In1996 the National Science Education Standards stated that “All Americans,familiar with basic scientific ideas and processes, can have fuller and moreproductive lives” (National Research Council NRC, 1996, p. ix). Having a strong foundation in science canenable individuals to comprehend current events, make informed decisions aboutusing technology, or one’s own healthcare. It is no doubt that scienceeducation is therefore important and central to the lives of all Americans(National Academy of Sciences, 2012). Currently, the United States has adoptedthe Next Generation Science Standards to advance science education tounprecedented levels.
The intent is to notonly deliver content but to also stimulate and help build interest in Science,Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology (STEM) for today’s students. As aresult, science educators strive towards excellence to meet these goals.Currently,the U.S. has experienced some growth in science achievement. According to theNational Assessment of Educational Progress NAEP 2016, student assessment atfourth, eight, and twelfth grade from 2009 through 2015 experienced a 2%increase.
Trends in the International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) indicatedthat fourth and eighth graders have experienced incremental improvement from1995-2015 with an increase of 4-17 points. Although the data reported anincrease in average points, the difference between the average scores are notstatistically significant. Another international assessment, the Program forInternational Student Assessment PISA ranked above the international averageby three points. The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and DevelopmentOECD 2015 results reported a two point increase in the past three years andranks 25 out of the 70 participating countries.
Although the U.S. hasexperience this growth and ranks in the top 36% it is not significantlydifferent from the OECD average. Recent international comparative assessmentshave shown positive growth in average scores for U.S.
students’ performance dueto science education reform efforts. Growth however, has been slow andincremental revealing that efforts to improve science education shouldcontinue. Teacherquality has been identified as a significant factor linked to studentperformance. A teacher’s impact on student achievement is arguably greater thanother factors such as school organization, leadership, and financial condition(Kastberg et al.
, 2006).TIMSS surveys of science teachers show that a teacher’s ability to delivercontent, their instructional style, material, and activities chosen to deliverinstruction are all linked to the quality of their teaching practices (Roth et al., 2006). Allen (2010) suggests that staffing schools with well-qualifiedteachers is especially critical in science because the highly technicalsubjects can only be taught by individuals with a sold grasp of the discipline,solid training in one science field does not necessarily qualify an individualto teach successfully in another science field, and a political commitment toincrease science skills for our nation’s students can only be met byrecruiting, preparing, and hiring teachers with solid qualifications. Accordingto National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2015) the ScienceTeaching Workforce at a Glance reveals that elementary teachers with abachelor’s degree in science, engineering, or science education make up 5%,middle school teachers make up 41%, and high school teachers make up 82%. TheNational Science Teachers Associate (NSTA) recommends that elementary teachers should be prepared toteach life, earth, and physical sciences. Banilower et al.
, (2013) found that only 36% ofelementary teachers reported completing college preparation course in all threeareas, 38% reported completed two of the three content areas, 20% completed oneof the three content areas, and 6% reported not having taken any collegecourses in science. Although most elementary school teachers have completed atleast one course in a science topic in their preparation of science teachingthey are considerably less prepared to engage their students in scientificinvestigations. On the other end of thespectrum, high school science teachers who majored in science are also unlikelyto have had the opportunity to engage in authentic scientific investigationswhich are closely integrated with the core science ideas and crosscutting conceptsindicated by the Next Generation Science Standards NGSS, (National Research Council, 2006,2012). Ournation is in need of more highly qualified science teachers. The U.S. incomparison to other high-performing nations has developed fewer and lower-stakesfilters of science teacher recruitment and retention (Wang, Coleman, Coley, & Phelps, 2003).
Anothernational survey (Birmanet. Al., 2007) found that 65% of school district experienced difficultyattracted highly qualified teachers in science.
As a result, attention needs tobe placed on teacher quality and explore ways to promote it. National reportssuggest that science teachers should demonstrate greater pedagogicalproficiency in the classroom in order to improve national competitiveness inglobal economies (NationalResearch Council NRC, 2001; National Commission on Mathematics & ScienceTeaching, 2000; Committee on Science & Mathematics Teacher PreparationCSMTP, 2010). Ingersollet al.
, (2007) suggested that some factors that may hinder teacherquality and the success of science education programs may include teachershortage, teacher preparation programs, professional development,social-cultural support, and educational policy. Ournation has suffered a shortage of qualified science teachers for over twodecades according to The U.S. Department of Education Nationwide Listing from 1990-91through 2017-18 Teacher Shortage Area (2017) report.
