ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

Many new science teachers are assigned to teach subjects in which they have not been prepared, a practice referred to as out-of-field (OOF) teaching. Teaching OOF has been shown to negatively influence instruction and constrain teachers’ development. In this study we explored the extent to which new secondary science teachers were assigned OOF across their first five years. Analysis of this longitudinal data set indicated that these assignments were common. While new science teachers were assigned to teach a variety of subjects over their first five years of teaching, they were not assigned more or fewer OOF courses over time. Furthermore, results indicated that teachers in certain situations are more likely than others to be assigned to teach OOF. Even with federal legislation in the United States seeking to eliminate OOF teaching, a large portion of new secondary science teachers are assigned to teach science disciplines for which they are inadequately prepared. Based on the findings of this study, it is worth exploring policy avenues that eliminate OOF teaching. Policymakers, administrators, and teacher educators should seek to provide supports, such as science-specific induction programs designed for new teachers who are assigned OOF, and science teacher educators should prepare prospective teachers to teach multiple science disciplines.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Running head: OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS 1
This is a pre-publication draft of:
Nixon, R. S., Luft, J. A., & Ross, R. J. (in press). Prevalence and predictors of out-of-field
teaching in the first five years. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. doi:
10.1002/tea.21402
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
2
Prevalence and Predictors of Out-of-Field Teaching in the First Five Years
Ryan S. Nixon
Brigham Young University
Julie A. Luft and Richard J. Ross
University of Georgia
Author Note
Ryan S. Nixon, Department of Teacher Education, Brigham Young University; Julie A.
Luft, Department of Science and Mathematics Education, University of Georgia; Richard J.
Ross, Department of Statistics, University of Georgia.
The authors of this study would like to recognize Krista Adams, EunJin Bang, Holly
Crawford, Jonah Firestone, Anne Kern, Jennifer Neakrase, Ira Ortega, Gillian Roehrig, Charles
Weeks, and Sissy Wong for their help with various parts of this study. We also appreciate the
assistance of Sharon Black. This study was made possible by National Science Foundation
Grants 1247096 and 0918697. The findings, conclusions, and opinions herein are the views of
the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of personnel affiliated with the National
Science Foundation.
Corresponding author: Ryan S. Nixon, Department of Teacher Education, Brigham
Young University, 206M MCKB, Provo, UT, 84602. Email: rynixon@byu.edu
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
3
Abstract
Many new science teachers are assigned to teach subjects in which they have not been prepared,
a practice referred to as out-of-field (OOF) teaching. Teaching OOF has been shown to
negatively influence instruction and constrain teachers’ development. In this study we explored
the extent to which new secondary science teachers were assigned OOF across their first five
years. Analysis of this longitudinal data set indicated that these assignments were common.
While new science teachers were assigned to teach a variety of subjects over their first five years
of teaching, they were not assigned more or fewer OOF courses over time. Furthermore, results
indicated that teachers in certain situations are more likely than others to be assigned to teach
OOF. Even with federal legislation in the United States seeking to eliminate OOF teaching, a
large portion of new secondary science teachers are assigned to teach science disciplines for
which they are inadequately prepared. Based on the findings of this study, it is worth exploring
policy avenues that eliminate OOF teaching. Policymakers, administrators, and teacher educators
should seek to provide supports, such as science-specific induction programs designed for new
teachers who are assigned OOF, and science teacher educators should prepare prospective
teachers to teach multiple science disciplines.
Keywords: out-of-field teaching, new science teachers, science teacher education
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
4
Prevalence and Predictors of Out-of-Field Teaching in the First Five Years
Teachers in their first five years are a population that warrants study (Luft, 2007), as they
make up a large portion of the teaching force in many nations worldwide (Ingersoll, Merrill, &
Stuckey, 2014; Jensen, Sandoval-Hernádez, Knoll, & Gonzalez, 2012; Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 2005; Willett, Segal, & Walford, 2014).
These new teachers are going through a period of major growth and development accompanied
by many challenges as they transition from preparation programs to full responsibility for a
classroom and student learning (Davis, Petish, & Smithey, 2006; Henry, Fortner, & Bastian,
2012; Jensen et al., 2012; Luft, Dubois, Nixon, & Campbell, 2015; Veenman, 1984). Studying
new teachers can provide insights into ways of supporting them during these early years and
improving education for prospective teachers.
Past research has indicated that new science teachers are assigned to teach subjects for
which they have not been prepared, commonly referred to as out-of-field (OOF) teaching, more
frequently than experienced science teachers (Ingersoll, 1999; Lock, Salt, & Soares, 2011).
Adding the challenges of teaching OOF (Childs & McNicholl, 2007; du Plessis, Carroll, &
Gillies, 2015; Sanders, Borko, & Lockard, 1993) to those typically experienced by new teachers
can disrupt teachers’ development and may lead them to exit the profession (Donaldson &
Johnson, 2010; European Commission [EC], 2010; Hobbs, 2013; Keigher, 2010; Patterson,
Roehrig, & Luft, 2003; Sharplin, 2014). There are also concerns about the quality of science
instruction by teachers who are both new to teaching and unprepared in the subject area (EC,
2013; Sharplin, 2014).
Despite concerns related to new teachers’ OOF assignments, we do not yet have a basic
understanding of how new teachers’ assignments change across the years, having relied wholly
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
5
on cross-sectional data. In this manuscript the term assignment refers to the subject area(s) a
teacher is responsible for teaching during a given school year. In this study, we use longitudinal
data to investigate the prevalence of OOF assignments during the first five years of teaching.
Whereas past studies have simply compared the prevalence of OOF teaching among groups of
teachers (e.g., Ingersoll, 1999, 2008), longitudinal data allow for insights into how teaching
assignments change over time and in the context of other factors. In this study we seek to answer
the following questions:
1. What is the prevalence of OOF assignments among this sample of new science teachers?
2. How does the extent of OOF assignments change over the first five years of teaching?
3. What factors (e.g., percentage of English language learners, school level, school location,
certification status, and induction program) predict the extent of OOF assignments among
new science teachers?
Theoretical Framing
This study was guided by Fessler and Christensen’s (1992) description of the teacher
career cycle (Rolls & Plauborg, 2009). This model includes eight stages: pre-service, induction,
competency building, enthusiastic and growing, career frustration, career stability, career wind-
down, and career exit. The outcomes of these stages and of teachers’ progress through them are
influenced by various factors related to the organization in which teachers work and to their own
personal lives.
The induction stage, which generally spans the first several years of a teacher’s career, is
a time of uncertainty and vulnerability. Teachers tend to focus on “survival” as they figure out
the basics of the job and seek acceptance from peers. Changes in teaching assignment can
lengthen the induction stage and may return experienced teachers to this stage.
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
6
The competency building stage is a period of improvement and innovation. Teachers in
this stage have established basic skills and now seek to develop and extend their abilities. This
may involve seeking new instructional strategies and materials or engaging in professional
development opportunities. However, teaching assignments can influence a teacher’s progression
through this stage, as more challenging assignments may return him or her to the induction stage
or increase the time required to build teaching competency.
Teachers pass through these stages as introductory steps leading into the profession.
Challenges during these stages prevent some teachers from reaching later stages of the career
cycle. If they do not develop teaching competency, they may become stagnant for the remainder
of their career. They may also experience challenges that cause them to quickly transition to the
career wind-down and career exit stages, more rapidly leaving the profession.
This framework offers two considerations crucial for this paper. First, as new teachers are
in the early stages of developing their instruction, they are particularly vulnerable and in need of
support. Second, OOF assignments may exacerbate the challenges new teachers face by
interfering with meeting their needs while in these early stages of the career cycle. OOF
assignments have been identified as one factor among many that contribute to teacher attrition
(Patterson et al., 2003). This study uses the framework of the teacher career cycle to situate the
problem of OOF teaching among new teachers.
Literature Review
OOF Teaching in Science
OOF teaching occurs when a teacher is assigned to teach a subject for which he or she
has not been prepared (Donaldson & Johnson, 2010; du Plessis, 2015; Ingersoll, 1999). This
could include being assigned to teach elementary when one has been prepared to teach in
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
7
secondary school or to teach social studies when prepared to teach mathematics. The concept of
OOF teaching is related to what is called specialization in some regions of the world (e.g., The
Royal Society, 2007).
Science teachers are OOF when they are assigned to teach a science discipline for which
they have not been prepared: for example, a teacher who is prepared to teach biology but is
assigned to teach chemistry. Science is comprised of multiple disciplines that differ not only by
topical emphases (e.g., chemistry focusing on matter; biology focusing on living things), but also
by their discipline-specific ways of constructing and structuring knowledge (Schwab, 1964). For
example, physics often emphasizes finding quantitative relationships of generic variables, while
chemistry is often concerned with interactions of types of substances (Bernal & Daza, 2010).
Disciplinary differences require variations in understanding and instruction (Kloser, 2012). Thus
preparation to teach one science discipline is unlikely to produce adequate knowledge of subject
matter or pedagogical content knowledge to teach a different science discipline.
In this study OOF teaching is operationally defined as being assigned to teach a science
discipline for which one does not hold a major or minor. In the United States (US), where these
data were collected, a major is the primary academic focus of a university student’s studies.
While all students are required to complete a set of general education courses regardless of their
academic focus, their major determines the bulk of the courses they complete beyond this
general set. A minor is a secondary academic focus that students may add to their major. For
many students a minor is not necessary to receive a university degree, while a major is required.
Both a major and a minor indicate a substantial amount of coursework in a specific subject area,
though requirements differ among majors, minors, and institutions.
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
8
While holding a major or minor in a science discipline is not direct evidence of adequate
subject matter knowledge for effective science instruction (Ingersoll, 1999; Jerald, 2002), there
are three reasons to use this operational definition. First, much of the extant literature uses
teachers’ major/minor to indicate whether a teachers assignment is in field or OOF (Ingersoll,
1999; Jerald, 2002; Rushton et al., 2014; Seastrom, Gruber, Henke, McGrath, & Cohen, 2004).
Second, a major/minor indicates extensive coursework in a subject area, suggesting that an
individual has gained significant competence in that discipline. Finally, coursework in a subject
area, as required to earn a major/minor, has been associated with student learning (Monk, 1994)
and effective instruction (Hacker & Rowe, 1985). Rather than determining OOF status based on
a direct measure of teachers’ subject matter knowledge, we used the subject area of their
major/minor, a commonly accepted, broad, and widely available indicator of teacher preparation.
