Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum & Instruction

First Advisor

Dr. Karin Lewis

Second Advisor

Dr. Laura Jewett

Third Advisor

Dr. Bobbette M. Morgan


There is a shortage of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) teachers in the US (Aragon, 2016; National Science Board, 2003). Hispanics are underrepresented in STEM teaching (Aragon, 2016; Texas Education Agency, 2017; US Census Bureau, 2016b; US Department of Education, n.d.). In order to improve the state of STEM teaching in the US we must tap into this underrepresented group. This exploratory case study examined the experiences of Hispanic students pursing STEM teacher preparation and how the UTeachRGV program impacts student persistence and retention.

UTeachRGV is a STEM teacher preparation program at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) located in the southernmost region of Texas with a Hispanic population in the region that exceeds 90% (US Census Bureau, 2016b; UTRGV, 2016). UTRGV is designated a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) with a Hispanic student population that exceeds 89% and has a goal of serving these students as part of its vision (UTRGV, n.d; UTRGV, 2016).

Sources of data included document analysis, an email questionnaire, focus groups, semi-structured interviews, and on-going field notes. All data were analyzed thematically within and across multiple data sources by searching for themes and subthemes. The major, overarching themes that emerged were support and shared experiences. Students benefitted from the support of Master Teachers, their UTeach family, and financial support. Students shared experiences in the program such as how they were recruited, why they stayed, the value of field experiences, and the supportive features of their HSI.

Findings from the study indicate that Hispanic STEM students pursuing STEM teacher preparation within the context of UTeach experience systems of support and share experiences that contribute to their retention in the program. Findings suggest other STEM teacher preparation programs include incorporating multiple systems of support with mandatory advising checkpoints, faculty or other mentors, and financial support.


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