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Journal of Science Teacher Education





The mentoring relationships between preservice teachers and their cooperating teachers have been established as critical to the retention or attrition of novice teachers (Clarke, Triggs, & Nielsen, 2014), yet little research has been conducted to examine what factors around mentor teacher selection and support are most salient to creating strong mentoring structures. In this study, we investigated how four U.S. states (one in the Southwest, one in the Northeast, one in the Midwest, and one in the South) recruit mentor teachers for secondary science preservice teachers, what requirements the mentor teachers must possess, how mentor teachers are incentivized to serve in this role, and whether the use of science standards influences decisions related to preservice teacher placement. Our results show that (a) mentor placements are often found through word-of-mouth versus more formalized systems, (b) there is a wide variety of incentives offered to mentor teachers, (c) there is a common minimum standard for teachers to qualify as mentor teachers, and (d) that science standards, including individual state standards or the Next Generation Science Standards, are central to preservice teacher education programs but are not frequently considered by these same programs when they place a preservice teacher with a mentor teacher. Our findings indicate the need for further research to identify what factors are most salient in strong mentoring relationships and what steps can be taken to support and strengthen the mentoring between preservice teachers and their mentor teachers.


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