Since the No Child Left Behind Actof 2001, requirements of highly certified teachers have been in place. Asdefined by the Code of Federal Regulations, a highly certified teachers isdefined as an individual who holds a bachelor’s degree, full statecertification or licensure, and demonstrates proficiency in the subject matterthey teach (34 CFR 200.55). Science education has beena problematic discipline in the supply and demand of teachers.
The theory ofsupply and demand of the “quantity of teachers indicates that teachers demandedis greater than the quantity of teachers supplied” (Ingersoll and Perda, 2009). Teachershortages result in education reform efforts that target the production of newand preservice teachers and often neglects the impact of preretirement turnoverteachers and Ingersoll’s and Perda’s (2009) study indicate that staffing problemsare largely the result of preretirement turnover. The amount of science teachercandidates was significantly lower than the amount of teachers leaving theprofession. Ingersoll’s and Perda’s study found that only 46% of teachercandidates who were hired (Ingersoll & Perda, 2009).
Otherfactors that may cause a shortage in science teacher quality include teacherpreparation programs, teacher certification and alternative certificationprograms, employment, and professional development may be the cause (Arabaugh, Abell, Lannin,Volkmann, & Boone, 2007; Escalada & Meoller, 2006; Freidrichsen,Lannin, Abel, Arabaugh, & Volkmann, 2008; Ingersoll et al., 2007; Shaw,2008; Wang et al., 2003). Teacher preparation programs support effortsto address teacher shortages. In science education specifically, positions arefilled with alternatively certified teachers more than other subject areas (Zumwalt & Craig, 2005).Miller, (2013) reported that secondary science teachers are more likely toenter teaching through an alternative means rather than the traditionaluniversity-based teacher preparation. Different from a traditional teacherpreparation programs, alternative certification programs prepare individuals inpedagogy and practice who already have a degree in a science field. Alternativecertified teachers are often hired under a provisional, transitional, andemergency licenses which allow individuals to teach before they are completelycertified teachers.
According to Arbaugh et al., (2007), 18-20% of all science teachers areprepared through alternative routes. Shortages in science teachers results inhigh numbers of positions filled with teachers who lack high qualifications forteaching science.
ScienceTeacher shortages are not only due to an unbalanced supply and demand ofteachers in schools, but also due to high turnover rates. The 2017 report bythe National Foundation for Education Research (NFER), found that science andmath teachers had equally the highest rate of teachers who left the professionat over 10%. The NFERanalysis of School Workforce Census data reported over 15% of science teachersleft the profession in less than one year teaching. The percentage of teachersleaving the profession dropped to about 5% only after six year teaching. Secondaryteachers were also the highest rated population of teachers to leave theprofession.
In a recent article by Carver-Thomas and Darling-Hammond (2017),the authors state that high turnover rates negatively impacts studentachievement in all classrooms, not just new teachers. High turnover rates alsoimpact significant financial costs related to recruitment, hiring, and trainingranging from $9,000-$20,000 per teacher depending on rural or urban schooldistricts. The authors suggests that in addition to so much money used tosupport new teachers, it should also be used to “include mentoring and learningopportunities for experienced teachers to increase effectiveness (Carver-Thomasand Darling-Hammond, 2017).” Support for science teachers should not only belimited to those entering the profession but those who have years alreadyinvested in the classroom.
Supportingscience education requires providing rich learning opportunities for sciencelearning for teachers. The NationalScience Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education have conducted rigorousresearch efforts and development to better understand how to best supportscience teachers. According to the National Academy of Sciences (2015) report,the most effective professional learning focuses on content in addition topedagogy. Effective learning also includes active learning, providesconsistency across learning experience with school, district, and statepolicies, has sufficient duration to allow repeated practice and reflection onclassroom experiences, and brings together teachers with similar experiences orneeds (Daehler, 2016).” With theadoption of the Next Generation Science Standards, teachers are faced with morerigorous expectations and curriculum thus causing greater complexity to thescience teaching profession. The National Academy of Science (2015) indicatedthat many science teachers lack sufficiently rich experiences in scienceeducation because they often were not taught in the ways of the new standards.
Daehler(2016) found that science teachers benefit most from actively engaging inscientific practices such as asking questions, gathering and analyzing data,and engaging in scientific argumentation. Many school districts lack theresources to effectively ensure that teachers are thoroughly grounded in basicscience concepts such as life science, earth science and physical science(Daehler, 2016). As a result, teachers often work to develop and continue todevelop their own professional identities as science teachers through theirparticipation in communities of practice.
