Purdue University Graduate School
Adam H Burtsfield Dissertation Final.pdf (699.82 kB)

Teachers with Longevity in High-Poverty Schools: Factors That Influence Their Retention

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posted on 2021-11-08, 02:49 authored by Adam H BurtsfieldAdam H Burtsfield

The education field is experiencing a shortage of qualified teachers, especially in high-poverty schools. All school districts struggle to find ways to prevent the increasing turnover rates in their schools; however, school districts serving impoverished populations have to deal with the impact of teacher turnover more frequently. This qualitative study focused on the lived experiences of four elementary school teachers with ten or more years of experience in Steele Community Schools, a high-poverty school district. This study focused on factors that have led participants to remain in their teaching positions. Using the framework of Fredrick Herzberg’s two-factor theory, the researcher examined motivation and hygiene factors to determine which factors had the greatest impact in increasing a teacher’s likelihood to remain in the profession; more specifically in high-poverty schools. The results of this study provides an understanding of the factors that impact a teacher’s decision to remain in their position and may serve as a reference for school districts that continue to experience high teacher turnover. Through semi-structured interviews, data were collected from four veteran teachers with ten or more years of experience in their district. This study found that, of Herzberg’s motivation and hygiene factors, coworker relations, salary/benefits, and the work itself had the greatest impact on a teacher’s decision to remain in their teaching position in a high-poverty school. The study also brought to light a element outside of Herzberg’s theory which has had just as great of an impact on teacher retention; the outside community. Based on the findings of this of the qualitative study school district leaders could potentially take a deeper look at factors that have been referenced in this study as having had a positive impact on teachers’ decisions to remain in their positions in a high-poverty school and increase teacher retention.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Educational Studies

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Alice Johnson

Additional Committee Member 2

Marilyn Hirth

Additional Committee Member 3

William McInerney

Additional Committee Member 4

F. Richard Olenchak