Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Mary Cramer


The North Dakota Teacher Support System (NDTSS) mentoring program is available to 1st-year teachers employed in the state public schools. Because there has been limited research on the topic, the purpose of this study was to increase the understanding of how participation in the mentoring program affects the experiences and developing effectiveness of 1st-year teachers in rural schools, which is important because teacher retention and recruitment are a concern in rural schools. This study was set within a conceptual framework of andragogy and constructivism and guided by 2 research questions that inquired about the experiences of teaching in a rural school and working with an NDTSS mentor through the 1st year of teaching. This descriptive, embedded, single case study focused on 11 new teachers in rural schools who participated in the NDTSS program. Through constant comparison, 11 interviews, 6 sets of conference logs, and 5 performance rubrics were analyzed for the sample as well as NDTSS survey data completed by 154 new teachers. The results led to 11 themes that revealed each participant had unique experiences working with a mentor. Additionally, working with a mentor provided support to deal with challenges and develop teaching effectiveness, especially when there was a positive relationship between the mentor and new teacher. These findings guided the development of a professional development project for rural NDTSS participants, aimed at providing additional support to new teachers as they work with their mentors to develop their teaching identity and effectiveness. The results of this study contribute to positive social change by increasing the understanding, appreciation, and support of the experiences of 1st-year teachers, especially in rural schools, which holds the potential to strengthen teaching and learning in the state's rural schools.

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