In in science achievement. According to the National

In
1996 the National Science Education Standards stated that “All Americans,
familiar with basic scientific ideas and processes, can have fuller and more
productive lives” (National Research Council NRC, 1996, p. ix).  Having a strong foundation in science can
enable individuals to comprehend current events, make informed decisions about
using technology, or one’s own healthcare. It is no doubt that science
education is therefore important and central to the lives of all Americans
(National Academy of Sciences, 2012). Currently, the United States has adopted
the Next Generation Science Standards to advance science education to
unprecedented levels.  The intent is to not
only deliver content but to also stimulate and help build interest in Science,
Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology (STEM) for today’s students. As a
result, science educators strive towards excellence to meet these goals.

Currently,
the U.S. has experienced some growth in science achievement. According to the
National Assessment of Educational Progress NAEP 2016, student assessment at
fourth, eight, and twelfth grade from 2009 through 2015 experienced a 2%
increase. Trends in the International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) indicated
that fourth and eighth graders have experienced incremental improvement from
1995-2015 with an increase of 4-17 points. Although the data reported an
increase in average points, the difference between the average scores are not
statistically significant. Another international assessment, the Program for
International Student Assessment PISA ranked above the international average
by three points. The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development
OECD 2015 results reported a two point increase in the past three years and
ranks 25 out of the 70 participating countries. Although the U.S. has
experience this growth and ranks in the top 36% it is not significantly
different from the OECD average. Recent international comparative assessments
have shown positive growth in average scores for U.S. students’ performance due
to science education reform efforts. Growth however, has been slow and
incremental revealing that efforts to improve science education should
continue.

Teacher
quality has been identified as a significant factor linked to student
performance. A teacher’s impact on student achievement is arguably greater than
other factors such as school organization, leadership, and financial condition
(Kastberg et al., 2006).
TIMSS surveys of science teachers show that a teacher’s ability to deliver
content, their instructional style, material, and activities chosen to deliver
instruction are all linked to the quality of their teaching practices (Roth et al., 2006).  Allen (2010) suggests that staffing schools with well-qualified
teachers is especially critical in science because the highly technical
subjects can only be taught by individuals with a sold grasp of the discipline,
solid training in one science field does not necessarily qualify an individual
to teach successfully in another science field, and a political commitment to
increase science skills for our nation’s students can only be met by
recruiting, preparing, and hiring teachers with solid qualifications.

According
to National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2015) the Science
Teaching Workforce at a Glance reveals that elementary teachers with a
bachelor’s degree in science, engineering, or science education make up 5%,
middle school teachers make up 41%, and high school teachers make up 82%. The
National Science Teachers Associate (NSTA) recommends that elementary teachers should be prepared to
teach life, earth, and physical sciences. Banilower et al., (2013) found that only 36% of
elementary teachers reported completing college preparation course in all three
areas, 38% reported completed two of the three content areas, 20% completed one
of the three content areas, and 6% reported not having taken any college
courses in science. Although most elementary school teachers have completed at
least one course in a science topic in their preparation of science teaching
they are considerably less prepared to engage their students in scientific
investigations.  On the other end of the
spectrum, high school science teachers who majored in science are also unlikely
to have had the opportunity to engage in authentic scientific investigations
which are closely integrated with the core science ideas and crosscutting concepts
indicated by the Next Generation Science Standards NGSS, (National Research Council, 2006,
2012).  

Our
nation is in need of more highly qualified science teachers. The U.S. in
comparison to other high-performing nations has developed fewer and lower-stakes
filters of science teacher recruitment and retention (Wang, Coleman, Coley, & Phelps, 2003). Another
national survey (Birman
et. Al., 2007) found that 65% of school district experienced difficulty
attracted highly qualified teachers in science. As a result, attention needs to
be placed on teacher quality and explore ways to promote it. National reports
suggest that science teachers should demonstrate greater pedagogical
proficiency in the classroom in order to improve national competitiveness in
global economies (National
Research Council NRC, 2001; National Commission on Mathematics & Science
Teaching, 2000; Committee on Science & Mathematics Teacher Preparation
CSMTP, 2010). Ingersoll
et al., (2007) suggested that some factors that may hinder teacher
quality and the success of science education programs may include teacher
shortage, teacher preparation programs, professional development,
social-cultural support, and educational policy. 

