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Improving Recruitment and Retention of Undergraduates Into STEM Teaching

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Listen and learn : Research paper
Roundtable presentation

Research papers are a pairing of two 20 minute presentations followed by a 5 minute Q & A.
This is presentation 1 of 2, scroll down to see more details.

Other presentations in this group:

Larry Medsker  
Jasmine Sami  

Learn about research that addresses how to improve recruitment and retention of STEM teachers for high-need schools through service scholarships like GW Noyce Scholarship Program and campus support. Grounded theory was used to structure and guide the research. Noyce staff interviewed George Washington University students enrolled in teaching courses, including Noyce Scholarship recipients.

Audience: Teachers, Teacher education/higher ed faculty
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Topic: Teacher education
Grade level: Community college/university
Subject area: Science, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Pursue professional interests by creating and actively participating in local and global learning networks.

Proposal summary


1.2 STEM Teacher Shortage
Teacher shortages are widespread in the U.S., especially making a detrimental impact in high-needs schools. The shortage of certified, high-quality STEM teachers is of great concern due to the significant need for these roles over the next decade (National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century, 2000). The relatively low number of teachers who graduate with STEM certifications is credited as one reason for this shortage (Hansen, Breazeale & Blankenship 2019). Because of this lack of quality STEM teachers, schools try to make up for this need, often with adverse impacts. In California, over 12,000 emergency certifications were issued during the 2016-2017 school year, with half of them being in math and science (Dee & Goldhaber, 2017). While the teacher shortage has affected many schools, it has hit disadvantaged schools arguably the hardest. In 2013, it was found that the turnover rate of STEM teachers in Title I schools was 70% higher than the rate of these teachers in non-Title I schools (Carver-Thomas & Darling-Hammond, 2017. “High need local educational agency” is defined in section 201 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as a district that serves an elementary or secondary school that meets one or more of the following criteria: a high percentage of students from families with incomes below the poverty line, a high percentage of secondary school teachers not teaching in the content area in which the teachers were trained to teach, or a high teacher turnover rate (20 U.S.C. 1021). One of the indicators of high need schools is the issue we are trying to alleviate through research: increasing the number of high-quality, STEM-educated students to pursue a career in STEM teaching. Understanding how high needs schools are defined is essential to changing how we recruit, train and retain teachers in these settings.

1.3 Improved Teacher Quality
Teacher quality has a major impact on student outcomes. Teachers serve the role as a mentor for their students, providing guidance and support in their educational careers. In terms of student achievement, teacher quality is the most important school-related factor (Rivkin, Hanushek & Kain, 2005). While teacher quality is an issue that faces all schools, high need schools struggle the most. They are often serving students with disabilities, low-income, minorities, and English learners. Unfortunately, these students are often paired with underprepared and unqualified educators (Goldhaber Lavery & Theobald 2015). Students who are in classrooms managed by good quality teachers are far more likely to graduate high school, attend higher education institutions, and earn high salaries (Chetty, Friedman, & Rockoff, 2011). A teacher with a BA or MA in math has a statistically positive impact on student achievement, compared to teachers with no advanced degrees or with degrees in non-mathematics subjects (Goldhaber and Brewer 1996). This supports the point that in order to teach effectively, teachers must be teaching subjects that they are specialized in. Teachers with STEM backgrounds provide mentorship to students who find affinity with these subjects. Without the positive role models, we will deter a generation of young people from STEM careers.