Effects of OOF Teaching
Scholars and policymakers are concerned that OOF teaching negatively impacts
instruction (Carlsen, 1991, 1992, 1997; du Plessis et al., 2015; Grossman, Wilson, & Shulman,
1989; Lee, 1995; Sanders et al., 1993). For instance, one seminal study observed experienced
teachers’ instruction of both an in-field topic and an OOF topic (Sanders et al., 1993). The
teachers’ in-field teaching included fine-tuned lessons, multiple ways of presenting the concepts,
and effective responses to student questions. When teaching OOF, the same teachers struggled to
respond to student questions and were more rigid in their interactions with students (e.g., seeking
exact definitions to tell students, spending more time explaining content). While these teachers
struggled with limited subject matter knowledge, they were able to rely on well-developed
pedagogical knowledge to support their instruction when teaching OOF. Another study
compared the planning and instruction of secondary science teachers in two subjects (physics
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
9
and chemistry), one in which they were knowledgeable and one in which they were less
knowledgeable (Hashweh, 1987). Results indicated that teachers’ instruction was significantly
different when teaching the subject in which they were knowledgeable than when teaching a
subject in which they were less knowledgeable. When teachers were knowledgeable about a
subject, they were able to determine how the content should be presented, rather than simply
following the textbook or other provided activities. Additionally, teachers used primarily
synthesis level questions in subjects in which they were knowledgeable, but resorted to recall
level questions in subjects in which they had less knowledge and experience. In addition to lower
quality instruction, researchers have observed decreased student achievement in students taught
by OOF teachers (Darling-Hammond & Youngs, 2002; Monk, 1994).
OOF teaching has negative effects on teachers themselves as well as on their students’
learning (Childs & McNicholl, 2007; Sharplin, 2014; Steyn & du Plessis, 2007). In research by
Childs and McNicholl (2007), for example, teachers expressed many challenges they
experienced with an OOF assignment, including difficulties in dealing with student motivation
and concerns over selecting appropriate instructional strategies. In another study Steyn and du
Plessis (2007) found that OOF teachers in South Africa felt inadequate and stressed while
working with students. They also found that OOF teachers had constrained relationships with
parents and colleagues. These negative effects may lead to increased attrition among new
teachers who are assigned OOF (Donaldson & Johnson, 2010; Fessler & Christensen, 1992;
Keigher, 2010; Lock et al., 2011; Patterson et al., 2003; Sharplin, 2014)
Prevalence of OOF Teaching
Research from across the world has indicated that many teachers, especially science
teachers, are assigned OOF (du Plessis, 2015; Hobbs, 2013; Ingersoll, 1999; Kola & Sunday,
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
10
2015; Robinson, 1985). Analyzing data on mathematics and science teachers from 15 countries,
Zhou (2014) found that the prevalence of teachers assigned OOF ranged from 1.97% in Hungary
to 15.7% in Brazil. In the US Ingersoll (1999) found that OOF teachers made up 20.3% of all
science teachers, 33.1% of life science teachers, and 56.5% of physical science teachers. Other
studies have found similarly high percentages of OOF teaching in US science classrooms
(Ingersoll & Gruber, 1996; Rushton et al., 2014).
Studies have shown higher rates of OOF teaching among new science teachers. Ingersoll
(1999) found that 23.2% of science teachers with less than five years of experience were
assigned OOF, in contrast to 14.5% of those who had been teaching science for more than 25
years. Banilower and colleagues (2015) found that 56% of new physics teachers and 67% of new
earth science teachers were OOF. While these studies showed that new teachers are assigned
OOF more than experienced teachers, the point at which teachers begin to transition to teaching
more in field has not been identified. As OOF assignments have been cited as a reason for
leaving the profession (Donaldson & Johnson, 2010; Keigher, 2010; Patterson et al., 2003;
Sharplin, 2014; Soares, Lock, & Foster, 2008) and almost half of new teachers leave within the
first five years (Ingersoll et al., 2014; National Academies of Sciences, 2015), this shift towards
more in-field teaching may begin during the first five years.
Long-term awareness of this problem in the US has led to many calls to eliminate OOF
teaching (Brodbelt, 1990; Council for Basic Education [CBE], 1986; Ingersoll & Gruber, 1996;
NCTEPS, 1965; Robinson, 1985), influencing No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation
requiring that all US teachers be “highly qualified” by the end of the 2005-2006 school year
i
(Ingersoll, Hoxby, & Scrupski, 2004; Jerald, 2002; U.S. Department of Education [US DOE],
2002). Under NCLB, teachers were originally required to demonstrate competency in their
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
11
subject area by completing adequate college coursework in the subject area and passing a subject
test. Although this legislation formally prohibited OOF teaching, in many states the requirements
to be “highly qualified” were broad enough to allow teachers to be assigned in disciplines for
which they had inadequate preparation but still be considered “highly qualified” (National
Council on Teacher Quality, 2010). This problem was exacerbated by the official loosening of
requirements for highly qualified status as the deadline approached (US DOE, 2004). While
reports have indicated that the number of teachers who are highly qualified has increased under
NCLB (US DOE, 2011), we are aware of no study that examines the prevalence of OOF teaching
during NCLB implementation. Research conducted with NCLB-era data is necessary to
understand the current status of OOF teaching in the US.
The high prevalence of OOF teaching has been attributed to the shortage of qualified
teachers (Brodbelt, 1990; Ingersoll, 1999): teachers are assigned OOF because sufficient teachers
are not available to fill needed positions. However, several researchers have argued that teacher
shortages contribute to OOF assignments but are not the sole or main causes. OOF teaching
occurs in disciplines with surpluses, such as English (Ingersoll, 1999; Ingersoll et al., 2004;
Robinson, 1985), and in schools that had reported no hiring difficulties the previous year
(Ingersoll, 1999; Ingersoll et al., 2004). These authors argue that OOF teaching is not due to a
limited number of prepared teachers, but to their misassignment.
Teachers are assigned OOF more frequently in some types of schools than others.
Researchers have found that schools with higher percentages of students living in poverty are
more likely to have teachers who are assigned OOF than schools with fewer students living in
poverty (Ingersoll, 1999, 2008; Ingersoll et al., 2004; National Commission on Teaching &
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
12
America's Future [NCTAF], 1996). These findings raise questions about the distribution of OOF
teachers at schools with high percentages of other traditionally underserved populations.
Despite the increasing population of English language learners (ELL) in the US (Kena,
2016; Samson & Collins, 2012), we are not aware of research exploring the prevalence of OOF
teaching with this population. Some research has documented teachers who are not specifically
prepared to teach ELLs (e.g., Commission on Teacher Credentialing, 2008), but this does not
relate to their disciplinary preparation. It is important that ELL students are not taught by a
disproportionate number of OOF teachers (EC, 2015; OECD, 2004).
Schools in certain locations and at certain levels are also more likely to have OOF
teachers. Past research has found that schools located in rural (Ingersoll, 1998; Ingersoll &
Curran, 2004; Robinson, 1985) or urban (Ingersoll et al., 2004) areas are more likely to have
teachers assigned OOF than suburban schools, a situation which has been attributed to teacher
shortages (Ingersoll & Curran, 2004; Robinson, 1985). OOF teaching in rural schools is likely
also due to efforts to provide all of the course offerings available at larger schools but with fewer
teachers (Ingersoll & Curran, 2004). Additionally, middle schools (grades 6-9) tend to have a
larger portion of teachers assigned OOF than high schools (grades 10-12; Banilower et al., 2015;
Ingersoll, 2008; Robinson, 1985). Ingersoll (2008) reported that 42% of US middle school
teachers were OOF, compared to 17% of high school teachers. Furthermore, 45% of new middle
school science teachers were OOF in life science, while only 17% of new high school science
teachers had OOF assignments in life science (Banilower et al., 2015). While these studies
indicated differences in assignments for teachers at schools in differing locations and levels,
these studies only provide information about short specific periods of time. Longitudinal data are
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
13
needed to track teachers across school years, as they stay in the same school or move to a
different one, to indicate how school location and level predict teaching assignment.
Finally, past research has not examined the potential influence of teacher certification on
OOF assignment. Teachers who do not hold teaching certificates have generally been educated in
the subject area they are hired to teach but have not participated in a teacher preparation
program. Research highlighting these teachers can provide insights into the influence of teacher
preparation programs on teacher assignment.
Methods
Participants
Data for this study are part of a larger project that investigated the effects of four different
induction programs on the practices, beliefs, and knowledge of new science teachers across their
first five years (Luft, 2009; Luft et al., 2011). All teachers selected for the larger study were
included in this study. They had been purposefully recruited based on participation in one of the
four investigated induction programs. Teachers who agreed to participate in the study were
provided a $400 stipend for each year of participation. Teachers were interested in participating
because the study was novel and important for the field of science education. Moreover, teachers
received a summary of their data at the end of the study, allowing them to track their progress.
The 137 teachers who participated (see Table 1, Table 2, and Figure 1) taught in
secondary schools located in five states in the Midwestern and Southwestern US. At the
beginning of the study all participants were newly hired and preparing to begin their first year of
teaching. Researchers followed the teachers across their first five years of teaching, including
those who changed locations (e.g., schools, districts, states) during the study period. Compared
to national reports of teacher demographics, this sample of new secondary science teachers
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
14
appears to be reasonably representative of the national population in characteristics commonly
reported (i.e., gender, age, certification pathway, and school location; Banilower et al., 2015;
Coopersmith, 2009; Gray & Taie, 2015).
[Insert Table 1 about here]
[Insert Table 2 about here]
[Insert Figure 1 about here]
As is common with longitudinal data collection, some participants did not provide data
for all five years for a variety of reasons (e.g., no longer wishing to participate, not being
available for contact). Other teachers ended participation in the study because they left the
profession during their first five years. Table 3 shows the response rate for each year, with only
74 teachers providing sufficient data and remaining in the profession in year five. Data collection
began in the 2005-2006 school year and concluded in the 2009-2010 school year, during which
time NCLB legislation was in full effect.
[Insert Table 3 about here]
The processes of data collection, analysis, and storage used in this study were reviewed
and approved by the relevant institutional review boards and local educational authorities. All
participants provided consent to use their data for research purposes. Additionally, standardized
procedures were implemented to protect participants’ confidentiality, such as password protected
computers.
