Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Dugas, Daryl D.||Shumow, Lee

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations


Educational psychology; Educational sociology


Teacher turnover is a problem impacting students, schools, and the community. Teacher turnover is highest in urban, high-poverty schools servicing primarily minority students with approximately half of teachers leaving within their first five years. High turnover rates negatively impact students and schools through instructional discontinuity and financial hardships. The factors that are most predictive of a teacher's decision to stay or leave (perceptions of supports, colleague relationships, principal leadership, student discipline, teacher efficacy) are evident in the empirical literature. Less is known about early career teachers' (ECTs') specific interactions and experiences that contribute to their perceptions of these factors. Utilizing a conceptual framework that encompassed aspects of teacher efficacy and the school social context, the author employed a qualitative secondary analysis of semi-structured interview data collected with 14 urban ECTs to further explore, define, and provide clarity to these factors predictive of ECT turnover. The author strived to come to a better understanding regarding how experiences and interactions contributed to teacher efficacy development, strong relationships with colleagues, and an enhanced sense of being supported to be successful. Findings from this study point to the importance of strong, personal relationships with colleagues and administrators as the basis for perceiving supports as being effective. ECTs in this study expressed a desire to work in a positive school culture where they belonged and had trusting relationships with their colleagues. It was informal interactions, versus formal, that had the greatest influence on teachers' perceptions of their colleagues, principals, and the school culture as supportive or unsupportive. Positive collegial relationships not only enhanced personal connections with colleagues but also made formal supports, such as mentorship, more effective. In addition, teachers from this study expressed the importance of having not only their professional but more importantly their personal needs met. Having hands-on, successful teaching experiences and observing other teachers in similar contexts also being successful enhanced efficacy beliefs. Personal experiences, upbringing, and a teacher's identified race served as facilitators or barriers to connecting with students in turn impacting efficacy beliefs. Supports were described as being ineffective when they did not meet the individual needs of the teacher, or the ECT could not personally connect with the person providing support. Furthermore, urban ECTs in this study were looking for more support from their administrators to be responsive to their pleas for help and in supporting when student behavior became disruptive or aggressive. Therefore, a paradigm shift is needed moving beyond providing teachers with supports to ensuring that teachers feel supported.


Advisors: Daryl D. Dugas; Lee Shumow.||Committee members: Lindsay Harris; Elisa Shernoff; Elizabeth Wilkins.||Includes illustrations.||Includes bibliographical references.


207 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type