Acommunity of practice is defined as a group of people who “share a concern or apassion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interactregularly” (Wenger-Trayner,2015). Groups that work together for a shared knowledge construction participatein a community of practice (Lave& Wenger, 1999). According tothis definition, teachers are inherently part of a community of practice attheir campus because they interact with other teachers regularly about student,parents, and policy. Teachers create and develop a repertoire of resources suchas their experience, stories, tools, and way of addressing problems daily. Beinga teacher of science in a secondary school setting is its own community of practice.Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner’s (2015) describe three crucialcharacteristics of a community of practice; Domain, community, and practice. In Domain, the community of practice consistsof a shared interest. Science teachers at the secondary level are the essentialexperts in their given area such as physics, biology, geology, or astronomy.
These teachers share an interest in the subjectmatter in addition to sharing an interest in ensuring student mastery of thesubject. In Community, the individuals within the community of practice pursue theirinterest by engaging in joint activities and discussions that help as they shareinformation. Science teachers participate in professional learning communities (PLC’s)and professional development (PD) in which opportunities are provided thatenable teachers to discuss science curriculum, science pedagogy, and work todevelop lesson plans. In Practice, the individuals within the community ofpractice are considered practitioners. Through time and sustained interaction,individuals develop a shared practice that may become autonomous.
Scienceteachers who meet regularly for PLC’s may discuss lab procedures connected to thecurriculum being taught. In turn, they may not realize that these discussionsare one of their main sources of knowledge about lab activities and set up. Wenger-Traynernote that only the combination of these three elements constitute what is meantby a community of practice. Communitiesof practice affect educational practices through mutual construction ofknowledge. Learning does not take place in a vacuum but is a social and experientialendeavor. Andragogy? Wenger-Trayner (2015) indicate that teacher training isthe first application of communities of practice and is a growing area of interestfor peer-to-peer professional development activities. Deneroff’s (2013) stresses that professionaldevelopment with science teachers must enable the growth of new knowledge and beself-sustaining.
Professional development should provide opportunities for scienceteachers to construct knowledge for themselves through the interactions withother science teachers (Cranton,1996; Lave & Wenger, 1999; Rogoff, 1994; Vygotsky, 1978). Deneroff (2012) argues that professional development is situated,embodied, and storied through a transformation of identity. She states that inorder to understand the essence of learning we must explore the relationshipbetween professional development and teaching practice (Deneroff, 2013). Teachersare constantly transformed by their learning as they actively participate inprofessional development. When a teacher enters the teaching profession, growthoften becomes limited as opportunities for explicit professional development forscience diminish. Content-specific professional development offered by largeschool districts is usually based on federal funding in conjunction with theneeds of each district’s assessment data. Despite this, science teacherscontinue seek other opportunities for professional development to help themreshape, refine, and even redefine their pedagogical craft. Science teacherslearn from their day-to-day interaction with other science teachers, their own experiences,cultural values, background, population of students they serve, and theirparticipation, or lack of participation, within their own teaching community.
Scienceteachers may belong to alternative communities of practice that support theirneeds. These alternative communities may include outside organizations orgroups. They may also be situated within virtual groups or associations consistingwith other science teachers from across the nation and globally. Scienceteachers who serve as mentors to new teachers opens the door to a smallercommunity of practice. Mentor teachers learn to maneuver and emerge withintheir new space. The new community may consist of mentor teachers who becamementors by default, by choice, or by appointment.
The science teacher communityof mentors may affect their professional learning through their perceived professionalidentity.Scienceteacher identity is a growing area of research that is important in ourcontinued quest to deepen our understanding of science teacher education. In thepast decade alone, the construct of teacher identity has been of growinginterest to researchers. Leading science education journals have published increasedarticles about teacher identity along with discussions about interventions thatmay support teacher identity development.
Teacher identity has been studiedthrough multidimensional sociocultural lenses that aim to create a deeperunderstanding of teacher development (Rodgers& Scott, 2008). In Avraamidou’s (2014) article on ‘Studying science teacher identity’,she stresses the importance of understanding identity within the field of educationbecause it “offers a comprehensive construct of studying teacher learning anddevelopment, which goes beyond knowledge and skills” (p. 146).
Avraamidou’s (p. 164) comprehensive synthesisof the literature offers the following insights in the areas of science teacheridentity and identity development: · Identity offers a powerful andmultidimensional lens to studying teacher learning and development.· The construct of teacher identityhighlights the role of the context in teacher learning and development.· The construct of teacher identity has thepotential to shed light on teachers’ personal histories in relation to science.
· The construct of teacher identity allowsus to examine the impact of social markers on teacher learning and development(age, gender, emotions and ethnicity status).Thefindings from these studies support the idea that teacher identity ismultidimensional and is a construct that can be used to study teacher learningand development. A close relationship exists between identity and practice andstudying identity studying identity helps us to understand how learning “transformswho we are and what we can do” (Wenger, 1998, p.
