• Dissertation Chair: Dr. Edmundo Litton
    "If at First You Do Not Succeed": A Study of Teacher Resiliency in Sixteen Public Urban Elementary Schools

    Alarming K-12 nationwide teacher attrition statistics have led reform efforts to focus on teacher retention (Olsen & Anderson, 2007), especially in urban schools where teacher burnout and attrition are high (Darling-Hammond, 1998). It was not until recently, however, that teacher resiliency, a strengths based framework (Henderson & Milstein, 2003), was viewed as an alternate lens of reform in achieving higher teacher retention. This study utilized a Likert survey to quantify if 284 elementary teachers in sixteen, public urban elementary schools in two urban school districts in southern California agree or disagree with the six most significant school factors linked to teacher resiliency. The six school factors known as collegiality/ collaboration, professional development, leadership, shared power, commitment to students, and teacher efficacy were identified by synthesizing the current literature on teacher resiliency and retention. The two most significant predictors of teacher resiliency from the literature, as found by multiple regression analyses, were commitment and values and shared power. This study also investigated whether resilient elementary teachers in urban schools self-reported any additional school factors linked to teacher resiliency, not originally identified in the literature. The significant additional school factors found in this study linked to resiliency were urban school dynamics, intrinsic motivation, and community.

  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Leslie Ponciano
    Examining Resilience Factors in Early Childhood Education Teachers within Teach For America

    The long-term leadership of the field of early childhood education (ECE) requires the cultivation of passionate, dedicated teachers. However, retention in the ECE workforce is considerably lower than that of the K-12 teaching population. This mixed-methods study investigated 323 early career ECE teachers working within an alternative certification program called Teach For America (TFA) to learn more about internal teacher factors and external circumstance factors that contributed to their resilience.

    Results from quantitative methods and a focus group protocol noted internal resilience factors among participants, including: a sense of responsibility; competition; perseverance and moral purpose; locus of control; self-preservation or self-reliance; and service to others. External resilience factors were found to include: supervisor support; TFA organizational support; coworker factors; ECE knowledge and affinity; relationships with others; and pivotal moments of decision. The demographic characteristics of teachers with resilience included growing up in a low-income family and satisfaction with the TFA experience. Analyses of these findings suggest best practices and policy recommendations that support resilience in the ECE teacher workforce.

  • Dissertation Chair: Dr. Victoria Graf
    Closing the Gap: The Effects of Alternative Certification Programs on Intern Self-Efficacy

    The shortage of teachers necessitates systems of certification that quickly provide teachers for the field, especially in hard to staff schools. Alternative certification programs have attempted to address the need by enlisting non-certified college graduates and offering these individuals shortcuts to certification, special assistance, or opportunities to study that prepare them for eligibility to obtain their teaching credential. (Darling-Hammond, 2000). These types of programs bring consequences with the benefits. This mixed methods study examined the effect of alternative certification programs on teacher self-efficacy. The Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale (Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk Hoy, 2001) was administered to interns prior to entering the field and after four months in the field. The results demonstrated a significant drop in teacher self-efficacy from pre- to post-test. In addition, semi-structured interviews identified factors that contributed to the drop in teacher self-efficacy. Implications for teacher education programs are discussed.