Where Are All of the Asian American Stem Educators?: a Multi-Case Study on Barriers, Motivations, and Recruitment




Le, Tom

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Asian American teachers represent approximately 1.5 percent of the teaching force in the United States, an alarmingly disproportionate representation of the Asian American student population (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 2010). The most rapidly growing population of Asian American students will grow at a rate of 213 percent by the year 2050 according the U.S. Census Bureau (2012). Studies indicate less Asian Americans are entering the teaching profession (Kang, 2009; National Center for Education Statistics, 2015). The purpose of this qualitative multi-case study is to examine why so few Asian Americans go into the teaching profession. This descriptive and exploratory research study identified the positive motivations and negative barriers influencing Asian American STEM students’ decisions in pursuing teaching as a career. Purposive nested sampling was used and survey results were collected in the first phase. From the criterion sample formed, seven highly diverse Asian American college STEM students were chosen by extreme case sampling for the second phase. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and inductive data analysis followed. The emerging themes for motivations included feeling supported in teaching, inspiring role models, desire to make a difference, prior mastery experiences, and high self-efficacy. The themes for barriers included many forms of cultural pressures, low salary and prestige, and teaching was a backup choice. Strategies to support the motivations and to address the barriers, along with recommendations for school leaders were provided in an effort to recruit more Asian American students into teaching.



Asian Americans, STEM teachers, Motivation, Barriers, Strategies, Recruitment