1.4 Improved Recruitment
To get more teachers into the field, effective recruitment measures must occur. Certification programs have created an organized, highly successful method to prepare students for careers in teaching. UTeach gives undergraduate students in STEM fields the opportunities to obtain teacher certification along with a primary STEM degree without adding to graduation time (Abell et al. 2006). The program began at the University of Texas, Austin, responding to the need for quality STEM teachers in public schools. This teacher preparation program offers courses that allow students to teach in diverse school settings, work one-on-one with students and receive guidance from college professors and practicing STEM teachers. This gives students the hands-on, real-life experience that teachers face in their day-to-day life. This is ideal considering teachers who maintained longevity in their careers noted that hands-on experiences were more helpful than listening to lectures about teaching (Jorissen, 2003 & Lortie 1975). Having a real-life understanding of what the role entails is essential to reduce turnover and to ensure expectations are realistic. In addition, academic advisors, faculty, and university personnel should provide assistance during students’ academic careers so they can make a seamless transition to becoming a teacher (Abell et al. 2006). With many in this country accruing debt to pursue their college careers, students are likely to choose professions that will result in the highest return on investment. The more debt accumulates, the less likely the college student will choose to work in a lower-wage profession. In order to address the teacher shortage, financial incentives may be a way to successfully recruit new teachers. Two major ways individuals are being enticed to teach is through loan forgiveness and service scholarship programs. These approaches have proven to be successful in the field of medicine (Podolsky, Kini 2016). Applying these solutions to college students who are interested in teaching but worried about financial burdens aims to alleviate the financial anxieties about pursuing a career in teaching.

1.5 Improved Retention
When the tasks of recruiting and training teachers has occurred, how do we prepare teachers for longevity in the field? Beginning in the 1980’s, many significant reports emerged about the severe teacher shortages in elementary and secondary schools (Darling-Hammond 1984). Two trends led to increased demand for teachers: increasing student enrollments and the natural attrition through “graying” of the teaching force (Ingersoll 2001). Longer, more experiential based training appears to result in longevity of careers (Jorissen 2003). Teacher turnover is highly correlated with chosen teaching field, and teachers who are focused in the fields of math and science are associated with higher rates of turnover (Boe, Bobbitt, Cook 1997). Studies have shown that age is a significant factor, with younger teachers having a higher rate of departure. Better preparation and experiential teaching practices in teacher preparation programs is thought to have high importance to improve retention. Multiple career changes are becoming common, and the nature of our new workforce presents a new challenge to reducing teacher turnover. Financial support plus mentorship from experienced teachers could minimize the stressors new teachers face in the first years of teaching (Boe, Bobbitt, Cook 1997).

1.6 Noyce Scholarship Program
The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program is a program that provides scholarships to STEM students who commit to two years of teaching in a high needs school for every year of scholarship received. The program was created in response to the critical need of talented K-12 teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, by encouraging students to pursue teaching careers in elementary and secondary schools. The program’s ultimate goal is to increase the number of teachers with a strong STEM background in high need areas (NSF Noyce, 2020). Scholarships up to $20,000 per year are awarded to qualified juniors and seniors admitted into Noyce programs. A 2007 survey of 555 Noyce Scholarship recipients found that 56% identified the scholarship as highly influential in their decision to complete their teacher certification program. About 70% of recipients noted that the Noyce scholarship influenced their commitment to teach in a high need school and remain there for the full term of their commitment (Liou, Kirchhoff, Lawrenz 2010). The higher the percentage of tuition covered by the scholarship, the greater the influence the funding had on the recipients’ decisions to become teachers and to teach in high need schools.

2. Research Plan and Methods
From this literature review, a few themes have emerged as potentially important for improving STEM teacher recruitment and retention. Mentorship, staff on campus who are educated about teacher preparation programs, and financial incentives to teach have shown to be positive influences on students who are interested in teaching. Increasing resources on campus and improving awareness with faculty is important to ensuring students will have a community that encourages a career in teaching, instead of not acknowledging it at all. An interesting paradox is the shortage of qualified individuals for high-paying STEM positions and the need for high-quality STEM teachers to combat this shortage. If you are trained to be a STEM teacher and you’re well-positioned to transition to a higher-paying position, why would you choose to be a teacher? Perhaps it boils down to personal motivations such as a genuine love of the field, instead of an interest in the most financial gain. A question arises about how realistic is the goal increasing the number of new, young teachers to commit to lifelong teaching. The literature review provided the Noyce staff insight into how to structure interview questions with GW students to get their personal narrative on STEM teacher careers.