Data Sources and Variables
Data for this study were collected by conducting a series of interviews and by consulting
official school, university, and state documents. Teachers were first interviewed during the
summer prior to their first year of classroom teaching, then at the end of each subsequent school
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
15
year, with the last interview after their fifth year of teaching. The study was paused at the end of
the third year due to the end of a grant cycle; thus limited data were collected during the fourth
year, with more complete data being gathered in the fifth year when funding resumed. Data were
also collected from documents found on official school and district websites.
Data used for this study came from three questions that were included in the demographic
interviews for the larger project. One question asked teachers to provide their major (and minor,
if applicable). The second question asked them to describe their route to receiving a teaching
certificate (e.g., masters degree). These two questions were asked only at the beginning of the
study. The third question, asked every year of the study, required participating teachers to list the
courses they were assigned to teach that year and the school where they worked. The interviews
from which these questions were drawn have been described elsewhere (see Luft, 2009; Luft et
al., 2011). While these data are largely self-report, often considered a limitation, we have no
reason to expect that teachers would inaccurately report this information, intentionally or
unintentionally, as these questions are simple and involve no disclosure of sensitive information.
Official school, district, or university documents were also used as data sources. These
documents included, for example, university listings of courses comprising a major/minor,
district websites with the percentage of students who qualified for English as a second language
services, or school websites giving the school address. If not readily available online, this
information was requested from the school, district, or university.
Data from these interviews were transformed into quantitative form and entered into a
spreadsheet. All of the variables used in the analysis and the process for transforming them from
qualitative to quantitative are described below. Generally one researcher initially determined a
value for each variable, which was reviewed by a second researcher. When the two disagreed on
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
16
a value, they engaged in further consultation and involved a third researcher if necessary to agree
on the final value.
Out-of-field teaching score (OOF SCORE). The OOF SCORE was the extent to which
a teacher was assigned OOF courses during each year, determined by comparing the teachers’
major/minor and the subject area(s) of the courses they were assigned to teach each year. For
example, a teacher with a major in chemistry would be considered in field when teaching a
chemistry course and out of field when teaching an earth science course. When the subject area
did not neatly fit into one of the categories (e.g., environmental science), researchers had to
determine whether this was an in-field or an OOF assignment based on whether the individual’s
university coursework aligned with the course being taught.
Each assignment was given an OOF SCORE, ranging from 1 to 5: 1 = all in field, 2 =
mostly in field, 3 = half and half (half in field and half OOF), 4 = mostly OOF, and 5 = all OOF.
These designations were based on the portion of in-field or OOF courses a teacher taught. Thus a
teacher assigned to teach three in-field and three OOF courses would have a score of 3 (half and
half). Similarly, a teacher with two in-field and two OOF courses would have an OOF SCORE of
3. This system allowed for comparisons across schools, which can differ in the total number of
courses teachers are expected to teach. Additionally, this scoring system adds to past work by
allowing a spectrum of OOF designations, in contrast to an either-or decision between in field or
OOF (Seastrom et al., 2004; Sharplin, 2014). As teachers are often assigned to a combination of
in-field and OOF courses, this scoring system provides a more accurate designation of their
assignments.
These levels are not necessarily evenly spaced because the change between OOF
SCORES is not necessarily of equal magnitude. For example, a teacher who transitions from
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
17
teaching all in field to mostly in field likely experiences a larger shift in strain than a teacher who
transitions from mostly in field to half and half. This leads us to utilize a model which allows for
unevenly spaced changes between OOF levels.
While the majority of courses teachers were assigned to teach OOF were science
disciplines, some teachers were periodically assigned to teach non-science courses. For example,
one teacher was assigned to teach a drumming course during his fifth year, and another was
assigned to teach algebra her first year. New teachers in the US are generally expected to teach
the same number of hours as experienced teachers.
We must emphasize that our operationalization of OOF teaching is based on the subjects
that teachers were prepared to teach as indicated by the subject area of their major/minor. We
acknowledge, with past researchers who have used this indicator (Ingersoll, 1999; Jerald, 2002),
that teachers may have a major/minor in a subject area and still not have the necessary subject
matter knowledge to teach it. Conversely, a teacher may have sufficient knowledge to teach in a
subject area without having a major/minor in it (Ringstaff & Sandholtz, 2002). Furthermore, we
recognize that this indicator does not necessarily reflect the quality of instruction or student
learning. Therefore, we avoid making claims about teachers’ subject matter knowledge,
instruction, or student learning, but instead focus on their assignments across their first five
years.
Year (YR). The number of years the teacher had been teaching was an ordinal variable
(e.g., YR1 for the first year). As described previously, data for the fourth year were limited and
thus did not meet the assumptions required for the statistical analysis. Fourth year data were
therefore omitted from the analysis.
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
18
Percentage of English Language Learners (ELL). The percentage of the total student
population at the school at which the teacher was employed who were receiving English as a
second language services, as indicated in official school records or online reports. This is the
only continuous variable in the analysis.
School level (LEV). The grade level of the school at which the teacher taught was a
categorical variable with three levels: (a) middle school, (b) high school, or (c) other (e.g., a 6-12
school). Middle schools are secondary schools spanning grades six through nine. High schools
are secondary schools with at least grades 10 through 12. Some teachers were employed at
schools that did not match these traditional classifications.
School location (LOC). The categorical variable of geographic location of the school at
which the teacher taught was classified on three levels: (a) rural, (b) suburban, or (c) urban.
Rural schools are located in smaller communities with a limited number of schools, suburban
schools are on the outskirts of large cities, and urban schools are located within large cities. The
US DOE (2006) was referred to in assigning these categories.
Certification (CERT). The teacher’s certification was a variable originally reported as
the teacher’s pathway into teaching: an undergraduate degree, a post-baccalaureate certification
program (in which individuals with a bachelor’s degree complete additional coursework to
become certified), a masters degree, or teaching without a teaching certificate. Treating each of
these levels independently did not match the assumptions for the model; thus a dichotomous
variable was used so the assumptions would be met. This dichotomous variable consisted of (a)
teachers who held a teaching certificate and (b) teachers who did not.
Induction program (IND). The induction program in which the teacher was enrolled
was a four-level categorical variable: (a) science specific programs, (b) electronic mentoring
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
19
programs, (c) general induction programs provided by school districts, and (d) internship
programs providing coursework while teaching (see Luft et al., 2011). As the larger study was
designed to investigate the effect of induction programs, it was necessary to include this variable.
Analysis
A simple frequency count of each OOF SCORE level was used to answer the first
question posed in this study. Two approaches were used to understand the changes in the extent
of OOF assignments, the second research question. First, we explored how teaching assignments
changed from one year to the next, classifying transitions by comparing the OOF SCORE of
each year with the OOF SCORE of the subsequent year. We refer to these as transitions because
teachers’ OOF SCORE often, but not always, changed from one year to another. For example,
one teacher was assigned all in field in YR1 and all in field in YR2. Another teacher was
assigned mostly in field in YR2 and changed to mostly OOF for YR3. These are both examples
of transitions. Since determining the transition required two OOF SCORES (for both YR X and
YR Y) and there were missing data, only 180 transitions were available. The second approach
for examining change in assignments involved an ordinal logistic regression model used to
determine how YR predicted OOF SCORE. Ordinal logistic regression is ideal when seeking to
understand how various factors predict an ordinal outcome variable. Furthermore, ordinal
logistic regression is sensitive to the longitudinal aspect of this data set and allows for missing
data.
Analysis for question three also utilized an ordinal logistic regression model to
understand how ELL, LEV, LOC, CERT, and IND predicted OOF SCORE. While 137 teachers
participated in this study, data from each year constituted a separate data point. For this reason,
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
20
there was a maximum n of 548 (137 participants over four years), though it was never this large
due to missing data.
Prior to running the models, we verified that each variable met the assumption of
proportional odds, which states that the relationship between any pair of ordered groups (1 vs. 2-
5, 2 vs. 3-5, or even 5 vs. 1-4) is the same. This assumption allowed us to use one set of
coefficients for our model instead of many in the case where proportional odds were not met.
Following confirmation of the assumptions, the models were constructed to answer each research
question. The Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) was used to determine the best model, as it is
a measure designed to balance the predictive power of a model with the number of predictors
included in it (Cavanaugh, 2007). Models with lower AIC values attain a better balance.
Findings
The purpose of this study was to better understand the phenomenon of OOF assignments
for science teachers across their first five years of teaching. The findings related to each research
question are presented in this section.
Q1. Prevalence of OOF Teaching Among This Sample of New Science Teachers
These data show that new science teachers were assigned OOF at various levels during
their first five years (see Table 4). Of the five levels of teaching assignment, the most common
was all in field, accounting for 35.7% of assignments across the first five years. The second most
common level of teaching assignment was all OOF, encompassing 21.7% of assignments. The
remaining 42.6% of assignments were some mixture of in field and OOF, with more assignments
being mostly OOF (20.4%) than mostly in field (15.5%). The least common teaching assignment
level was half and half (6.7%).
[Insert Table 4 about here]
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
21
Q2. Changes in Extent of OOF Teaching Over the First Five Years
Prior to examining predictors of changes in the extent of OOF teaching, we sought to
determine the number of changes in assignments for this sample over the first five years. Table 5
shows the number of each type of transition observed (e.g., the number of times participants
moved from mostly in field in one year to all in field the next year). These findings indicate that
70% of the transitions involved changes in the extent to which teachers were assigned OOF.
While the most common transition (n = 38, 21%) was from all in field in one year to all in field
the next year (no change), the next most common transitions were between all in field and mostly
OOF (n = 34, 19%) and between all in field and all OOF (n = 27, 15%). Thus these new
secondary science teachers experienced extensive changes in assignment during their first five
years.
[Insert Table 5 about here]
Regression analysis in which OOF SCORE was regressed on YR indicated new science
teachers’ assignment was not predicted by how long they had been teaching (see Table 6 and
Figure 2). No level of YR was a significant predictor. Thus the extent to which new science
teachers were assigned OOF did not significantly change over their first five years of teaching.