Our
nation has suffered a shortage of qualified science teachers for over two
decades according to The U.S. Department of Education Nationwide Listing from 1990-91
through 2017-18 Teacher Shortage Area (2017) report. Since the No Child Left Behind Act
of 2001, requirements of highly certified teachers have been in place. As
defined by the Code of Federal Regulations, a highly certified teachers is
defined as an individual who holds a bachelor’s degree, full state
certification or licensure, and demonstrates proficiency in the subject matter
they teach (34 CFR 200.55). Science education has been
a problematic discipline in the supply and demand of teachers. The theory of
supply and demand of the “quantity of teachers indicates that teachers demanded
is greater than the quantity of teachers supplied” (Ingersoll and Perda, 2009). Teacher
shortages result in education reform efforts that target the production of new
and preservice teachers and often neglects the impact of preretirement turnover
teachers and Ingersoll’s and Perda’s (2009) study indicate that staffing problems
are largely the result of preretirement turnover. The amount of science teacher
candidates was significantly lower than the amount of teachers leaving the
profession. Ingersoll’s and Perda’s study found that only 46% of teacher
candidates who were hired (Ingersoll & Perda, 2009).

Other
factors that may cause a shortage in science teacher quality include teacher
preparation programs, teacher certification and alternative certification
programs, employment, and professional development may be the cause (Arabaugh, Abell, Lannin,
Volkmann, & Boone, 2007; Escalada & Meoller, 2006; Freidrichsen,
Lannin, Abel, Arabaugh, & Volkmann, 2008; Ingersoll et al., 2007; Shaw,
2008; Wang et al., 2003). Teacher preparation programs support efforts
to address teacher shortages. In science education specifically, positions are
filled with alternatively certified teachers more than other subject areas (Zumwalt & Craig, 2005).
Miller, (2013) reported that secondary science teachers are more likely to
enter teaching through an alternative means rather than the traditional
university-based teacher preparation. Different from a traditional teacher
preparation programs, alternative certification programs prepare individuals in
pedagogy and practice who already have a degree in a science field. Alternative
certified teachers are often hired under a provisional, transitional, and
emergency licenses which allow individuals to teach before they are completely
certified teachers. According to Arbaugh et al., (2007), 18-20% of all science teachers are
prepared through alternative routes. Shortages in science teachers results in
high numbers of positions filled with teachers who lack high qualifications for
teaching science.     

Science
Teacher shortages are not only due to an unbalanced supply and demand of
teachers in schools, but also due to high turnover rates. The 2017 report by
the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER), found that science and
math teachers had equally the highest rate of teachers who left the profession
at over 10%. The NFER
analysis of School Workforce Census data reported over 15% of science teachers
left the profession in less than one year teaching. The percentage of teachers
leaving the profession dropped to about 5% only after six year teaching. Secondary
teachers were also the highest rated population of teachers to leave the
profession. In a recent article by Carver-Thomas and Darling-Hammond (2017),
the authors state that high turnover rates negatively impacts student
achievement in all classrooms, not just new teachers. High turnover rates also
impact significant financial costs related to recruitment, hiring, and training
ranging from $9,000-$20,000 per teacher depending on rural or urban school
districts. The authors suggests that in addition to so much money used to
support new teachers, it should also be used to “include mentoring and learning
opportunities for experienced teachers to increase effectiveness (Carver-Thomas
and Darling-Hammond, 2017).” Support for science teachers should not only be
limited to those entering the profession but those who have years already
invested in the classroom.

Supporting
science education requires providing rich learning opportunities for science
learning for teachers.  The National
Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education have conducted rigorous
research efforts and development to better understand how to best support
science teachers. According to the National Academy of Sciences (2015) report,
the most effective professional learning focuses on content in addition to
pedagogy. Effective learning also includes active learning, provides
consistency across learning experience with school, district, and state
policies, has sufficient duration to allow repeated practice and reflection on
classroom experiences, and brings together teachers with similar experiences or
needs (Daehler, 2016).”  With the
adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards, teachers are faced with more
rigorous expectations and curriculum thus causing greater complexity to the
science teaching profession. The National Academy of Science (2015) indicated
that many science teachers lack sufficiently rich experiences in science
education because they often were not taught in the ways of the new standards. Daehler
(2016) found that science teachers benefit most from actively engaging in
scientific practices such as asking questions, gathering and analyzing data,
and engaging in scientific argumentation. Many school districts lack the
resources to effectively ensure that teachers are thoroughly grounded in basic
science concepts such as life science, earth science and physical science
(Daehler, 2016). As a result, teachers often work to develop and continue to
develop their own professional identities as science teachers through their
participation in communities of practice.

