A Study of the Impact of Pre-Service Teacher Research Experience on Effectiveness, Persistence, and Retention

  • NSF Noyce Award #1340110, 1660839
  • First Name John
  • Last Name Keller
  • Emailjmkeller@calpoly.edu
    • DisciplineOther:: Science, Teacher Research
    • Co-PI(s)

      Eleanor Fulbeck, American Institutes for Research, efulbeck@air.org
      Sanlyn Buxner, University of Arizona, buxner@email.arizona.edu
      Deidre Sessoms, CSU Sacramento, dsessoms@skymail.csus.edu
      Dermot Donnelly, CSU Fresno, ddonnelly@csufresno.edu
      Larry Horvath, San Francisco State University, lhorvath@sfsu.edu

    • Presenters

      John Keller, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, jmkeller@calpoly.edu


Authentic research opportunities for prospective K-12 science and mathematics instructors within their teacher preparation is a recent STEM education initiative. This study will investigate how this approach impacts teacher effectiveness, persistence, and retention. The findings of this study will lead to improved STEM education and educator development by demonstrating the impacts of research experiences for pre-service teachers. Findings will also inform research partnerships involving academia, industry, and federal agencies. Finally, the ultimate measure of any teacher research experience is the impact on the students of the teacher-researcher. This study will establish the extent to which teacher-researchers effectively engage their students in science, engineering, and mathematical practices and prepare their students for STEM careers.


The project will compare a cohort of teachers who participated in STEM research as part of their teacher training (teacher-researchers) with a comparison group of teachers who have been similarly prepared but have limited research backgrounds. About half of the teacher-researchers involved in this study are Noyce Scholars, who have committed to teaching in high-need settings.


The treatment group in this quasi-experimental, comparative study will involve 303 individuals (including 175 Noyce Scholars) who participated for one to three years in a pre-service teacher-researcher program in partnerships with national research laboratories from 2010-2014. This group will be compared with Noyce Scholars and other teacher candidates who applied to but did not participate in research. To measure impacts on persistence and retention, the study will investigate career trajectories of the treatment and comparison groups. The project will conduct additional data collection in four high-need local educational agencies with high numbers of treatment group participants to identify matched comparison teachers within their schools. Additional data collected from these selected districts will include teacher and principal/supervisor interviews along with K-12 student surveys and data from student achievement assessments aligned with state standards.


Controlling for academic and demographic variables, teacher preparation, and local school and district characteristics, the study will inform how teacher effectiveness, retention, and persistence are impacted by enrichment of the Noyce Scholar experience through summer research.

Broader Impacts

This study has strong potential to broadly and significantly contribute to both policy and practice associated with STEM teacher preparation, specifically with regards to providing STEM research opportunities for future STEM teachers.



Posted on July 6, 2017