Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education

Degree Program

Curriculum and Instruction, PhD

Committee Chair

Tretter, Thomas R.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Stringfield, Samuel

Committee Member

Bay-Williams, Jennifer

Committee Member

Moody, Vivian

Author's Keywords

Field experience; Mentoring; Teacher concerns


Science teachers--In-service training; Science teachers--Psychology


Mathematics and science teachers leave education more than teachers in other fields (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2008). Job-related stress and burn-out can attribute to early attrition in veteran teachers and pre-service teachers (PSTs) (e.g. Fives, Hamman, & Olivarez, 2007; Gold, 1985). A strategy for addressing attrition is to reduce self-preservation concerns in pre-service education programs. This study used a mixed-methods quasi-experimental research design to examine two STEM teacher education programs, with the long-term goal of improving STEM teacher retention. The first, “SkyTeach”, incorporated instructional experiences and an assortment of mentoring models prior to student teaching. The second program utilized primarily observational field experiences and academic advisors preceding student teaching. This study investigated how engaged field experiences and multi-faceted mentoring impacted pre-service teacher concerns. Concerns measured included self-preservation, task-related, and impact concerns. Quantitative results showed no significant differences between Traditional and SKyTeach pre-service teachers (PST) on any concern before student teaching. Both programs possessed moderate levels of individual concerns. A qualitative investigation into self-preservation concerns revealed that Traditional PSTs recorded mainly content concerns; whereas SKyTeach PSTs primarily noted respect concerns before student teaching. Qualitative findings denoted a shift in Traditional PSTs’ concerns from content to respect concerns, whereas SKyTeach self-preservation concerns essentially disappeared by end of student teaching. Impacts of mentoring and field experiences on self-preservation concerns were investigated. Before student teaching, Traditional PSTs experienced primarily observational experiences; whereas, SKyTeach PSTs had instructional practice experiences. Those PSTs with more instructional practices concluded that they were not intimidated by the upcoming teaching experience. Traditional PSTs identified academic advisors as mentors and SKyTeach identified a variety of mentors prior to student teaching. During student teaching, both programs stated their primary mentors were their cooperating teachers and university supervisors. SKyTeach PSTs also relied on SKyTeach Master Teachers as a secondary source of counsel. This evidence indicated that the presence of a trained mentor reduced self-preservation concerns. This study found having a mentor who provided a triad of support coupled with the focused observational and instructional field experiences helped reduce self-preservation concerns among PSTs before student teaching.