A
community of practice is defined as a group of people who “share a concern or a
passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact
regularly” (Wenger-Trayner,
2015). Groups that work together for a shared knowledge construction participate
in a community of practice (Lave
& Wenger, 1999).  According to
this definition, teachers are inherently part of a community of practice at
their campus because they interact with other teachers regularly about student,
parents, and policy. Teachers create and develop a repertoire of resources such
as their experience, stories, tools, and way of addressing problems daily. Being
a teacher of science in a secondary school setting is its own community of practice.
Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner’s (2015) describe three crucial
characteristics of a community of practice; Domain, community, and practice.  In Domain, the community of practice consists
of a shared interest. Science teachers at the secondary level are the essential
experts in their given area such as physics, biology, geology, or astronomy.  These teachers share an interest in the subject
matter in addition to sharing an interest in ensuring student mastery of the
subject. In Community, the individuals within the community of practice pursue their
interest by engaging in joint activities and discussions that help as they share
information. Science teachers participate in professional learning communities (PLC’s)
and professional development (PD) in which opportunities are provided that
enable teachers to discuss science curriculum, science pedagogy, and work to
develop lesson plans. In Practice, the individuals within the community of
practice are considered practitioners. Through time and sustained interaction,
individuals develop a shared practice that may become autonomous. Science
teachers who meet regularly for PLC’s may discuss lab procedures connected to the
curriculum being taught. In turn, they may not realize that these discussions
are one of their main sources of knowledge about lab activities and set up. Wenger-Trayner
note that only the combination of these three elements constitute what is meant
by a community of practice.

Communities
of practice affect educational practices through mutual construction of
knowledge. Learning does not take place in a vacuum but is a social and experiential
endeavor.  Andragogy? Wenger-Trayner (2015) indicate that teacher training is
the first application of communities of practice and is a growing area of interest
for peer-to-peer professional development activities. Deneroff’s (2013) stresses that professional
development with science teachers must enable the growth of new knowledge and be
self-sustaining. Professional development should provide opportunities for science
teachers to construct knowledge for themselves through the interactions with
other science teachers (Cranton,
1996; Lave & Wenger, 1999; Rogoff, 1994; Vygotsky, 1978).  Deneroff (2012) argues that professional development is situated,
embodied, and storied through a transformation of identity. She states that in
order to understand the essence of learning we must explore the relationship
between professional development and teaching practice (Deneroff, 2013).

Teachers
are constantly transformed by their learning as they actively participate in
professional development. When a teacher enters the teaching profession, growth
often becomes limited as opportunities for explicit professional development for
science diminish. Content-specific professional development offered by large
school districts is usually based on federal funding in conjunction with the
needs of each district’s assessment data. Despite this, science teachers
continue seek other opportunities for professional development to help them
reshape, refine, and even redefine their pedagogical craft. Science teachers
learn from their day-to-day interaction with other science teachers, their own experiences,
cultural values, background, population of students they serve, and their
participation, or lack of participation, within their own teaching community. Science
teachers may belong to alternative communities of practice that support their
needs. These alternative communities may include outside organizations or
groups. They may also be situated within virtual groups or associations consisting
with other science teachers from across the nation and globally. Science
teachers who serve as mentors to new teachers opens the door to a smaller
community of practice. Mentor teachers learn to maneuver and emerge within
their new space. The new community may consist of mentor teachers who became
mentors by default, by choice, or by appointment. The science teacher community
of mentors may affect their professional learning through their perceived professional
identity.

Science
teacher identity is a growing area of research that is important in our
continued quest to deepen our understanding of science teacher education. In the
past decade alone, the construct of teacher identity has been of growing
interest to researchers. Leading science education journals have published increased
articles about teacher identity along with discussions about interventions that
may support teacher identity development. Teacher identity has been studied
through multidimensional sociocultural lenses that aim to create a deeper
understanding of teacher development (Rodgers
& Scott, 2008). In Avraamidou’s (2014) article on ‘Studying science teacher identity’,
she stresses the importance of understanding identity within the field of education
because it “offers a comprehensive construct of studying teacher learning and
development, which goes beyond knowledge and skills” (p. 146).  Avraamidou’s (p. 164) comprehensive synthesis
of the literature offers the following insights in the areas of science teacher
identity and identity development:

·        
Identity offers a powerful and
multidimensional lens to studying teacher learning and development.

·        
The construct of teacher identity
highlights the role of the context in teacher learning and development.

·        
The construct of teacher identity has the
potential to shed light on teachers’ personal histories in relation to science.

·        
The construct of teacher identity allows
us to examine the impact of social markers on teacher learning and development
(age, gender, emotions and ethnicity status).

