Investigating STEM Teacher Preparation and Rural Teacher Persistence and Retention: (TPR)^2

Grants and Contracts Details


Investigating STEM Teacher Preparation and Rural Teacher Persistence and Retention (TPR)2 is a four-year collaborative research project investigating educator preparation for high-needs rural classrooms across the U.S. The primary objective of this study is to identify the features of educator preparation programs (EPPs) that have an impact on STEM teachers’ decisions about teaching in rural schools regarding their: (a) intention to teach, (b) initial employment, (c) retention, and (d) persistence through a combination of qualitative (documents analysis, interviews, course and program data) and quantitative (program completer surveys, employment) data collection for over 200 program completers in each of three cohorts. Using mixed methods methodology (TPR)2 will investigate the relationships between programmatic features of rural-focused STEM teacher education and teacher persistence and retention outcomes. A secondary objective of this project is to develop and disseminate resources for rural focused STEM educator preparation that have been shown to support rural STEM teacher persistence and retention. Intellectual Merit: High quality STEM teachers play an important role in student learning (Nye, et al., 2004; Maynes & Hatt, 2015). However, many rural schools face difficulty in hiring and retaining teachers, particularly STEM teachers (Sutcher, et al., 2016). Teacher shortages are most pronounced in rural, high-poverty, high-minority, and low-achieving schools making this a serious equity issue (Behrstock-Sherratt, 2016; Eppley, 2016). There is evidence that components of educator preparation improve practice and support retention, including a focus on pedagogy, content area coursework, and preparation to work with diverse students (Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005; Ingersoll et al., 2014). However, this evidence is not specifically related to preparing teachers for the unique challenges of rural STEM teaching (e.g., geographic and professional isolation, the need to teach multiple subjects, limited broadband, etc.). Although extensive resources have been devoted to addressing the needs of urban schools there is limited research about effective rural teacher preparation, particularly for STEM classrooms (Azano, et al., 2019). Through a systematic, longitudinal, and multi-context approach, this collaborative project aims to understand how STEM educator preparation for rural placements manifests in diverse locations and how those programmatic features are related to STEM teacher persistence and retention. This study will be led by a core research team including Mississippi State, Texas A&M, and Stephen F. Austin State Universities, institutions with a history of successful Noyce Track 1 and 4 projects, extensive STEM teacher education research experience, and a commitment to preparing teachers for rural schools. Twelve collaborating partners have active Noyce Track 1 proposals and teacher preparation programs that serve rural schools and communities, including: Alabama A&M, Clarkson University, Eastern Carolina University, Fort Hayes State University, Morehead State University, North Dakota State University, Texas A&M-Commerce, Texas Tech, University of Alabama Birmingham, University of Kentucky, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and Winthrop University. Broader Impact: (TPR)2 will employ a rigorous approach that produces generalizable evidence to inform educator preparation across the US, work that is essential in order to advance equity for the one-fifth of students and one-third of schools in the US that are rural. Teacher attrition rates are highest in rural areas, particularly in the U.S. South and in schools that serve low-income and minority students (Anthony, Franz, & Brenner, 2017). Addressing persistence and retention in rural schools is an important step in providing equity for rural students. The broader impact of this collaborative research project will be a greater understanding of the programmatic features of educator preparation programs and Noyce programs that support rural STEM teacher persistence and retention. Based on findings, resources for teacher education practitioners will be developed. The ultimate aim of this project is to improve teaching and learning in rural STEM classrooms through the identification and promotion of programmatic features of educator preparation programs that support the development of a more stable and effective teacher workforce for rural STEM classrooms
Effective start/end date7/1/21 → 6/30/25


  • National Science Foundation: $69,919.00


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