SJU Awarded NSF Grant to Research STEM Teacher Retention

Thursday, August 7, 2014

PHILADELPHIA (August 7, 2014) — Saint Joseph’s University has received a $299,552 National Science Foundation (NSF) competitive grant from the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program to conduct research that seeks to influence teacher retention rates in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The grant will support SJU’s Phase II Noyce Scholarship Monitoring and Evaluation project that will explore the factors influencing secondary STEM teacher commitment to the profession.

“High teacher turnover is a fact in many high-need, urban schools, and understanding how teachers make the decision to stay or leave may help develop solutions to this problem,” says Sandra Fillebrown, Ph.D., principal investigator, professor of mathematics and director of graduate math education. “This research will provide a better understanding of the process of identity development and its relationship to STEM teacher retention, and the resulting information can be used to inform undergraduate teacher preparation programs and companion efforts to support early-career STEM teachers.”

The three-year project, announced by Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA-02), who is the lead appropriator for NSF and the country’s science agencies, has funding to work with 12 teachers, who will be recruited from recent graduates of Noyce Programs in the Philadelphia area, many of whom teach in Philadelphia public, charter and private schools.

“Research activities will include regular classroom visits and extensive interviews with the participating teachers, who will also keep journals,” says Stacy Olitsky, Ph.D., co-principal investigator and assistant professor of education. “Common themes will be identified that are associated with whether teachers remain or leave STEM instruction.”

The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers. The Noyce Scholarship Track provides funds to institutions of higher education to support scholarships, stipends and academic programs for undergraduate STEM majors and post-baccalaureate students holding STEM degrees who earn a teaching credential and commit to teaching in high-need K-12 school districts. 

Media Contact

Patricia Allen, Director of Communications/CAS, 610-660-3240,


As Philadelphia's Jesuit, Catholic University, founded by the Society of Jesus in 1851, Saint Joseph's University provides a rigorous, student-centered education rooted in the liberal arts. SJU ranks as a top university in the Northeast, with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in the College of Arts and Sciences and AACSB accreditation of the  Erivan K. Haub School of Business. The University is also deeply committed to the Jesuit tradition of scholarship and service, earning a place on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and the community engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. With courses offered on campus and online, SJU prepares its more than 8,000 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students to lead lives of personal excellence, professional success and engaged citizenship.


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