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Researchers find mentor programs often harm, more than help first-year science teachers

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Posted April 25, 2014
Researchers find mentor programs often harm, more than help first-year science teachers
Lori Ihrig (left) explains the constraints new science teachers face in the first two years of their career. The results of her study support the stories Michael Clough (center) and Joanne Olson (right) hear from former students. Photo by Bob Elbert

New teachers deal with a multitude of challenges during their first year in the classroom, which is why many school districts develop mentoring programs to ease that transition. But a new Iowa State University study found that instead of helping beginning science teachers, these programs tend to reinforce the status quo, making it difficult for teachers to promote a deep understanding of science.

Lori Ihrig, a graduate student in ISU’s School of Education, followed 10 new secondary during the first two years of their careers to study their teaching practices and the socialization process. Joanne Olson and Michael Clough, both associate professors of science education, worked with Ihrig on the study. The team found that new teachers were often pressured to adapt their practices to the status quo, even if that contradicted established research-based classroom teaching practices.

The structure of the mentoring programs these teachers encountered made it hard for them to trust their mentors and easy for mentors to exert power.

Read more at: Phys.org

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