Date of Award

Fall 1-10-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Joseph Feinberg

Second Advisor

Dr. Joyce Many

Third Advisor

Dr. Philo Hutcheson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Chara Bohan




Russell Brett Hardin

Almost 30 percent of new teachers flee the profession after just three years, and more than 40 percent leave after 5 years (Allen, 2005). Studies conducted by Borman and Dowling (2008), Guarino et al. (2006) and Ingersoll and Smith (2003) indicate that teacher attrition rates are also high in the later years of teaching careers. While these rates of attrition reflect both public and private school teachers, numerous studies have found that private schools see higher attrition rates, potentially damaging an independent school’s ability to fulfill its stated mission (Ingersoll, 2002; O’Keefe, 2001; Provasnik & Dorfman, 2005). While research exists about teacher attrition and retention issues in the early years (Borman & Dowling, 2008), limited research exists about the factors that impact retention of veteran teachers. The purpose of this study is to examine a specific school context in which many successful, veteran, social studies teachers have remained in the same school setting while teaching the same age groups and to determine why those teachers have returned to their classrooms each year. The focus of this study is: What are the factors that keep veteran social studies teachers engaged and excited about teaching and learning?

To examine why veteran teachers have stayed in a specific school context teaching the same age groups, I used interviews, informal conversations, and document analysis to build narratives that reflect on the career paths of six teachers. Each of the six teachers who participated in this study taught at the same institution for over 15 years and has at least 20 years as a full-time instructor in the classroom. The qualitative research methodology of grounded theory provided the most appropriate guidelines and tools to examine this group of veteran teachers. The results of this study indicate that to retain veteran teachers, schools may want to consider providing teachers with substantial autonomy over curricula and actively support teachers in discerning and pursuing their own goals for professional development. Schools that are able to build a learning rich environment for their veteran teachers may be more likely to retain an engaged and successful faculty.