[Insert Table 6 and Figure 2 about here]
Q3. Factors Predicting the Extent of OOF Assignments Among New Science Teachers
To explore factors that predict the extent of OOF teaching, an ordinal logistic regression
model in which OOF SCORE was regressed on ELL, LEV, LOC, and CERT was found to be the
best model (AIC = 1060.608, see Table 7). In this model a proxy scale was aligned with the OOF
SCORE and used to predict the OOF SCORE based on other variables. Figure 3 illustrates the
alignment of these scales by defining the cut points on the proxy scale at which one OOF
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
22
SCORE moves to another. For example, OOF SCORE = 2 spans from -1.51 to -0.78 on the
proxy scale. The coefficients in Table 6 indicate movement along the proxy scale based on the
value of the corresponding variable. Note that this model excludes the variables of YR and IND,
as they were not significant predictors of OOF SCORE.
[Insert Table 7 and Figure 3 about here]
This model indicates that teachers at schools with a higher percentage of ELL students
were likely to be OOF to a greater extent. For example, a new teacher who was assigned to teach
half and half (OOF SCORE = 3) at a school with 5% ELL would likely be assigned to teach
mostly OOF (OOF SCORE = 4) at a school with 29% ELL students. Since the distances between
the cut points are not equal, this difference in the percentage of ELL students would not
necessarily predict shifts with other levels (e.g., from 2 to 3).
Level and location of the school where teachers taught were also found to be significant
predictors of teaching assignment. Teachers hired in middle schools were more likely to be
assigned OOF than teachers working in high schools. Thus a teacher who was assigned to teach
mostly in field (OOF SCORE = 2) at a high school would likely be assigned to teach half and
half at a middle school (OOF SCORE = 3). Second, a teacher is likely to be assigned more OOF
in an urban or rural school than in a suburban school. For instance, a new teacher who was
assigned to teach half and half (OOF SCORE = 3) at an urban or rural school would likely be
assigned to teach all in field (OOF SCORE = 1) in a suburban school if all other factors were
held constant.
Finally, this model indicates that new science teachers who are not certified teach more
in-field courses than those who are certified. In a situation where a certified teacher was assigned
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
23
to teach all OOF (OOF SCORE = 5), a teacher without a certificate would likely teach all in-
field (OOF SCORE = 1).
Discussion
These findings show the high prevalence of OOF teaching among new secondary science
teachers across their first five years, with 64.3% of assignments including at least one OOF
course. This percentage of OOF teaching exceeds levels observed for science teachers in many
nations (e.g., Zhou, 2014), including the US (Banilower et al., 2015; Ingersoll, 1999). This may
be because all participants in this study were new teachers, who have been shown in past studies
to be assigned OOF more than experienced teachers (Ingersoll, 1999). Furthermore, this study
used a more stringent scoring system than is often used in this type of research (Seastrom et al.,
2004). Rather than designating an assignment as either in field or OOF, the scoring system in this
study accounted for the proportion of courses taught OOF. This scoring system provides a more
accurate estimation of OOF teaching.
The high prevalence of OOF teaching reported in this study compounds an already
challenging and vulnerable phase for new teachers, as articulated by Fessler and Christensen
(1992) and others (Davis et al., 2006; Luft et al., 2015). When assigned OOF, these new teachers
face additional difficulties with building confidence and developing relationships with students
and peers, the major conflicts that typically occur during the induction stage (Fessler &
Christensen, 1992). These additional demands may prevent OOF teachers from moving into the
competency building stage, bring them back to the induction stage, or taint their progress as they
move into future stages. Being assigned OOF in their early years may influence their
development as teachers in unexpected wayssome possibly positive, others potentially
undesirable.
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
24
While the finding that many teachers are teaching OOF is not new, a unique contribution
of this study comes from the fact that these data were collected while NCLB was in effect. This
is the only study we know about that has explored OOF assignments during the NCLB era. The
results suggest that while a high portion of teachers may have become “highly qualified” (US
DOE, 2011), many new teachers were still being assigned OOF. The NCLB policy appears to
have been ineffective in eliminating OOF teaching assignments with this sample of new
secondary science teachers.
These findings also indicate that new science teachers’ assignments changed often over
their first five years of teaching, information previously inaccessible due to the use of cross-
sectional data. This suggests an additional challenge facing new teacherspreparing for new
courses each year. Preparing for multiple courses has been noted as a challenge for teachers,
requiring extensive time commitments (Gess-Newsome & Lederman, 1995; Ringstaff &
Sandholtz, 2002). Some of these changes in assignments are due to changing schools, while
others are mandated by administrators at the school at which a teacher is already employed.
Further research is needed into why teaching assignments change so often and how the repeated
changes impact a new teacher.
Despite frequent changes in teaching assignments, teachers were not assigned more or
fewer OOF courses over the first five years. This indicates that the shift to teaching more in field
does not occur in the first five years. Research extending past the first five years of teaching is
needed to identify when the shift to more in-field teaching occurs in order to better understand
the phenomenon of OOF teaching.
The fact that teachers were not assigned more in field across the first five years calls into
question the link claimed between new teacher attrition and OOF assignments. If teachers were
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
25
more likely to leave the profession due to OOF assignments, one would expect more OOF
assignments in the first year than the fifth year. Although past studies have indicated that
teachers are more likely to leave a position when assigned OOF (Donaldson & Johnson, 2010;
Keigher, 2010; Lock et al., 2011; Patterson et al., 2003; Sharplin, 2014), these findings challenge
that conclusion. It may be that factors beyond subject area preparation are more influential in
determining whether a teacher accepts a specific position. For example, past researchers have
found that factors such as school location, student population, and school context strongly
influence teachers’ decisions to accept and remain in a position (Boyd, Lankford, Loeb, &
Wyckoff, 2005; Engel, Jacob, & Curran, 2014; Watters & Diezmann, 2015).
This study also adds to the literature by indicating that science teachers in certain
situations are more likely than others to be assigned to teach OOF: those in schools with higher
percentages of ELLs and those in urban or rural schools. In addition to providing a comparison
of OOF assignments in different types of schools, as has been done in past research (e.g.,
Ingersoll, 1998; Ingersoll & Curran, 2004; Ingersoll et al., 2004), this analysis demonstrates that
these types of schools are associated with OOF teaching for teachers across their first five years.
Thus a new science teacher is more likely to be assigned OOF at schools with these
characteristics. The high incidence of OOF assignments in these types of schools may be
associated with these schools’ continual struggle to maintain a qualified staff. However, past
research has strongly argued that OOF teaching is not solely the result of teaching shortages
(Ingersoll, 1999; Ingersoll et al., 2004). Instead it may be related to lower expectations for
students (Boser, Wilhelm, & Hanna, 2014). With lower expectations for student performance,
administrators may not view OOF teaching as a problem.
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
26
This study also documented the higher prevalence of OOF teaching in schools with
higher percentages of ELLs. It is important that ELLs are not taught by a disproportionate
number of OOF teachers. While there are specific skills needed for teaching ELLs (Samson &
Collins, 2012), "highly qualified and well-trained teachers may become highly unqualified if,
once on the job, they are assigned to teach subjects for which they have little background"
(Ingersoll et al., 2004, p. 46).
Teachers working in schools where faculty are required to teach multiple subjects are
also more likely to be assigned OOF, including middle schools, where teachers may be
responsible for a span of science disciplines, and rural schools, where the limited number of
teachers requires that they teach multiple science disciplines (Ingersoll et al., 2004; Robinson,
1985). These situations raise questions about whether such teachers can know the science content
and pedagogy sufficiently to be effective in teaching multiple subjects. Further research is
needed in this area.
Finally, teachers who are certified are more likely to be assigned OOF than those without
certification. Those who have been prepared as teachers may be perceived as being better able to
teach a wider variety of subjects. However, problems occur when a teacher does not have a broad
science background and the administrator assumes that being certified in one science discipline
is adequate for teaching other science disciplines. This assumption may be justified in that
teachers who are OOF draw on their knowledge of pedagogy when their knowledge of the
subject matter is inadequate (Sanders et al., 1993). However, this rationalization overlooks the
importance of subject matter knowledge and the differences among science disciplines.
Limitations
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
27
We acknowledge that OOF teaching assignments, as operationalized in this study, may
not always be deleterious. Teachers may have the required subject matter knowledge and
pedagogical content knowledge without having a major/minor in the subject area. The use of
proxies, such as major/minor or number of courses in a subject area, has been found to be
problematic (National Research Council [NRC], 2013). Nonetheless, teachers’ major/minor is
generally considered an adequate indicator of subject area preparation.
In certain instances an OOF teacher may be an asset to student learning (Nixon & Luft,
2015; Olitsky, 2006; Ringstaff & Sandholtz, 2002). There also may be benefits in allowing a
teacher to expand his or her expertise to other disciplines. Additionally, a teacher may accept an
OOF position in order to work in a desirable location or with a preferred population (Boyd et al.,
2005). Thus a teacher may accept an OOF position in ways that are personally fulfilling, which
may ultimately have a positive impact on students.
Implications
The results of this study lead to several implications for policymakers, administrators,
and teacher educators. First, even with NCLB legislation, a large portion of new secondary
science teachers in this study have been assigned to teach science disciplines for which they had
not completed a major or minor. With the revision of NCLB known as the Every Student
Succeeds Act, federal requirements to be “highly qualified” are replaced by state certification
and licensing requirements (US DOE, 2015). How states respond to the increased flexibility and
the subsequent effect on OOF teaching assignments has yet to be seen (Sawchuk, 2016). While
this study does not examine causes of the high prevalence of OOF teaching in spite of NCLB
legislation, OOF teaching likely persists because existing policies allow teachers to be regarded
as highly qualified in all science disciplines although they are not prepared in the specific
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
28
disciplines they are being assigned to teach. Whether these current definitions and requirements
are meeting the purpose of the policies needs evaluation. It is time to explore other policy
avenues that may eliminate OOF teaching.
Policymakers, administrators, and teacher educators should seek to provide supports for
new teachers who have been assigned OOF (du Plessis et al., 2015; Sharplin, 2014). Past
researchers have found that science-specific induction support is important in helping new
teachers develop their capacity as teachers (Luft, 2009; Luft et al., 2011). While general science
induction support has been observed in previous research to be beneficial, induction supports that
are specific to an OOF science discipline may be particularly important for those who are
assigned to teach OOF. Support should be targeted at assisting teachers in developing their
subject matter knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge in the OOF subject area. At the
simplest level, existing induction supports could be modified to recognize the needs of
participants who will be teaching OOF to some extent. Other induction programs specific for
OOF teachers may also be beneficial, though the design of such programs has not yet been
explored. For example, it is unknown whether it is more effective to associate OOF teachers in
one discipline with teachers who have in-field assignments in that same discipline or to keep all
OOF teachers together regardless of discipline.
