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Resources Accessed to Cultivate and Enhance Resilience (RACER)

Resources Accessed to Cultivate and Encourage Resilience (RACER) is a Track 4: Noyce Research proposal focused on understanding the persistence and retention of newly hired secondary science Noyce teachers who were prepared at Kent State University (KSU), Eastern Washington University (EWU), and the University of Georgia (UGA). . Julie Luft is the principal investigator for the University of Georgia.

  • Sponsor
    National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Scholarship program
  • Principal investigators
    Shannon Navy
    Kent State University
  • Co-principal investigators
    Julie A. Luft
    Athletic Association Professor of Science Education & Distinguished Research Professor
    Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Education

Robert Isardi
Eastern Washington University

  • Active since
    October 2021

Visit the Project Website


RACER is directly aligned with the Noyce Research interests in teacher persistence and retention in high-needs settings. This proposal recognizes that teacher turnover is problematic, and that is it often a result of burnout. By studying secondary science Noyce teachers who are resilient, new insights may emerge about how to curb or slow turnover.

Central to understanding resilience is how teachers access the resources around them. The Conservation of Resources theory will be essential in this study. Thirty newly hired Noyce secondary science teachers from different regions across the United States (U.S.) will be the sample pool. Over the course of two years, surveys, interviews, observations, and reflections will be collected and analyzed to understand secondary science Noyce teacher persistence. Questions specifically guiding this study are:

  • Question 1: What resources do newly hired Noyce secondary science teachers’ access, and how does resource access change over time? Where do these resources originate? Why are the resources useful?

  • Question 2: How is resilience portrayed and developed in newly hired science teachers?

  • Question 3: What is the relationship between types of resources, resilience, and burnout in newly hired science teachers?

The results of this study may reveal that a resources orientation is productive in encouraging the persistence of newly hired science teachers. This finding may reveal that newly hired teachers need help in accessing the resources they are provided in their first years of teaching. This may include:

  • Better networks to support science instruction
  • Familiarity with the content that is being taught
  • Knowing how to effectively seek assistance in using 3D instruction

With this finding, it may be revealed that strategic resource acquisition of resources is better than having access to ample resources. This finding has implications for the preparation and induction of secondary science teachers.

This study may also reveal that a resources orientation is not important in the first few years of teaching. With this finding, resources do not play a significant role in the persistence of newly hired secondary science teachers. For instance, it may be that the school context is just so challenging that no amount of resources can contribute to persistence, or that a newly hired Noyce teacher may have already decided on a limited amount of time in the profession.

Finally, the study may reveal the importance of developing resilience during the early, formative years of teaching. Within this finding, it may be that certain types of resources, such as social resources, are critical in ensuring teachers cultivate their resilience. It also may be that teachers draw upon different types of resources as they build resilience and over time. Of course, there are other potential findings; these are three probable findings.

Intellectual merit

The intellectual merit of this proposal resides in its unique orientation towards understating the persistence of newly hired teachers. To begin with, few studies explore well-prepared newly hired teachers. These studies are important because they provide information about the adequacy of the preparation program and the support provided to the newly hired teacher.

In addition, the study of resilience in teachers is timely. The pandemic and the potential recession will create an additionally challenging environment for teachers. Understanding resilience at this time is important. Finally, the way resilience is conceptualized is novel. In this study, resilience is viewed through the use of resources among a group of geographically diverse newly hired Noyce teachers who may or may not persist.

By studying how newly hired Noyce teachers access resources (or not) and their resilience, it will be possible to understand how resources can contribute to resilience. The theory of the Conservation of Resources and a multidimensional view of resilience will provide a more nuanced picture of the personal and contextual factors that influence the persistence of newly hired teachers. Finally, in this conceptualization of resources, resiliency, and persistence, additional research will be called for in the educational community.

Broader impacts

The broader impacts of this proposal reside in better ways to support newly hired science teachers. The findings from this study will have implications for the design and enactment of preservice and induction programs. From this study, there may be conclusions that suggest how preservice programs and induction programs support the learning of teachers. This is important when new teachers encounter difficult situations (e.g., high turnover schools, trauma-inducing events).

When newly hired teachers are resilient through their acquisition of resources, they can continue to improve their instruction and knowledge, stay in teaching longer, and ultimately ensure student learning. For high-needs school districts, persistent teachers contribute to the teaching community. They continue to work with their colleagues instead of leaving the profession. This results in an enhanced STEM teaching workforce and improved accountability ratings.

For teachers, knowing what resources to access improves their well-being and their science instruction. When teachers can strategically use resources, they will continue to develop professionally. For students, the impact is significant. Students who historically experience teacher turnover and burnout are left behind intellectually in science. They rarely experience the wonder and enjoyment of science. When teachers are resilient, students who have historically been outside of the STEM pipeline have a chance to enter this pipeline. Thus, a more diverse STEM workforce is created in the U.S.

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