Teachers' Perceptions of Rural STEM Teaching: Implications for Rural Teacher Retention

Kasey P. S. Goodpaster, Omolola A. Adedokun, Gabriela C. Weaver

Abstract


Rural school districts often struggle with attracting and retaining high-quality teachers, especially in science subject areas. However, little is known about STEM in-service teachers’ lived experiences of rural teaching as they relate to retention. In this phenomenographical study, six rural in-service science teachers were interviewed regarding their perceptions of the benefits and challenges of teaching in rural schools in general, and teaching science subjects in particular. Community interactions, professional development, and rural school structures emerged as three key factors related to rural teacher retention. Participants viewed each of these factors as having both positive and negative aspects. Findings from this study confirm existing literature regarding rural teaching, in general, but provide additional insight into the complexities of rural science teaching, in particular. Implications for rural teacher preparation, recruitment, and retention are discussed.

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