Teacher Retention Rates and Resilience: Professors Receive NSF Grant

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and while this may not be an accurate statement in a literal sense, it is oftentimes the explanation used to justify adversity, rejection and misfortune. 

Resilience is the ability to adapt to new situations and ever changing environments and resilient individuals more easily navigate professional and personal uncertainties.

Dr Shannon Navy

Shannon Navy, Ph.D., assistant professor of Science Education, and Lisa Borgerding, Ph.D.,  professor of Science Education, both in the School of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies, understand the importance of an adaptable mindset and work to discern the factors that progressively impact one’s ability to maintain their role as an educator. 

“Young professionals are almost always seeking support and guidance from colleagues with more experience,” Navy said. “What we want to know is how these newly hired teachers access the resources around them to cultivate and enhance their resilience.” 

Receiving a grant for $1,000,000  from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Navy and Borgerding’s funded research project is in collaboration with Julie Luft, Ph.D., at the University of Georgia and Robert Idsardi, Ph.D., at Eastern Washington University. The project focuses its efforts on identifying and describing the development of resilience among new teachers, which can inform education and professional learning programs.  

Lisa Borgerding

With a sample pool of thirty newly hired STEM teachers in high-need schools, Navy and colleagues intend to analyze a variety of surveys, interviews, observations and reflections to identify which resources are being utilized by these teachers and how they improve teacher resilience and retention. 

By identifying the resources and understanding the development of resilience within these early-on professionals, Navy and her team may be able to identify causes of teacher burnout and ways to avoid it going forward. 

Teacher retention has been a persisting issue for as long as school has been in session. While consistently seen as a popular consideration for higher education, research from The Association of California School Administrators has shown that nine out of 10 teachers are replacing colleagues who left voluntarily and more than two thirds of teachers quit before retirement. 

“The increasing turnover rates within educational institutions is problematic and a cause for concern,” Navy said. “Not only for the professionals who transition out of teaching, but for the students as well. They are caught in the middle and their education can be fractured due to the cascading effects of teacher turnover. ” 

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POSTED: Sunday, November 07, 2021 12:22 PM
Updated: Tuesday, February 07, 2023 05:49 AM
Theresa Lovrak