Teacher educators may help reduce the prevalence of OOF teaching in the early years by
helping prospective teachers understand the importance of teaching the discipline in which they
are prepared and cautioning them about the additional challenges faced by those who are OOF.
Teacher educators could also prepare teachers for teaching multiple science disciplines rather
than focusing exclusively on one specific discipline. Such a response is practical because new
teachers are so likely to be OOF and because those who have completed teacher certification
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
29
programs are more likely to be assigned OOF than those who have not. Efforts to prepare
teachers for OOF assignments have not been explored.
Rather than broadening the content preparation for prospective teachers, resulting in
broad but shallow subject matter knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge, ways to better
prepare teachers for science teaching, whether assigned to in-field or OOF courses, should be
considered. For example, a richer knowledge of the crosscutting concepts found in the Next
Generation Science Standards (NRC, 2012) could be useful when teaching OOF (Nixon & Luft,
2015), assisting teachers in making connections to broader science ideas even when teaching in-
field courses. Similarly, a strong base of science pedagogical knowledge has been shown to
support teaching across disciplines (Sanders et al., 1993). Greater science pedagogical
knowledge and increased skills may support new teachers as they work to learn the content for
their OOF assignment. Furthermore, providing teachers with tools to learn science content on
their own may be among the most important aspects of preparing them to teach OOF (Kademian
& Davis, 2016). Tools could be provided that will help teachers to work through their own
understanding of the science (e.g., CoRes, concept sketches, concept maps). Resources assisting
teaching in developing their subject matter knowledge could also be furnished (e.g., Nordine,
2016; Robertson, 2002). Such tools could be used to strengthen their subject matter knowledge,
whether in an in-field or OOF subject area. Similarly, helping teachers see themselves as learners
of science, with important dispositions such as curiosity, intellectual rigor, and confidence, could
be beneficial for teachers’ development whatever their teaching assignment.
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
30
References
Banilower, E. R., Trygstad, P. J., & Smith, P. S. (2015). The first five years: What the 2012
National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education reveals about novice science
teachers and their teaching. In J. A. Luft & S. L. Dubois (Eds.), Newly hired teachers of
science: A better beginning (pp. 3-29). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
Bernal, A., & Daza, E. E. (2010). On the epistemological and ontological status of chemical
relations. HYLE--International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, 16(2), 80-103.
Berry, A., Friedrichsen, P., & Loughran, J. (Eds.). (2015). Re-examining pedagogical content
knowledge in science education. London, England: Routledge.
Boser, U., Wilhelm, M., & Hanna, R. (2014). The power of the Pygmalion Effect: Teachers'
expectations strongly predict college completion. Washington, DC: Center for American
Progress.
Boyd, D., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2005). Explaining the short careers of high-
achieving teachers in schools with low-performing students. The American Economic
Review, 95(2), 166-171.
Brodbelt, S. (1990). Out-of-field teaching. The Clearing House, 63(6), 282-285.
Carlsen, W. S. (1991). Effects of new biology teachers' subject-matter knowledge on curricular
planning. Science Education, 75(6), 631-647.
Carlsen, W. S. (1992). Closing down the conversation: Discouraging student talk on unfamiliar
science content. Journal of Classroom Interaction, 27(2), 15-21.
Carlsen, W. S. (1997). Never ask a question if you don't know the answer: The tension in
teaching between modeling scientific argument and maintaining law and order. Journal
of Classroom Interaction, 32(2), 14-23.
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
31
Cavanaugh, J. (2007). Akaike information criterion. In N. Salkind (Ed.), Encyclopedia of
measurement and statistics (pp. 16-18). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Childs, A., & McNicholl, J. (2007). Science teachers teaching outside of subject specialism:
Challenges, strategies adopted and implications for initial teacher education. Teacher
Development, 11(1), 1-20. doi: 10.1080/13664530701194538
Commission on Teacher Credentialing. (2008). Assignment monitoring of certificated employees
in California by county offices of education 2003-2007, a report to the legislature.
Sacramento, CA: Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
Coopersmith, J. (2009). Characteristics of public, private, and Bureau of Indian education
elementary and secondary school teachers in the United States: Results from the 2007-08
Schools and Staffing Survey. (NCES 2009-324). Washington, DC: National Center for
Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.
Council for Basic Education (CBE). (1986). The widespread abuse of out-of-field teaching. The
Education Digest, 51, 37-39.
Darling-Hammond, L., & Youngs, P. (2002). Defining “highly qualified teachers”: What does
“scientifically-based research” actually tell us? Educational Researcher, 31(9), 13-25.
Davis, E. A., Petish, D., & Smithey, J. (2006). Challenges new science teachers face. Review of
Educational Research, 76(4), 607-651.
Donaldson, M. L., & Johnson, S. M. (2010). The price of misassignment: The role of teaching
assignments in Teach For America teachers' exit from low-income schools and the
teaching profession. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 32(2), 299-323.
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
32
du Plessis, A. E. (2015). Effective education: Conceptualising the meaning of out-of-field
teaching practices for teachers, teacher quality and school leaders. International Journal
of Educational Research, 72, 89-102.
du Plessis, A. E., Carroll, A., & Gillies, R. M. (2015). Understanding the lived experiences of
novice out-of-field teachers in relation to school leadership practices. Asia-Pacific
Journal of Teacher Education, 43(1), 4-21.
Engel, M., Jacob, B. A., & Curran, F. C. (2014). New evidence on teacher labor supply.
American Educational Research Journal, 51(1), 36-72. doi: 10.3102/0002831213503031
European Commission (EC). (2010). Developing coherent and system-wide induction
programmes for beginning teachers: A handbook for policymakers. Brussels, Belgium:
Author.
European Commission (EC). (2013). Supporting teacher competence development: For better
learning outcomes. Brussels, Belgium: Author.
European Commission (EC). (2015). Science education for responsible citizenship. Brussels,
Belgium: Author.
Fessler, R., & Christensen, J. C. (Eds.). (1992). The teacher career cycle: Understanding and
guiding the professional development of teachers. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Gess-Newsome, J., & Lederman, N. G. (1995). Biology teachers' perceptions of subject matter
structure and its relationship to classroom practice. Journal of Research in Science
Teaching, 32(3), 301-325. doi: 10.1002/tea.3660320309
Gray, L., & Taie, S. (2015). Public School Teacher Attrition and Mobility in the First Five
Years: Results From the First Through Fifth Waves of the 200708 Beginning Teacher
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
33
Longitudinal Study. (NCES 2015-337). Washington, DC: National Center for Education
Statistics Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch.
Grossman, P. L., Wilson, S. M., & Shulman, L. S. (1989). Teachers of substance: Subject matter
knowledge for teaching. In M. C. Reynolds (Ed.), Knowledge base for the beginning
teacher (pp. 22-36). Oxford, England: Pergamon.
Hacker, R. G., & Rowe, M. J. (1985). A study of teaching and learning processes in integrated
science classrooms. European Journal of Science Education, 7(2), 173-180.
Hashweh, M. Z. (1987). Effects of subject-matter knowledge in the teaching of biology and
physics. Teaching and Teacher Education, 3(2), 109-120. doi: 10.1016/0742-
051X(87)90012-6
Henry, G. T., Fortner, C. K., & Bastian, K. C. (2012). The effects of experience and attrition for
novice high-school science and mathematics teachers. Science, 335(6072), 1118-1121.
doi: 10.1126/science.1215343
Hobbs, L. (2013). Teaching out-of-field as a boundary-crossing event: Factors shaping teacher
identity. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 11(2), 271-297.
doi: 10.1007/s10763-012-9333-4
Ingersoll, R. M. (1998). The problem of out-of-field teaching. The Phi Delta Kappan(10), 773-
776. doi: 10.2307/20439339
Ingersoll, R. M. (1999). The problem of underqualified teachers in American secondary schools.
Educational Researcher, 28(2), 26-37. doi: 10.3102/0013189x028002026
Ingersoll, R. M. (2008). Core problems: Out-of-field teaching persists in key academic courses
and high poverty schools. Washington, DC: The Education Trust.
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
34
Ingersoll, R. M., & Curran, B. K. (2004). Out-of-field teaching: The great obstacle to meeting
the “highly qualified” teacher challenge. Washington, DC: National Governor's
Association.
Ingersoll, R. M., & Gruber, K. J. (1996). Out-of-field teaching and educational equality. (NCES
96-040). Washington, D.C.: U. S. Department of Education.
Ingersoll, R. M., Hoxby, C. M., & Scrupski, A. F. (2004). Why some schools have more
underqualified teachers than others. Brookings Papers on Education Policy (7), 45-88.
Ingersoll, R. M., Merrill, L., & Stuckey, D. (2014). Seven trends: The transformation of the
teaching force: Research report published by the Consortium for Policy Research in
Education (CPRE).
Jensen, B., Sandoval-Hernádez, A., Knoll, S., & Gonzalez, E. J. (2012). The experience of new
teachers: Results from TALIS 2008: OECD Publishing.
Jerald, C. D. (2002). All talk, no action: Putting an end to out-of-field teaching. Washington, DC:
The Education Trust.
Kademian, S. M., & Davis, E. A. (2016, April). Supporting beginning teacher planning of
investigation-based science discussions. Paper presented at the NARST Annual
International Conference, Baltimore, MD.
Keigher, A. (2010). Teacher attrition and mobility: Results from the 200809 teacher follow-up
survey. (NCES 2010-353). Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics
Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch.
Kena, G., Hussar, W., McFarland, J., de Brey, C., Musu-Gillette, L., Wang, X., Zhang, J.,
Rathbun, A., Wilkinson-Flicker, S., Diliberti, M., Barmer, A., Bullock Mann, F., Dunlop
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
35
Velez, E. (2016). The condition of education 2016. Washington, DC: National Center for
Education Statistics.
Kloser, M. (2012). A place for the nature of biology in biology education. Electronic Journal of
Science Education, 16(1), 1-18.
Kola, A. J., & Sunday, O. S. (2015). A review of teacher self-efficacy, pedagogical content
knowledge (PCK) and out-of-field teaching: Focussing on Nigerian teachers.
International Journal of Elementary Education, 4(3), 80-85.
