Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum & Instruction


College of Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Suzanne Horn

Second Advisor

Benjamin Parker

Third Advisor

Nicholas Pritchard


Following a 15-year decline, the United States is experiencing the lowest educator job satisfaction ever recorded amidst a critical teacher shortage. Discussions of how to retain teachers are part of everyday conversations in education. Although much research has been conducted on the many factors influencing job satisfaction, one factor that has yet to be thoroughly studied is teacher adaptability. Everyday challenges such as new curricula, policy changes, and the COVID-19 pandemic require teachers to be adaptable. This study analyzed the results of a teacher survey that examined the elements of professional capital to determine how they affected teacher adaptability and the resulting job satisfaction. The study specifically focused on secondary science teachers who are particularly vulnerable to attrition as they leave the profession earlier, more often, and in greater numbers than nearly all other grade levels or content areas. Results from the researcher-created online survey of over one-hundred teachers across the US revealed that social and decisional capital and administrative support had significant correlations with and were strong predictors of teacher adaptability and subsequent job satisfaction. Teachers reported that having opportunities for collaboration and instructional autonomy made them feel more confident in their abilities and more motivated to remain in the profession. These relationships provide potential ideas for reducing and minimizing teacher attrition, such as providing administrative support, creating opportunities for teacher collaboration, and allowing freedom of instructional autonomy. Building teachers’ social and decisional capital supports a positive adaptive space where teachers grow professional capital and improve their adaptability. With some minor but consequential modifications to our professional practices, our school systems can keep more educators in the classroom, especially our secondary science teachers.