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. 

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Founded in 1851 in the Jesuit tradition of academic excellence, Saint Joseph’s University is a top-ranked Catholic University that provides a rigorous, student-centered education. With a total enrollment of 8,500 undergraduate and graduate students, SJU offers a wide-array of academic programs designed so that each graduate enters the world with a competitive resume and global perspective. This is achieved through intense academic study led by thought-leading faculty scholars, a comprehensive campus experience and robust study abroad, service-learning, internship and co-op programs. Upon graduation, nearly 100 percent of students are employed, pursuing advanced degrees or volunteering in prestigious service programs. A member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, SJU offers 20 Division I intercollegiate men’s and women’s sports. SJU alumni – over 60,000 strong - provide a powerful network that spans the globe.

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