Lee, O. (1995). Subject matter knowledge, classroom management, and instructional practices in
middle school science classrooms. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 32(4), 423-
440. doi: 10.1002/tea.3660320409
Lock, R., Salt, D., & Soares, A. (2011). Acquisition of science subject knowledge and pedagogy
in initial teacher training. Birmingham, England: Wellcome Trust.
Luft, J. A. (2007). Minding the gap: Needed research on beginning/newly qualified science
teachers. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 44(4), 532-537. doi:
10.1002/tea.20190
Luft, J. A. (2009). Beginning secondary science teachers in different induction programmes: The
first year of teaching. International Journal of Science Education, 31(17), 2355-2384.
doi: 10.1080/09500690802369367
Luft, J. A., Dubois, S. L., Nixon, R. S., & Campbell, B. K. (2015). Supporting newly hired
teachers of science: Attaining teacher professional standards. Studies in Science
Education, 51(1), 1-48. doi: 10.1080/03057267.2014.980559
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
36
Luft, J. A., Firestone, J. B., Wong, S. S., Ortega, I., Adams, K., & Bang, E. (2011). Beginning
secondary science teacher induction: A two-year mixed methods study. Journal of
Research in Science Teaching, 48(10), 1199-1224. doi: 10.1002/tea.20444
Monk, D. H. (1994). Subject area preparation of secondary mathematics and science teachers
and student achievement. Economics of Education Review, 13(2), 125-145.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). (2015). Science
teachers learning: Enhancing opportunities, creating supportive contexts. Washington,
DC: The National Academies Press.
National Commission on Teacher Education and Professional Standards (NCTEPS). (1965). The
assignment and misassignment of American teachers: The complete report of the Special
Committee on the Assignment of Teachers of the National Commission on Teacher
Education and Professional Standards. Washington, DC: National Education
Association.
National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF). (1996). What matters most:
Teaching for America's future. New York, NY: Author.
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2010). The all-purpose science teacher: An analysis of
loopholes in state requirements for high school science teachers. Washington, DC:
National Council on Teacher Quality.
National Research Council (NRC). (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices,
crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
National Research Council (NRC). (2013). Monitoring progress toward successful K-12 STEM
education: A nation advancing? Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
37
Nixon, R. S., & Luft, J. A. (2015). Teaching chemistry with a biology degree: Crosscutting
concepts as boundary objects. In J. A. Luft & S. L. Dubois (Eds.), Newly hired teachers
of science: A better beginning (pp. 75-85). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense
Publishers.
Nordine, J. (Ed.). (2016). Teaching energy across the sciences K-12. Arlington, VA: NSTA
Press.
Olitsky, S. (2006). Facilitating identity formation, group membership, and learning in science
classrooms: What can be learned from out-of-field teaching in an urban school? Science
Education, 91(2), 201-221. doi: 10.1002/sce.20182
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2004). The quality of the
teaching workforce OECD Observer. Paris, France: Author.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2005). Teachers matter:
Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers. Paris, France: Author.
Patterson, N. C., Roehrig, G. H., & Luft, J. A. (2003). Running the treadmill: Explorations of
beginning high school science teacher turnover in Arizona. The High School Journal,
86(4), 14-22. doi: 10.2307/40364320
Ringstaff, C., & Sandholtz, J. H. (2002). Out-of-field assignments: Case studies of two beginning
teachers. Teachers College Record, 104(4), 812-841.
Robertson, W. C. (2002). Energy. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.
Robinson, V. (1985). Making do in the classroom: A report on the misassignment of teachers.
Washington, DC: American Federation of Teachers, Council for Basic Education.
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
38
Rolls, S., & Plauborg, H. (2009). Teachers’ career trajectories: An examination of research. In
M. Bayer, U. Brinkkjær, H. Plauborg & S. Rolls (Eds.), Teachers' career trajectories and
work lives (pp. 9-28). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.
Rushton, G. T., Ray, H. E., Criswell, B. A., Polizzi, S. J., Bearss, C. J., Levelsmier, N., . . .
Kirchhoff, M. (2014). Stemming the diffusion of responsibility: A longitudinal case study
of America's chemistry teachers. Educational Researcher, 43(8), 390-403. doi:
10.3102/0013189x14556341
Samson, J. F., & Collins, B. A. (2012). Preparing all teachers to meet the needs of English
language learners: Applying research to policy and practice for teacher effectiveness.
Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.
Sanders, L. R., Borko, H., & Lockard, J. D. (1993). Secondary science teachers' knowledge base
when teaching science courses in and out of their area of certification. Journal of
Research in Science Teaching, 30(7), 723-736. doi: 10.1002/tea.3660300710
Sawchuk, S. (2016). ESSA loosens reins on teacher evaluations, qualifications. Education Week,
35(15), 14-15.
Schwab, J. J. (1964). Structure of the disciplines: Meanings and significances. In G. W. Ford &
L. Pugno (Eds.), The structure of knowledge and the curriculum (pp. 6-30). Chicago, IL:
Rand McNally.
Seastrom, M. M., Gruber, K. J., Henke, R., McGrath, D. J., & Cohen, B. A. (2004).
Qualifications of the public school teacher workforce: Prevalence of out-of-field teaching
1987-88 to 1999-2000 (Revised): National Center for Education Statistics.
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
39
Sharplin, E. D. (2014). Reconceptualising out-of-field teaching: Experiences of rural teachers in
Western Australia. Educational Research, 56(1), 97-110. doi:
10.1080/00131881.2013.874160
Soares, A., Lock, R., & Foster, J. (2008). Induction: The experiences of newly qualified science
teachers. Journal of Education for Teaching, 34(3), 191-206.
Steyn, G. M., & du Plessis, A. E. (2007). The implications of the out-of-field phenomenon for
effective teaching, quality education and school management. Africa Education Review,
4(2), 144-158. doi: 10.1080/18146620701652754
The Royal Society. (2007). The UK’s science and mathematics teaching workforce: A 'state of
the nation' report. London, England: Author.
U.S. Department of Education (US DOE). (2002). No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Pub. L. No.
107-110, 115 Stat. 1425. Washington, DC: Author Retrieved from
www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/index.html.
U.S. Department of Education (US DOE). (2004). Fact sheet: New No Child Left Behind
flexibility: Highly qualified teachers. Washington, DC: Author Retrieved from
http://www2.ed.gov/nclb/methods/teachers/hqtflexibility.html.
U.S. Department of Education (US DOE). (2006). Rural education in America: Definitions, from
nces.ed.gov/surveys/ruraled/
U.S. Department of Education (US DOE). (2011). A summary of highly qualified teacher data
for school year 2009-10. Washington, DC: Author.
U.S. Department of Education (US DOE). (2015). Every student succeeds act. Washington, DC:
Author Retrieved from https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-
bill/1177/text.
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
40
Veal, W. R., & Kubasko, D. S., Jr. (2003). Biology and geology teachers' domain-specific
pedagogical content knowledge of evolution. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision,
18(4), 334-352.
Veenman, S. (1984). Perceived problems of beginning teachers. Review of Educational
Research, 54(2), 143-178. doi: 10.3102/00346543054002143
Watters, J. J., & Diezmann, C. M. (2015). Challenges confronting career-changing beginning
teachers: A qualitative study of professional scientists becoming science teachers.
Journal of Science Teacher Education, 26(2), 163-192. doi: 10.1007/s10972-014-9413-0
Willett, M., Segal, D., & Walford, W. (2014). National teaching workforce dataset data analysis
report 2014. Canberra, Australia: Commonwealth of Australia Department of Education.
Zhou, Y. (2014). The relationship between school organizational characteristics and reliance on
out-of-field teachers in mathematics and science: Cross-national evidence from TALIS
2008. Asia Pacific Journal of Education Researcher, 23(3), 482-497.
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
41
Table 1
Demographics of Participants (n = 137)
Gender
Female
Male
Age
22-25
26-30
31-40
41-59
Not reported
Certification pathway
Undergraduate
Post-baccalaureate
Master’s
Other
No certificate
Degree subject
Earth science
Life sciences
Physical sciences
Other science
Engineering
Non-science
Induction program
E-mentoring
General
Internship
Science specific
Note: Some non-science degree subjects include business information systems, educational
leadership, and sociology.
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
42
Table 2
School Characteristics
School level
Middle school
High school
Other level
School location
Rural
Suburban
Urban
Note: These data are reported for each teachers yearly assignment. This means that an
individual school’s data are reported multiple times when a teacher was assigned to teach at the
same school for multiple years.
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
43
Table 3
Response Rate for Each Year
Participants
% of Total
YR1
128
93
YR2
108
79
YR3
91
66
YR5
74
54
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
44
Table 4
Prevalence of Teaching Assignments Across Five Years
OOF SCORE
Assignments
(n = 401)
Percent of
Total
All in field
143
35.7
Mostly in field
62
15.5
Half and half
27
6.7
Mostly OOF
82
20.4
All OOF
87
21.7
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
45
Table 5
Transitions from Year X to Year Y as Percentage of Total Transitions (n = 180)
Year Y Teaching Assignment
Year X teaching
assignment
All in
field
Mostly in
field
Half and
half
Mostly
OOF
All OOF
All in field
21
5
3
9
7
Mostly in field
4
2
0
4
2
Half and half
3
2
0
1
1
Mostly OOF
10
2
1
3
4
All OOF
8
3
0
2
3
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
46
Table 6
Ordinal Logistic Regression Analysis for OOF SCORE on YR
Coefficient
St. err.
p-value
YR2 (YR1)
-0.2962
0.2367
0.21
YR3 (YR1)
-0.1274
0.2440
0.60
YR5 (YR1)
-0.1633
0.2625
0.53
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
47
Table 7
Ordinal Logistic Regression Analysis for OOF SCORE on Other Factors
Coefficient
St. err.
p-value
Percent ELL
0.0137
0.0076
0.035*
Middle school
baseline
High school
-0.7212
0.2344
0.002*
Other level
-0.0407
0.4029
0.705
Urban
baseline
Rural
-0.5717
0.3012
0.06
Suburban
-1.2131
0.2499
<0.001*
Teaching certificate
baseline
No certificate
-2.5173
0.6826
<0.001*
*Significantly different from baseline (p < 0.05)
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
48
a.
b.
