachers. Science teacher turnover is often the result of burnout, and for years has led to science teacher shortages nationwide. The pandemic and economic effects have exasperated these teacher turnover problems, making studies on resilience particularly timely.

In RACER, we are using a unique orientation towards understating the persistence of newly hired teachers by viewing resilience through the use of resources. By studying how newly hired science teachers access and use resources (or not) and their resilience, it will be possible to understand how resources can contribute to resilience. This study will provide a more nuanced picture of the personal and contextual factors that influence the persistence of newly hired teachers.

To understand the relationship of resilience and resources, we will use interviews, classroom observations, and surveys with a group of geographically diverse newly hired science teachers across a two-year period. These longitudinal data will capture changes in teachers’ access to and use of resources and their resilience. Data will be analyzed to understand: the resources that newly hired science teachers use, how newly hired teachers develop and portray resilience, and the relationship between resources, resilience, and burnout in newly hired science teachers

The findings from this study will have implications for the design and enactment of preservice and induction programs. From this study, there may be conclusions that suggest how preservice programs and induction programs support the learning of teachers. This is important when new teachers encounter difficult situations (e.g., high turnover schools, trauma-inducing events). When newly hired teachers are resilient through their acquisition of resources, they can continue to improve their instruction and knowledge, stay in teaching longer and ultimately ensure student learning. For high-needs school districts, persistent teachers contribute to the teaching community. They continue to work with their colleagues, instead of leaving the profession. This results in an enhanced STEM teaching workforce and improved accountability ratings. For teachers, knowing what resources to access improves their well-being and their science instruction. When teachers can strategically use resources, they will continue to develop professionally. For students, the impact is significant. Students who historically experience teacher turnover and burnout are left behind intellectually in science. They rarely experience the wonder and enjoyment of science. When teachers are resilient, students who have historically been outside of the STEM pipeline have a chance to enter this pipeline. Thus, a more diverse STEM workforce is created in the United States.