The
findings from these studies support the idea that teacher identity is
multidimensional and is a construct that can be used to study teacher learning
and development. A close relationship exists between identity and practice and
studying identity studying identity helps us to understand how learning “transforms
who we are and what we can do” (Wenger, 1998, p. 215). Bullough, (1997) indicates that teacher identity is the “basis
of meaning making and decision making” (p. 21). Teacher identity has been shown to predict
a teacher’s performance, retention, burnout, and turnover (Brown, 2006: Day, Elliot, &
Kington, 2005: Snyder & Spreitz, 1984).

Science teachers’ sense
of self and professional identity have been a cause for concern in the
literature. A deeper understanding of the relationship between science teacher identity
and science teacher professional development is critical for helping science
teachers sustain and grow their teaching profession (Eick & Reed, 2002; Eick,
2009; Friedrchsen et al., 2008; Henderson & Bradey, 2006; Luehmann, 2007
Proweller & Mitchener, 2004; Varelas, House & Wenzel, 2004; Volkmann
& Anderson, 1998). These studies have found that teachers who had a
strong sense of identity may be more motivated, committed to their profession,
satisfied, and more effective in science teaching.

By
examining the experiences of mentor teachers, this study will investigate the
professional growth and revitalization that teachers experience through serving
as a mentor to new teachers. This study will also analyze what components of
the role of mentoring cause a transformation in the professional teaching
practices of adult learners which may serve as a form of professional
development.

Mentoring
beginning teachers within the school-based setting is recognized as an
essential means for supporting their professional development towards becoming
accomplished and distinguished teachers (Hobson, Ashby, Malderez, & Tomplinson, 2009;
Koballa & Bradbury, 2009; Want & Odell, 2002). Veteran teachers
who mentor new teacher experience transformations in their own pedagogy under
specific conditions. Zuckerman
(2001) asserts that a transformation will occur when a collaborative
relationship exists between the mentor and the beginning teacher despite lack
of support in formal mentoring programs. In her study with veteran teachers’
mentoring experiences, she found that “the very process of collaborating “not
only transforms the mentees but the mentors own transformation as well”
(p. 26).”RR1 
Understanding the
learning that involved while mentoring
RR2 beginning science teachers
RR3 is
important to the success of continued professional development of mentor
teachers. Through the mentoring process, a great potential exists for the
professional development of the veteran teacher (Zuckerman, 2001; Healy & Welchert, 1990). “Mentoring is often thought to be a
benefit only to the new educator, overlooking benefits to veteran teachers” (Carr, Herman, & Harris,
2005). Carr et al. argues that mentors are merely the givers of
knowledge who receive nothing in return. This research will seek evidence to
counter this narrow one-sided argument. Little research exists on how mentoring
itself contributes to the professional development of the experienced teacher (Hanson & Moir, 2006).
In a study by Huling and Resta (2001) it was found that the benefits of
mentoring included such characteristics as improved professional competence,
increased reflection on the mentor’s own practice, a reports sense of renewal,
and building the mentor’s capacity for leadership.

Learning
is complex and multidimensional and exists in almost every facet of life, even
in areas not generally seen as learning opportunities. Just as student learning
is shaped by their environment and experiences, experienced science teachers
continue to learn within their community of practice. This research will
attempt to identify learning that occurs for teachers who mentor new teachers. Research
that focuses on the learning and professional growth of specifically for mentor
science teachers is lacking. This dissertation will investigate the learning
that takes place during the mentoring process while an expert teacher mentors a
new teacher within the context of secondary science education.

Research Questions

The
focus of the research questions for this study is mentor science teachers and
the factors that affect teachers’ professional identity and pedagogy. Guiding
Question- How does serving as a mentor teacher shape science teachers’ identity
through their professional practices?

1.     
Does a science teachers’ experience as a
mentor support their professional and pedagogical learning?  If so, how?

2.     
How is a science teachers’ professional
identity within a community of practice RR4 MNM5 impacted by serving as a mentor to new teachersRR6 MNM7 ? Other possible way to phrase this:
What role does mentoring novice teachers play in the development of a science
teacher identity? 

Does
serving as a mentor promote a community
of inquiry RR8 MNM9 for science teachers? How
do these factors influence the professional identity of mentor teachers as they
mentor a student teacher?

Problem Statement

Teaching
science at the secondary level requires a deep understanding of scientific
knowledge and concepts through ongoing mediated practice. A good science
teacher creates opportunities for students to learn by taking the essences of
science and reshaping concepts to meet the specific needs of the students while
providing hands-on experiences in deliberate ways. Science teachers who take on
the role of mentoring a student teacher must help to instill the ability for
future teachers to develop lessons that fundamentally reflect the true nature
of science. Teachers’ pedagogy and refinement are an organic process that
requires teachers’ continued learning throughout their career.