2.1 Grounded Theory
For this study, Grounded theory emerged as a good theoretical framework for the type of data we are analyzing. Grounded theory is a method for creating systematic guidelines for gathering and analyzing data to generate theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss & Corbin, 1998) . It is based in the fundamental principle that research should and can generate evidence-based theory from analyses of empirical data. Our goal as researchers was to engage in simultaneous data collection and analysis. The process between looking at our data and previous related studies sparked the development of our research questions and was the starting point of developing our theory. From the start of the data analysis we planned to code the data and categorize these codes accordingly by themes in interviewing texts. From there we identified analytic leads and prospective categories to develop through further data collection. The goal of grounded theory starts with the concrete data and ends with an explanatory theory. Within the grounded theory approach, we began by collecting data, identifying useful information, coding similar concepts, forming concepts into categories, generating theory, and then finally verifying data within the field. Our explanatory theory is generated only from the data collected in the study.


2.2 Interview Sample
Our research site is George Washington University. We collected rich data, particularly from Step 1 and Step 2 introductory classes at the GWTeach program and from current Noyce Scholars. GWTeach is a teacher preparatory program at the university that prepares STEM students for careers in teaching. GWU has no education major for undergraduate students (GWTeach, 2020). GWTeach is a replication of the UTeach program at the University of Texas, Austin. Students in the introductory classes called Step 1 and Step 2 are a great sample because exploring teaching but are not completely committed. We also chose to interview Noyce Scholars, who have accepted the scholarship and committed to teach in high need school after graduation. The Scholars have a view of their teaching careers post-graduation and may offer valuable insight on outreach. These two groups of students will ensure different but interesting commentary on their ideas of teaching careers and the preparation needed to start these careers.

2.3 Recruitment of Survey Subjects
We used theoretical sampling, in which the researcher recruits participants who have gone through or are currently going through the process of career selection (Charmaz, Belgrave 2015). A member of the research team reached out to the professors teaching the introductory courses. The professor set up times for us to visit the classroom. We recruited Step 1 and Step 2 students by visiting their classrooms virtually. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we were not able to meet with students in person as originally planned. A member of the Noyce research team who does not make application decisions for the Noyce Scholarships, interviewed both samples of students. Students were told that their participation was voluntary and that it would not affect their grade in GWTeach or chances for a Noyce Scholarship. A member of the research team visited the Step 1 and 2 WebEx classrooms to introduce themselves and let students know about the research. Noyce Scholars were sent an email about the interview opportunity. Students were informed of a $20 gift card incentive for participating in this hour-long interview and a fifteen-minute survey. Our member of the research team doing interviews had not interacted with Step 1 and Step 2 students in a teaching or mentorship capacity. This member of the team anonymized data so other members of the research team will not be able to identify participants.

2.4 Interviews and Survey
Our method of data collection was semi-structured interviews. One-on-one interview was our preferred method to get the perspective of students without influence from other participants. This style of interview allowed responses to be casual and conversational. Hour-long interviews took place via WebEx. An informed consent form was sent to the student 24 hours before the interview. The member of the research team conducting the interview went through the consent form again with each participant to ensure they fully understood all components of the form. Interviews were recorded using Audacity within three days and the audio recording was then deleted after. Our sample included 5 GW students from GWTeach classes and the Noyce Scholar cohort. Interview questions were about the student’s personal relationship with higher education, interest in teaching, GWTeach, the Noyce Scholarship and ways to improve teacher preparation efforts on campus. Students who completed an interview were sent a follow-up survey after the interview concluded. The survey took no more than fifteen minutes. For our participants, we included an optional section of the survey that identifies demographic data.

