A troubling shortage of K-12 Science, Technology, Engineer and Mathematics (STEM) teachers exists in the United States. One solution to increase STEM teachers involves recruiting STEM professionals to transition from industry to K-12 teaching. Research indicates that fostering resilience is one way to help new STEM teachers’ retention and persistence in the field. This study explored individual and programmatic factors that increase early career and early second career K-12 STEM teachers’ resilience. Moreover, this research examined how strategic initiatives and programs assisted STEM professionals to build resilience as they transitioned into K-12 STEM educators.

This study utilized mixed-methods design to examine resilience within early career STEM teachers (ECST) and early second career STEM teachers (ESCST). Ultimately, this study describes quantitative measures with qualitative interview data analysis. Quantitative measures intended to include inferential statistics analysis of survey data, one-way MANOVA, but the limited sample size prevented quantitative analysis with a significant level of confidence. Thus, quantitative analysis was limited to descriptive analysis and provided the means to select qualitative participants. Qualitative interviews employed a phenomenological design to collect and analyze the experiences and perceptions of eight early career and early second career STEM teachers.

The study findings indicate that teachers struggled with classroom management, a work-life balance, and leadership’s lack of student accountability for learning. In contrast, teachers benefited from professional and emotional support, improved their communication skills through teaching, and felt a sense of purpose in their teaching. These findings suggest that programmatic efforts to assist STEM professionals to transition from private industry into K-12 education can increase resilience.

Future research should include quantitative analysis with a significant level of confidence to confirm that ECSTs truly have higher social competency as compared to ESCSTs, and the role of family support for ECSTs and ESCSTs, examining the mechanisms through which social competency enhance teacher resilience, and investigating sense of purpose and motivation to pursue teaching, particularly among ESCST.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Resilience (Personality trait); Teachers--United States; Science study and teaching--United States; Technology study and teaching--United States; Engineering study and teaching--United States; Mathematics study and teaching--United States

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Anthony Collatos