Case Studies of Tenure-track Science Professors: Exploring the Relationship between Teaching and Research

Open Access
Robert, Jenay Robin
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
December 17, 2015
Committee Members:
  • William Carlsen, Dissertation Advisor
  • Rose Mary Zbiek, Committee Member
  • Gregory John Kelly, Committee Member
  • William O Hancock, Committee Member
  • science education
  • stem faculty
  • higher education
  • professional development
  • research and teaching
Current STEM workforce issues and retention problems faced by postsecondary STEM education have renewed educational research efforts in this arena. A review of literature on STEM professors indicates that although this population reports difficulties integrating teaching and research responsibilities, there have not yet been any qualitative studies conducted to deeply investigate the complexities of the relationship between teaching and research. This study utilized a set of four phenomenological case studies to address the following research questions:  What is the relationship between the teaching and research roles for individuals in a sample of tenure-track science professors at an RU/VH institution?  What types of activities and experiences (particularly professional development) do participants engage in to support their roles as teachers? What types of activities and experiences impede their roles as teachers? In what ways do these activities support or impede participants’ roles as teachers?  What connections can be made between the participants' personal, cultural, and professional histories and the way they are currently experiencing the relationship between teaching and research? The results of this study suggest that science professors might make decisions about the way they allocate limited time in an unlimited work environment based on their intrinsic, personal career goals and desire to help students. Furthermore, all of the participants in the study indicated that other than research training, they received little to no preparation for their jobs. These findings provide the field with points of interest for further study as well as the design of educational support and interventions.