2.5 Data Analysis
The interviewer used Audacity to record interviews in order to look back at the transcript to identify codes from the text. The audio files were transcribed through Spext and then was organized line-by-line distinguishing what was spoken by participant and interviewer. Open coding was used during our initial stage of analysis. With initial open coding, we conducted a detailed line-by-line analysis to find the initial codes, most of them were in-vivo codes (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). In-vivo codes allowed us to take the rich narrative provided by our participants and translate their words to higher-order code. (MaxQDA, 2020) software was used in order to code line-by-line and to categorize emergent open codes which transitioned to the high-level axial codes. Memoing was also used to keep track of how categories were beginning to explain the process at hand. We then transitioned the open codes into higher-order themes or axial codes (Lee, 1999). Axial coding was used to find categories that may be the core phenomenon, causal conditions, strategies and other ways the categories connect to each other (Glaser 1967). The following table is an example of the text excerpt that transitioned to definition then to the axial code of contextual teaching.
After transcription a member of our research team went through the interviews in text form and created code. Major themes that arose from the interviews included influence of academic advisors, career flexibility, fear of burnout, campus culture, service scholarship as recruitment tool, mentorship, financial burden and contextual teaching. From these common components, our research team is interested in understanding ways we can implement student perspectives in how we promote Noyce on campus and teaching as a career path. For our surveys, responses were analyzed for common themes and emergent experiences from participants.


3.0 Preliminary Findings
 Table 1 shows the results of applying Grounded theory (see the process described in section 2.4 above) to the interview text. The following discussion gives more detail about the meaning and significance of the resulting axial codes.

3.1 Influence of academic counselors
Interviewees mentioned a way that universities, especially GW, could better serve students interested in teaching would be to properly prepare academic advisors. Throughout a student’s college career, especially as freshman and sophomores, academic advisors are relied on for career guidance and resources on campus. In order to have a campus community that encourages teaching as a career, academic advisors must be well-versed in the teacher preparation offered on campus. This is especially important for students who are in STEM majors. Three of our STEM student interviewees mentioned that their professors discouraged them to consider teaching as a career. All of the students mentioned that their academic advisors were either not aware of GWTeach on campus or did not encourage them to pursue their interest in teaching. One student within the school of Arts and Sciences mentioned that their academic advisor was often not available or not able to help them with the selection of courses. When students would ask advisors on how to manage both GWTeach and their major’s course loads, advisors either were not overly helpful or would advise them against GWTeach courses. We found that students consistently learned about GWTeach and GW Noyce through new student orientations or other on-campus events, not through advisors. They noted that having an advisor who knew about the Noyce and GWTeach programs would have helped them begin earlier and perhaps interest more students in teaching careers. Not just that, an academic advisor could help the student fit both their major’s required courses and GWTeach courses. One student found out about GWTeach and Noyce in her senior year, too late to get the fullest experience of both programs. She also opted not to apply to the Noyce Scholarship because it was “too late”. They mentioned if given the opportunity, they would have started GWTeach coursework and applied for the scholarship earlier in this academic career. STEM Academic advisors should be aware and advise students of the Noyce Scholarship and GWTeach coursework to interested students.

3.2 Career flexibility
Most students were passionate and certain about pursuing teaching as a career once they graduated. Two had committed to Teach for America positions, noting the job placement and security as an incentive. While participants were certain about their teaching interest, they did also note how teaching could provide them with flexibility in their career. One interviewee mentioned how teaching would allow them to work during the school year, while also getting their real estate license, which is a flexible career where you can set your own hours. They believed that teaching provided a consistent income while also giving some room for side hustles. Another interviewee mentioned how they weren’t concerned about perceived low pay as they were going to teach in a city with low cost of living and relatively high teacher pay. This participant mentioned that they would teach for the necessary years of their TFA requirement and perhaps transition to another job if they did not feel as passionate about teaching. One student mentioned that having an experienced STEM teacher who has an interesting, flexible career should come into STEM classrooms to tell students about their experience. The Career Center was also mentioned as a potential resource for students interested in teaching.

