Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Yoko Miura, Ed.D. (Committee Chair); Colleen Saxen, Ed.D. (Committee Member); Amber Todd, Ph.D. (Committee Member); Adrienne Traxler, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


The lived experiences of female high school physics teachers were researched in this study with the aim of gaining a better understanding of their decisions to remain in the classroom or to leave the teaching profession. To allow the participants to describe their background and teaching experiences, as well as the meaning they found in them, a transcendental phenomenological approach was used during this research. To create a richer representation of the phenomenon, fourteen women ranging from 0-31 years of experience teaching high school physics were interviewed for this study. The data from the interviews was analyzed through the lens of Vroom’s (1964) Expectancy Theory and Hazari et al.’s (2010) Physics Identity model, which formed the theoretical framework for this research. An iterative analysis of the data resulted in the three major themes of self-efficacy, values, and support. Self-efficacy, the most significant theme, was a result of the confidence the women earned from overcoming obstacles and conquering their initial feelings of inadequacy. Values, the second most significant theme, was characterized by the value women placed on relationships with their students. Other values important to the participants included their students’ growth as well as maintaining a work-life balance for themselves. Support, the third most significant theme, centered on support from mentors during high school, college, and student teaching. Also important was the support provided by colleagues and school organizations. Implications of this study include informing female high school physics teachers about the necessity of maintaining a growth mindset, honoring their personal values, and supporting each other. Implications for high school leaders include the importance of implementing practices such as providing common planning periods, establishing mentorship programs, and thoughtfully considering the schedules and responsibilities of first year teachers. Implications for school district leaders include the value of creating content specific professional learning communities (PLCs) for physics teachers and providing them with meaningful professional development opportunities. Importantly, this research also provided the women in the study the opportunity to tell the story of their lives in their own words and to reflect upon the meaning they found in their work.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Leadership Studies in Education and Organizations

Year Degree Awarded