215). Bullough, (1997) indicates that teacher identity is the “basisof meaning making and decision making” (p. 21). Teacher identity has been shown to predicta teacher’s performance, retention, burnout, and turnover (Brown, 2006: Day, Elliot, , 2005: Snyder & Spreitz, 1984). Science teachers’ senseof self and professional identity have been a cause for concern in theliterature.
A deeper understanding of the relationship between science teacher identityand science teacher professional development is critical for helping scienceteachers sustain and grow their teaching profession (Eick & Reed, 2002; Eick,2009; Friedrchsen et al., 2008; Henderson & Bradey, 2006; Luehmann, 2007Proweller & Mitchener, 2004; Varelas, House & Wenzel, 2004; Volkmann& Anderson, 1998). These studies have found that teachers who had astrong sense of identity may be more motivated, committed to their profession,satisfied, and more effective in science teaching. Byexamining the experiences of mentor teachers, this study will investigate theprofessional growth and revitalization that teachers experience through servingas a mentor to new teachers. This study will also analyze what components ofthe role of mentoring cause a transformation in the professional teachingpractices of adult learners which may serve as a form of professionaldevelopment. Mentoringbeginning teachers within the school-based setting is recognized as anessential means for supporting their professional development towards becomingaccomplished and distinguished teachers (Hobson, Ashby, Malderez, & Tomplinson, 2009;Koballa & Bradbury, 2009; Want & Odell, 2002). Veteran teacherswho mentor new teacher experience transformations in their own pedagogy underspecific conditions.
Zuckerman(2001) asserts that a transformation will occur when a collaborativerelationship exists between the mentor and the beginning teacher despite lackof support in formal mentoring programs. In her study with veteran teachers’mentoring experiences, she found that “the very process of collaborating “notonly transforms the mentees but the mentors own transformation as well”(p. 26).
“RR1 Understanding thelearning that involved while mentoringRR2 beginning science teachersRR3 isimportant to the success of continued professional development of mentorteachers. Through the mentoring process, a great potential exists for theprofessional development of the veteran teacher (Zuckerman, 2001; Healy & Welchert, 1990). “Mentoring is often thought to be abenefit only to the new educator, overlooking benefits to veteran teachers” (Carr, Herman, & Harris,2005). Carr et al. argues that mentors are merely the givers ofknowledge who receive nothing in return. This research will seek evidence tocounter this narrow one-sided argument. Little research exists on how mentoringitself contributes to the professional development of the experienced teacher (Hanson & Moir, 2006).In a study by Huling and Resta (2001) it was found that the benefits ofmentoring included such characteristics as improved professional competence,increased reflection on the mentor’s own practice, a reports sense of renewal,and building the mentor’s capacity for leadership.
Learningis complex and multidimensional and exists in almost every facet of life, evenin areas not generally seen as learning opportunities. Just as student learningis shaped by their environment and experiences, experienced science teacherscontinue to learn within their community of practice. This research willattempt to identify learning that occurs for teachers who mentor new teachers. Researchthat focuses on the learning and professional growth of specifically for mentorscience teachers is lacking. This dissertation will investigate the learningthat takes place during the mentoring process while an expert teacher mentors anew teacher within the context of secondary science education.
Research QuestionsThefocus of the research questions for this study is mentor science teachers andthe factors that affect teachers’ professional identity and pedagogy. GuidingQuestion- How does serving as a mentor teacher shape science teachers’ identitythrough their professional practices?1. Does a science teachers’ experience as amentor support their professional and pedagogical learning? If so, how?2. How is a science teachers’ professionalidentity within a community of practice RR4 MNM5 impacted by serving as a mentor to new teachersRR6 MNM7 ? Other possible way to phrase this:What role does mentoring novice teachers play in the development of a scienceteacher identity? Doesserving as a mentor promote a communityof inquiry RR8 MNM9 for science teachers? Howdo these factors influence the professional identity of mentor teachers as theymentor a student teacher?Problem StatementTeachingscience at the secondary level requires a deep understanding of scientificknowledge and concepts through ongoing mediated practice. A good scienceteacher creates opportunities for students to learn by taking the essences ofscience and reshaping concepts to meet the specific needs of the students whileproviding hands-on experiences in deliberate ways. Science teachers who take onthe role of mentoring a student teacher must help to instill the ability forfuture teachers to develop lessons that fundamentally reflect the true natureof science.
Teachers’ pedagogy and refinement are an organic process thatrequires teachers’ continued learning throughout their career.