3.3 Fear of burnout
Participants were concerned with the fear of the unknown when asked about teaching as a lifelong career. One of the participants had been told that the first few years of teaching were especially difficult from their peers and through classes. While they were passionate about teaching, they were concerned about burnout as it is common with new teachers, especially in high needs schools. Concern was expressed about the level of mentorship and aid that would be provided once new teachers enter the field. In the college setting, students are prepared through coursework and field teaching. While these are helpful ways to prepare students, once they are in their role full-time it is easy to get overwhelmed with the workload and lack of resources provided by the school. Participants mentioned mentorship from experienced teachers and funding for needed classroom equipment may help ease the stress to reduce burnout. Additionally, continued teacher training was mentioned as a way for new teachers to learn new methods to apply in their classrooms.

3.4 Campus culture
All participants noted that teaching is not promoted throughout the GW community as a viable career option, especially for those in STEM areas. Messaging and advertising on campus for STEM majors are related to research and careers in medicine. Aside from GWTeach, students emphasized that there wasn’t a strong presence from the campus community about the importance of teaching, let alone STEM teaching. Campus culture was noted as very important and participants perceived the GW community as not having a receptive STEM community. They associated STEM with being more rigid and focused on financial gain. With previously noted lack of support from STEM faculty and advisors, STEM students are not even presented with the opportunity of a teaching career. One student mentioned that an experienced STEM teacher coming into STEM classrooms to tell students about their experience could help clarify and dispel myths about the field.

3.5 Service scholarship as a recruitment tool
Our participants perceived merit scholarships for teaching, like Noyce, very positively in order to aid students to pursue a career in teaching. Students were often first introduced to the Noyce program through classroom announcements made by Noyce faculty and Noyce Scholars. They had attended Noyce tabling events and knew Noyce Scholars from their classes. Three participants also mentioned being spoken to one-on-one, being encouraged to apply for the scholarship by faculty. Students conveyed misconceptions they had about the program that delayed or prevented them from applying. One mentioned that they thought the Noyce Scholarship required time commitments during their college career that would take away from their coursework and mentor teaching. They mentioned that due to this perceived rigidity they waited until the spring to do more research about what the program really required from students. Another student mentioned that they weren’t sure if they were able to apply due to be a freshman. It seemed like students did know the Noyce Scholarship by name but did not understand what the program entails and the requirements of the program.
Overall, all participants believed that service scholarships for teaching would allow for students to have fewer financial burdens and more time to pursue their passion of teaching. With student loan debt looming over many college students, scholarships make a great impact on reducing financial strains after graduation. Without this scholarship, some noted that they would consider other careers that would have a higher ROI, in order to reduce student loan debt. For students who were already considering a career in teaching, the Noyce Scholarship was perceived to be a natural fit. The only concern interviewees had was about STEM students who might pursue the Noyce Scholarship purely for financial gain. Concerns about STEM students boiled down to their motivations. Students who are motivated purely by the scholarship and not by genuine love of teaching could lead to burnout, lower teacher quality, and higher attrition rates. Some participants note that many of their STEM peers only considered teaching a hobby or a temporary career before heading off to medical or other higher education. Participants considered these types of students different than those who were genuinely passionate about a lifelong career of teaching.