Figure 1. (a) Percentage of ELL students and (b) number of students at schools where
participants were employed. These data are reported for each teachers yearly assignment. This
means that an individual school’s data are reported multiple times when a teacher was assigned
to teach at the same school for multiple years.
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
49
Figure 2. Percentage of teachers with each teaching assignment across years.
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%
40%
45%
All in field Mostly in field Half and half Mostly OOF All OOF
Percentage of Teachers
Teaching Assignment
YR1 YR2 YR3 YR5
OUT-OF-FIELD TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS
50
Figure 3. Cut points for ordinal logistic regression model of OOF SCORE on other factors. The
standard error for all coefficients is between 0.23 and 0.25.
i
In this study three different designations of teacher qualifications must be distinguished. The
first designation is whether a teacher is in field or OOF. For this study, as in many recent
publications, OOF teaching is considered to be teaching a subject for which one has not earned a
major/minor. We are specific to the science disciplines (Ingersoll, 1999), as subject matter
knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge are discipline specific (Berry, Friedrichsen, &
Loughran, 2015 2015; Veal & Kubasko, 2003). The second designation is whether a teacher is
highly qualified, a US federal government classification that comes from No Child Left Behind
legislation. In order to be highly qualified, new teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree,
pass a subject area test, and complete a significant amount of coursework in the discipline they
teach (US DOE, 2002). This was originally specific to the science discipline, but the law was
loosened over time to allow teachers to become highly qualified in all science disciplines without
having demonstrated adequate knowledge in each science discipline (NCTQ, 2010; US DOE,
2004). The third designation is whether a teacher has earned a teaching certification, also called
teacher licensure in some states. One becomes a certified teacher by meeting the state’s
requirements, which often include stipulations about completing college or university
coursework and passing a state certification test. Certification typically requires a teacher
preparation coursework component, although which courses and when those courses are
completed can differ (i.e., before or after hire as a teacher). The discipline specificity of a
teaching certificate varies from state to state.
There is significant overlap among these three designations. The relevant difference for
this study is in what these designations indicate about a new teachers preparation. Teacher
certification indicates that a teacher has completed some type of teacher preparation program.
Specific requirements vary so significantly from state to state that it is unclear what else is
indicated by this designation. Highly qualified status indicates that teachers have some level of
competence with the subject area they teach. However, this designation is unclear since it is not
specific to the various science disciplines. OOF teaching, a term commonly used in the research
literature, indicates that the participant has not successfully completed a major/minor in a subject
area, constituting significant coursework in that specific science discipline.
We have thus chosen to focus primarily on the OOF teaching designation. However, in
this manuscript we discuss the prevalence of OOF teaching in a time when all teachers are
required to be, and the vast majority have been reported to be (US DOE, 2011), highly qualified.
We also discuss how teacher certification is associated with the incidence of OOF teaching.
... Because of the inadequate cognitive skills and exposure to the subject, out-of-field teachers feel ineffective and inefficient, especially in lesson delivery [26,27]. Hence, out-of-field teachers are expected to learn, study, and understand the content of the subject as well as the structure of the lesson, which are necessary for the effective delivery of instruction [28,29]. ...
... They admit that their learning styles, strategies, professional skills, and learning abilities were challenged because of the newness of the subject [2]. However, with years of exposure to the subject and the extra efforts they made to teach quality education to learners, they were able to cope with it, develop effective teaching strategies, and embrace pedagogical knowledge in teaching across the discipline [29]. ...
... This influenced the self-esteem of teachers because they felt that the lack of cognitive skills made them ineffective and inefficient teachers [26,27]. Thus, out-of-field teachers addressed this challenge by spending their time studying, learning, and researching the subject matter [28][29][30]. ...
Article
Out-of-Field Teaching (OFT) has become one of the common concerns of different educational institutions in the global arena. Its prevalence worldwide has become a major issue because of its impact on the quality of education and the efficacy of teachers. Due to the shortage of specialized teachers in the field, school heads opted to hire out-of-field teachers to teach English subjects which creates a detrimental effect on professional growth, teachers’ performance, and the well-being of teachers. Thus, this qualitative phenomenological paper explored the lived experiences of out-of-field teachers teaching English in public schools. The data were gathered from the six (6) participants who were chosen using a purposeful sampling technique and determined using the following inclusion criteria: non-English major, public secondary school teacher, and have at least two (2) years of experience in teaching English. The data were collected utilizing the in-depth unstructured interview. Employing a thematic analysis, the findings revealed the challenges encountered by the participants, and how they were able to endure and embrace all of them. Moreover, the findings highlighted the adaptability and resiliency of the participants as essential factors in overcoming the demands of the phenomenon. Thus, the findings imply how the lived experiences of the participants molded them to become a better version of themselves.
... Sickel and Friedrichsen (2018) found that specific coursework was important in helping beginning teachers develop their PCK related to evolution. Unfortunately, NHTS are not always able to teach in their area of specialization (Ingersoll, 2019;Nixon et al., 2017), which may hinder their PCK development. ...
... In terms of a location, when NHTS do not have an assigned classroom, they are forced to move themselves and their materials from room to room (Dubois & Luft, 2014), which can contribute to or constrain the professional learning of teachers. In terms of teaching assignments, NHTS often teach classes outside of their expertise (Nixon et al., 2017;Sanders et al., 1993). Nixon et al. found that over 60% of NHTS taught at least one course that was out of field. ...
... Among their many different duties, administrators often assign new teachers to the courses that they will teach. Science teachers in the US are frequently assigned to teach in areas outside of their expertise (Nixon et al., 2017). In this study, when teachers had similar course assignments in one area over time, they had an opportunity to build their instructional skills (PCK&S) continually. ...
Article
The early years of teaching are important for science teachers, but little is known about how science teachers develop professionally in their early years. This mixed methods study took a longitudinal view of the early years of teaching. Following 95 secondary science teachers over a 5‐year period, this study examined the beliefs, pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), and practices of the teachers during and after their induction programming. It drew upon the conceptual framework of opportunities to learn to contemplate the experiences of the teachers in relationship to their beliefs, PCK, and practices. Interviews and observations comprised the data in the study, which were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively and then integrated to understand the teachers' development. The quantitative analysis revealed that the early career teachers experienced no significant change in their beliefs over time but did experience significant change in their PCK and in some of their instructional practices. The qualitative analysis highlighted the difficulty in changing the instruction of the teachers, administrative decisions that constrained or contributed to the learning of the new teachers, and the different professional learning opportunities new teachers drew upon over time. These results suggest that early professional development experiences provided some support for the newly hired teachers, but not enough to challenge their beliefs or establish the instructional repertoires envisioned in the science education reforms. To better support the development of early career science teachers, they need strategic learning opportunities over time that involve administrators, colleagues, and science teacher educators.
... NCLB requirements were modified in 2006, allowing science teachers to be certified in a specific discipline or under a broad-field or general science certification (U. S. Department of Education, 2004), although preparation to teach one science discipline may not translate to adequate subject knowledge matter and pedagogical content knowledge in another science discipline (Nixon et al., 2017). A notable study in Nebraska found that during an eight-year period, 901 science teacher certifications were issued with only 3.3% being single subject Earth and space science certifications (Lewis & Lu, 2017). ...
... Novice secondary school science teachers face many challenges in teaching during this time as they transition from teacher preparation programs to teaching in a classroom (Davis et al., 2006;Luft et al., 2015). A recent study found that 64% of new secondary science teachers were teaching at least one out-of-field course (Nixon et al., 2017). Assigning novice teachers courses in which they are out-of-field further contributes to the teacher shortage since these experiences may lead them to exit the profession (Ingersoll & Curran, 2004;Krakehl et al., 2020;Palermo et al., 2021aPalermo et al., , 2021b. ...
Article
Student performance in high school Earth Science coursework often depends upon access to high quality teaching and resources. This study employed a non-experimental correlational research design to explore teacher-level and school-level variables and their relationship to students’ Earth Science performance. The theoretical framework is derived from studies that suggest both teacher and organizational characteristics influence students’ academic outcomes. Statewide census data were collected from a sample of Earth Science teachers (N = 2457) and Earth Science students (N = 153,749) in New York State during the 2016–2017 academic year. Teacher-level variables included certification status, professional age, course load in Earth science, and teacher isolation; while the school-level variables included Earth Science performance, test-taking percentage, socioeconomic status, locale, ethnicity, and English language proficiency. Results indicated that nearly a quarter of Earth Science teachers were teaching out-of-field, with a higher incidence in urban schools, where nearly half of all Earth Science teachers were not certified in the subject. A multivariable regression model with a subset of isolated Earth Science teachers (n = 528) indicated student performance was predicted by socioeconomic status, ethnicity, English language proficiency, and the prevalence of Earth Science participation in the school. These findings have implications for policy makers to institute reforms in teacher education and precollege Earth Science instruction, particularly in educational contexts that serve historically marginalized students, with the aim of promoting equity in diverse educational contexts. Recommendations include increasing precollege Earth Science access in the United States, improving pedagogical knowledge, and enhancing the teaching of Earth Science through informal settings.
... For example, physical educators might be tasked with teaching classroom-based health, sometimes despite not having been explicitly trained in teaching the subject area. Although there is a current lack of literature exploring out-of-field teaching of qualified physical education teachers in the United States, research in science and mathematics education suggests that the trend of teachers teaching out of subject in the United States has continued to increase (Nixon et al., 2017) due to teacher shortages (Ingersoll & Curran, 2004) and influenced by school location and socioeconomic status. Schools with high percentages of students living in poverty (Ingersoll, 2008) and rural and urban schools have higher reports of teaching multiple school subjects, including out-of-field subjects, than suburban schools (Nixon et al., 2017). ...
... Although there is a current lack of literature exploring out-of-field teaching of qualified physical education teachers in the United States, research in science and mathematics education suggests that the trend of teachers teaching out of subject in the United States has continued to increase (Nixon et al., 2017) due to teacher shortages (Ingersoll & Curran, 2004) and influenced by school location and socioeconomic status. Schools with high percentages of students living in poverty (Ingersoll, 2008) and rural and urban schools have higher reports of teaching multiple school subjects, including out-of-field subjects, than suburban schools (Nixon et al., 2017). ...
