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Commitment to Teach in Under-Resourced Schools: Prospective Science and Mathematics Teachers’ Dispositions

Abstract

In this exploratory study, we sought to gain an understanding of what motivates prospective teachers who are Noyce Scholars at a research-intensive southeastern US university to commit to teaching secondary level science or mathematics in school districts that have a high proportion of students who come from low-socioeconomic households. An interpretive methodology revealed three themes associated with Noyce Scholars’ motivations to teach (1) awareness of educational challenges, (2) sense of belonging to or comfort with diverse communities, and (3) belief that one can serve as a role model and resource. The paper describes and compares the significance of each theme among six prospective teachers who identify with the schooling experiences of students who came from low-income or poor households and nine prospective teachers who identify with the schooling experiences in a middle-income school or district. The implication of this study supports the importance of recruiting prospective science and mathematics teachers who have knowledge of and a disposition to work with learners from low-income or poor households, even if those prospective teachers are not themselves the members of under-served populations.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the National Science Foundation DUE-0532059 and the National Aeronautical Space Administration, Harriet G. Jenkins Pre-doctoral Fellowship.

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Correspondence to Athena R. Ganchorre.

Appendices

Appendix 1

See Table 2.

Table 2 Example of matrix of descriptive codes grouped into two categories (Miles and Huberman 1984)

Appendix 2

Science Questionnaire Part II

Please read the following scenario and respond to each of the statements below.

A student of yours comes to class every day. His participation in class discussion indicates he is engaged with the material. He brings his book with him to class everyday but rarely turns in a completed assignment. You would like to discuss the student’s performance with his parents but they do not attend the parent-teacher conferences.

  1. 1.

    This student lacks motivation to complete class assignments. Agree or disagree. Why?

  2. 2.

    This student thinks homework is not important. Agree or disagree. Why?

  3. 3.

    This student does not know how to follow directions. Agree or disagree. Why?

  4. 4.

    What do you think may be factors influencing the student’s performance?

Appendix 3

Math Questionnaire Part II

Please read the following scenario and respond to each of the statements below.

A student in your algebra math class is having difficulty with her assignments particularly with the word problems. She arrived late in the school year and is living temporarily with relatives. You ask her to stay after school for tutoring on her assignments, but she keeps breaking her appointments.

  1. 1.

    This student needs tutoring on math concepts. Agree or disagree. Why?

  2. 2.

    This student is unmotivated to learn new math concepts. Agree or disagree. Why?

  3. 3.

    This student does not know how to follow directions. Agree or disagree. Why?

  4. 4.

    What do you think may be factors influencing this students’ performance?

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Ganchorre, A.R., Tomanek, D. Commitment to Teach in Under-Resourced Schools: Prospective Science and Mathematics Teachers’ Dispositions. J Sci Teacher Educ 23, 87–110 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10972-011-9263-y

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Keywords

  • Motivations
  • Dispositions
  • Pre-service teachers
  • Low-socioeconomic status