3.6 Mentorship
Students mentioned elements of mentorship in two keys way. The first was being mentored at an early age in the classroom. Many students had positive experiences with teachers who engaged them in ways that inspired them. Some had family members who were teachers and growing up with having a loved one in the teaching field allowed them to see the impact their loved one was making on the classroom. One student in particular noted that grandparents who were both teachers would bring them to school often and they became close with many of the teachers in the school. This deeper understand and appreciation for teachers through a personal connection led this student to have a love for teaching careers from a young age. Another participant noted that their first experience teaching was when her grammar teacher asked her to lead the class in a session. The teacher pushed her not only to understand the content, but to convey it well in the classroom. The participant noted that this was her first experience teaching and the confidence the teacher had in her was the catalyst for her being interested in teaching as a career. Also, the facts that her teacher was a person of color and had a doctorate impacted the participant in the sense that she wanted to be that same role model and mentor for her future students.
The second way mentorship arose was the participants’ desire to be mentors themselves. Many of the students who experienced mentorship from their educators wanted to pay it forward by being that mentor for their own classes. A student that was interested in teaching in high needs schools mentioned that she wanted her background as a person of color and as an immigrant to inspire young people with similar backgrounds to pursue higher education. One excerpt from the interviews that especially stuck out was this:

"For several reasons, I think just from like family experiences, community perspectives and seeing high-needs areas…I've always wanted to go in areas where there is a not much representation of me in there."

 The role of mentorship from an early age can transform a young student’s perceptions on careers. For many of our participants, that greatly impacted their decisions to take GWTeach classes and their commitment to pursue careers in teaching.

3.7 Financial burden
Our participants noted that their financial situation was something they considered regarding post-graduation career ideas. Many noted that they were aware of the salaries teachers typically earn and were either unphased or aware of not being the high-paying career that many STEM students typically want. One surprising note we heard was that for some participants, they weren’t phased by low pay due to the fact that they were planning on teaching in areas with low costs of living. With low cost of living and her teacher pay, she mentioned that she would likely be able to live a comfortable lifestyle with minimal financial pressure. Other students also noted their choices to teach as opportunities to save money, especially for those who had received service scholarships like Noyce and those deciding to live at home with parents.
Another emergent topic we saw within financial burden was the perceptions of finances from families of participants that were interested in teaching. One student who had applied and had been accepted for the Noyce Scholarship described the difficult conversation she had with her parents who had expectations of her career going into medicine. She mentioned that the conflict boiled down to her parents’ concern about not being in a high-paying field. For other participants, they wondered whether or not they were getting a proper return on investment for their pricey college education if they taught after graduation. Three participants noted that the service scholarships like Noyce do mitigate the fear of financial burden, but it is still something they think about in relation to a life-long career in teaching.

3.8 Contextual teaching
All participants explained how in-person, real-life experiences with teachers, teaching, and being immersed in the classroom has helped them gain confidence as future teachers. Due to how GWTeach is structured, students who take Step 1 and 2 classes are taught methods in class and then are brought into DC public school classrooms to assist teachers and lead lessons themselves. Participants found the in-class experience one of the biggest catalysts for solidifying their interests in teaching. They found the real-life application of the things they learned in class came to life in the DC classrooms. Most students mentioned how the in-class experience of leading a classroom ignited this passion they have to teach. They noted being excited and motivated to go into the classroom to use the methods they had learned. Without these experiences teaching, participants said that they would feel less confident. The most valuable experience participants noted as helpful for new teachers was having time in the classroom and guidance from experienced teachers. Also, having the teacher in class to lean on and ask for advice was of great importance to them.
An interesting idea multiple participants discussed was that more STEM students would be interested in teaching if experienced STEM teachers could visit GWTeach and Career Center events. Teachers with flexible careers, dynamic ways of teaching, with STEM backgrounds could allow STEM students with an interest in teaching to visualize themselves in the field. Participants noted that events do happen on campus for working professionals to talk to students about their careers, but they were very rarely teachers. Having experienced teachers visit STEM classrooms may help provide more visibility of teaching careers.