Article
Emerging research suggests that the stress and complexities of the teaching profession contribute to early exits from the field. Stressors may be increased when individuals are tasked with teaching physical education and another school subject(s) concurrently. More specifically, role conflict in teaching multiple school subjects consists of three subdomains: status conflict, schedule conflict, and energy expenditure. The purpose of this paper is to propose a theoretically informed conceptual model of this type of conflict that better informs the professional lives and careers of teachers. The framework’s three interrelated elements are dynamic and contextually bound and influence the experience of multiple subjects role conflict. These three elements include experiences of role conflict, contextual and individual factors, and an outer limit of individuals’ capacity to manage stressors. Three vignettes are used to illustrate how teachers’ experiences of conflict interact with contextual and individual factors to increase or decrease their capacity for stress.
... This dependence increases when novice teachers teach in different areas they were trained in (Bullough & Knowles, 1990). Convergently, Nixon et al., (2017) show that novice teachers have greater autonomy and confidence in teaching the content they are trained in and rely less on textbooks. ...
Article
The teacher attrition at the beginning of the teaching career has aggravated the shortage of teachers in some countries. We carried out a case study of a novice physics teacher working in two Brazilian schools. Based on the Cultural-Historical Activity Theory, we analyzed the contradictions that emerged and how they transformed his teaching activity. The analysis indicates that the central contradiction, which emerged from how the capitalist modes of educational work are structured, determined an increasing teacher's work alienation, reinforcing his fear of losing his job.
... Several research studies identifi ed the shortage of science teachers as a reason for alternative pathways to science teaching ( Diekman & Benson-Greenwald, 2018 ;Ingersoll & Perda, 2010;Nixon et al., 2017 ;Shwartz & Dori, 2020). Shortages were due, for example, to the increasing number of students that arose as developing countries like Africa opened up secondary education to more students ( Chudgar et al., 2014 ;UNESCO, 2016 ), or to the fact that individuals with science degrees often had career paths more appealing than teaching ( Avargil et al., 2020 ). ...
Chapter
This chapter discusses the research on the preparation of teachers via alternative educational preparation programs that have expanded in various countries around the globe. The pathways through the alternative teaching programs that lead to certification or licensure are as varied as traditional preparation programs. This synthesis examines the similarities and differences in the reasons that these programs arose, the difference in the designs and components of these programs, and how the effectiveness of these programs is measured. For some researchers, effectiveness was based on teacher retention, while others attempted to analyze student achievement. The chapter concludes by considering the limitations of these studies and suggestions for future research.
... On the other hand, Rumberger believes that a qualified teacher has, in addition to a diploma, the requisite abilities distinguishing him or her as a good teacher, and who continuously undergoes teaching training [25]. Unlike teachers with adequate knowledge in physics who are able to prepare and implement instructional activities to achieve learning outcomes at a higher cognitive level, thus increasing a student's chances of success and academic achievement [38,50,51], unprofessional teachers facilitate the adoption of learning outcomes by heavily utilizing memory and textbooks [52]. While Rumberger's definition of a qualified teacher is beneficial in assessing the shortage in physics teachers, as it allows a more detailed analysis of teacher expertise, it is problematic because no existing evidence has been able to measure teacher shortages in this way [25]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The shortage of physics teachers is a global and persistent problem, resulting in the employment of nonprofessionals who cannot teach physics in a student-centered, high-quality and effective manner. This situation has implications for the educational policies of governments, universities, and schools. The aim of this study is to identify whether there is a shortage of elementary school physics teachers in Croatia. This type of survey was conducted for the first time in the country. Based on the online survey, we asked elementary school principals how many employees they have working as physics teachers in their schools and the type of education of these teachers. A total of 260 principals responded to the survey, representing 25% of the total population of elementary school principals in Croatia, where physics is taught according to the regular program in the 2020/2021 school year. The respondents did not mention the availability of physics teacher vacancies in their schools. However, they mentioned the engagement of nonprofessional substitute physics teachers accounting for 14% of all physics teaching positions in schools that participated in our study. Among the nonprofessional substitutes, most were from the social-humanities field. Differences in the representation of nonprofessional physics teachers by county were also found, indicating different causes of physics teacher shortages in different geographic areas. The survey results provide a basis for future policy decisions that can lead to better results in resolving the issue of physics teacher shortages in Croatia and beyond.
Article
This study uses state‐level staffing data to analyze the five‐year career trajectories of all 231 first‐year secondary science teachers in New Jersey who began teaching during the 2010‐2011 school year. The person‐position framework for studying teacher retention is introduced in this analysis, and the authors present a case for the importance of specifying both location and duration in empirical reporting on teacher retention, as well as distinguishing between the employers’ and individual teachers’ perspectives on retention. In the cohort studied here, the 5‐year retention‐by‐employer rate was 38%, but the retention‐in‐profession rate for those actively teaching was 65%. An additional 24% of science teachers changed districts during or immediately after their first year, and were retained in their second districts for four or more years. 16% of the science teachers in the cohort identified as non‐White or Hispanic and these teachers were retained at similar rates to their White/non‐Hispanic counterparts. Alternate route preparation programs attracted many more secondary science teachers who identified as non‐White or Hispanic, but teachers from these programs had a far lower 5‐year retained‐in‐profession rate (45%) than non‐White or Hispanic traditional route teachers (75%). It was more common for science teachers in higher SES districts to transfer to lower SES districts than the reverse. The position turnover rate for science teachers was slightly lower in higher SES districts. As a category, charter schools had the lowest 5‐year science teacher retention rate (13%). There was no identifiable relationship between the age, sex, subject area certification, or starting salary of science teachers and the measures of retention used in this study. The authors discuss the characterization of retention itself in research, including the use of descriptors related to retention. Implications relating to science teacher education policy are discussed, as is the future use of state‐level data systems in retention research.
Chapter
The study investigated the prevalence of out-of-field teaching among newly qualified teachers (NQTs) during their induction year in Israeli schools. It compared the extent of support in-field teachers, partially out-of-field teachers and entirely out-of-field teachers perceived they received from different school parties, their satisfaction with the induction and their attrition rates in the year following the induction. The study also explored the differences between subject and year-level out-of-field teachers. Participants included 2,710 NQTs who were in their induction year in 2016–2018. Findings revealed that despite strict MoE regulations, a third of the NQTs were assigned to teach out of their field. Both entirely and partially out-of-field teachers were less satisfied with the induction year and reported a lower sense of support. A significantly higher percentage of them quit teaching after the induction year. Both subject and year-level out-of-field teaching came up as detrimental, but they were at their worst when they occurred together.KeywordsBeginning teachersMentoringOut-of-field teachingTeacher induction programsTeacher retention
Article
Full-text available
Following several authors, we point out the importance of relations in the conceptual frame of chemistry. We propose that an important characteristic of chemistry is given by the epistemological challenge associated with selectively related entities. We also suggest that internal relation ontologies have been seen by chemists as better suited for assessing this challenge, and that this ontological perspective has played an important role in shaping chemical concepts.
Article
New reforms in science education emphasize facilitating all students’ sense making of the big ideas and crosscutting concepts in science along with engagement in science practices. Supporting this learning requires complex, ambitious teaching that is uncommon in U.S. classrooms. Thus, novice teachers will need considerable support in learning how to plan and enact ambitious science instruction. A practice-based approach to teacher education shows potential for supporting beginning teachers while they are learning to use the tools and teaching practices necessary to engage students in the practices of scientists. This study investigates how a cohort of 22 novice teachers (called “interns” in this article) within a practice-based science methods course planned to facilitate investigation-based science discussions that capitalized on student contributions. Findings indicate that interns used a range of teaching practices that the literature suggests are productive for capitalizing on student contributions. Looking closely at interviews with and lesson plans of 6 focal interns, we find that tools provided by teacher-educators likely supported interns in planning to engage in productive teaching practice with sophistication and may have fostered the development of knowledge for science teaching. For example, the use of open-ended questions from a talk moves tool provided by teacher-educators supported interns in planning to probe student thinking and engaging their students in scientific discourse, potentially leading to the development of knowledge of content and students. This study has implications for novice teachers learning to facilitate investigation-based discussions and teacher-educator programs aiming to support the development of both knowledge and practice for science teaching.
Book
The working and career lives of teachers have changed radically over the last two decades. Reforms have turned education into a commodity and pupils into ‘consumers’. Yet not since 1992 has there been a comprehensive overview of research findings on teachers’ working lives. This anthology plugs the gap by collecting various scholarly contributions and perspectives on teachers’ career trajectories and work lives. The material includes an introduction to previous research within the field, presents a range of contemporary research and offers suggestions as to what lies ahead. Among the contributors are leading educational academics who describe a variety of national contexts, illustrating how problems and challenges relating to the teaching profession manifest themselves and are tackled in different countries. The anthology also shows just how many aspects of teachers’ career trajectories and work lives transcend national boundaries. Common international themes include stronger ties between education and the economy, and a growing importance placed on how students’ skills relate to the perceived needs of the labour market. There is also a greater degree of political interference in curriculum goals and processes, and an expanding obsession with evaluation. In many countries, a whole generation of teachers are reaching retirement age, ‘changing the guard’ with a crop of new young recruits who are ever harder to attract. At a time when there is an increasing focus on issues such as teacher recruitment, retention and professional development, this anthology offers insight and inspiration to teacher educators and educational policy makers as well as to current and prospective teachers. It also aims at encouraging research into the field of teachers’ working lives.
Article
Has the elementary and secondary teaching force changed in recent years? And, if so, how? Have the types and kinds of individuals going into teaching changed? Have the demographic characteristics of those working in classrooms altered? To answer these questions we embarked on an exploratory research project to try to discover what trends and changes have, or have not, occurred in the teaching force over the past few decades. We were surprised by what we found. We discovered that the teaching force has been, and is, greatly changing; yet, even the most dramatic trends appear to have been little noticed by researchers, policy makers, and the public.
Chapter
The prevalence of out-of-field teaching—when a teacher is assigned a subject in which he or she is not prepared—has sparked concern around the world. Studies across many nations have shown that high percentages of teachers are assigned to teach out-of-field (Du Plessis, 2005; Ingersoll, 2008; Ríordáin & Hannigan, 2011; Tasmanian Audit Office, 2010).
Chapter
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013) puts forth an ambitious vision for K–12 science instruction. The success of the NGSS will be judged in large part by how they are implemented in classrooms. Yet the ability of teachers to implement the NGSS successfully depends on a large number of factors including the development of new instructional and assessment materials, rethinking and revising preservice programs for prospective science teachers, and providing ongoing and in-depth professional development for inservice teachers.