Date of Award

Spring 4-2016

Document Type

Dissertation - University of Massachusetts Global access only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Doug DeVore, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Tamerin Capellino, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Mark Richardson, Ed.D.


Purpose. The purpose of this study was to explore the factors that influenced STEM graduates to seek employment as secondary math and science teachers in 2 Southern California county school districts, to explore what factors influence STEM secondary math and science teachers to remain in their teaching positions, and to explore what STEM secondary math and science teachers perceive as important strategies to recruit more STEM teachers into secondary teaching.

Methodology. A qualitative research design with purposeful, convenience sampling was used based on the following delimiting variables: (a) 5-12 years of middle or high school teaching experience in the content areas related to STEM, and (b) completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a STEM-related major or minor emphasis.

Findings. Exposure to classroom settings and having student interactions were the impetus for most of the teachers to consider pursuing a teaching career, and 70% of participants decided to become teachers based on encouragement from other individuals with teaching experience. The majority of participants proposed that offering more financial incentives would attract more STEM teacher candidates.

Conclusions. STEM teachers perceive increased exposure to classroom settings and students as a key component for improved interest and awareness of a teaching career. Also, STEM teachers perceive individuals who are mentors, former teachers, or current teachers as having the capability of recognizing the teaching potential in their mentees or students. In addition, positive student-teacher interactions create a more productive and effective learning environment. Lastly, providing greater financial incentives would result in an increased number of STEM graduates being attracted to teaching.

Recommendations. Universities should provide internships, tutoring jobs, or classroom observations of a mentor teacher for current undergraduate and graduate STEM students. Universities must offer classes on the application of STEM in education, and local school districts should sponsor STEM in Education job fairs. A teacher-student mentorship program for students who show potential in STEM should be created. Pay raises should also be offered to teachers who hold or obtain degrees in STEM. The last recommendation is that policymakers and universities must consider offering lower cost teaching credential programs or providing a stipend to teaching credential students.