4.0 Summary of Results
Consistently throughout our interviews we found that participants believed that campus culture should be improved to encourage teaching as careers for college students. Participants stated that advisors, professors within STEM areas, and the campus culture at GW did not actively endorse or promote teaching careers. To interest students in any career, advocates at the university level are need for encouraging the students. Universities need to acknowledge academic and career paths for students who are interested in pursuing teaching. For STEM departments, academic advisors must have the proper information about teacher preparation and service scholarships on campus. Especially for STEM students interested in teaching, advisors should have an understanding of GWTeach and the GWNoyce Scholarship programs for supporting their students and be able to educate prospective students and applicants about the opportunities available for reducing financial strain.
Considering GW does not have an education major for undergraduate students, historical low visibility of service scholarship programs for STEM teaching is understandable. To remedy this, the Noyce program must be prominent in STEM departments in addition to GWTeach classes. Without increasing visibility, students will not know the opportunities that can help them pursue their careers of interest while also reducing financial pressure. Overall campus culture at GW needs to shift towards more positive and supportive sentiments towards careers in teaching. Informing and motivating the advisors, inviting experienced teachers to speak with students, and promoting teaching as viable career in the same way as for STEM and medical careers must be enhanced in the campus culture. Without this, only the highly motivated will pursue teaching. Otherwise, students who are not aware of teaching careers and get misinformation will continue to lose the opportunities of teaching careers.

4.1 Tentative Data-based Theory
Major themes that arose from the interviews included influence of academic advisors, career flexibility, fear of burnout, campus culture, service scholarship as recruitment tool, mentorship, financial burden and contextual teaching. We are still in the process of data collection, so our theories may evolve with further interviews and surveys. We found many of the themes that arose through interviews related directly to campus culture suggesting a large impact on teaching career selection and visibility. Universities can improve campus culture for those interested in STEM teaching by showing it is a valuable career as is done for other fields. This can be done through improving advising, having more career-focused events that highlight teaching careers and featuring experienced teachers. GWTeach has been a massive resource for students interested in teaching, but increased visibility and support through advising can help STEM students who are curious about teaching. In addition, service scholarships can be an effective recruitment tool to commit students to teaching careers. For most participants, the Noyce Scholarship solidified their commitment to teaching, while also ensuring some financial pressure off of them. While Noyce is very visible to GWTeach students, according to participants, visibility needs much improvement within STEM departments themselves. Overall, in order to recruit new teachers through service scholarships and relevant coursework, GW as a whole must emphasize the importance and value of STEM teaching.

4.2 Limitations
One limitation of this research is the small sample size. Due to the nature and design of our study, our results are not yet generalizable. In addition to the sample size, some of our results may be unique to the students at GW’s campus. While possibly relevant to other schools with Noyce programs, some of our results may be different at other types of campuses. Access to students was limited due to the fact that our campus transitioned to online instruction by March 2020. Students may have been overwhelmed with coursework and balancing a new normal. It's possible that recruitment for interviews could have been affected by low morale.


5.0 Conclusions and future research directions
The next stage in our research is to use the preliminary results to re-work the interview questions and meet with additional students for a larger sample. We will also use our current results to create more detailed quantitative and qualitative surveys. Some interview questions may be reworded for clarity and repetitive questions will be removed. A mixed methods analysis will have a better understanding of why students decide in favor of, or decide against, careers in STEM teaching, how the Noyce program can address those issues, and how the insights from this research can inform the methods and processes used to recruit students into Noyce programs, all of these with the goal of increasing the number and quality of STEM teachers in high needs schools. While no clear consensus emerged on how we can effectively recruit and retain STEM teachers, this work is a step toward efforts that need to be made to increase the number of high-quality STEM teachers and reduce teacher turnover. Loan forgiveness and service scholarships for those who decide to commit to years of teaching may be shown be an effective way to recruit teachers, but more work needs to be done to understand the detailed best practices for recruitment and retention. As the research reported here continues, interviews and text analysis methods, including Grounded theory, look promising and are in progress, along with quantitative analyses, with the goal to evolve and verify a useful theory of recruitment and retention.


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Larry Medsker, George Washington University
Jasmine Sami, George Washington University
Graduate student

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