Theses Doctoral

Beginning Science Teachers’ Agency: An Exploratory Study of Choice and the Role of Technology for Continuing Education

Javid, Ava

Despite a steady stream of new science teachers joining the K-12 education workforce, the rate at which beginning science teachers (BSTs) stay in the classroom long-term is shockingly low. With such a low rate of retention, it is important to examine these teachers’ experiences in the formative first years of teaching after completing a formal pre-service program in order to observe their continual learning in-service. Though much attention has been given to formal mentoring and induction programs for BSTs, little is known about the ways these teachers choose to continue learning to teach science. Especially little is known about how technology can facilitate their continued learning.

In this phenomenographic study, I followed a group of BSTs to describe their experiences and conceptions of their learning choices and agency during the induction period, which I define as the first through third year of teaching. By investigating induction, the period of rapid learning that occurs during the first years of teaching science full-time, I captured the experiences BSTs have that are unique to this time. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected from surveys, observations, journal reflections, and interviews. The data indicate that BSTs’ learning needs are tied to a desire for professional connection to other educators, juxtaposed with a perception that they must be self-reliant in their work. BSTs learn primarily from their specific student population, through trial and error, and the extent and manner of these learnings depend on time, logistics, and the school context in which they work. Finally, BSTs demonstrate that technology plays a primarily pedagogical role in their classrooms, but promising themes emerged about ways in which they learn from and use technology to deprivatize teaching in order to meet their desire for professional connection.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Thesis Advisors
Mensah, Felicia
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 17, 2020