Current STEM workforce issues and retention problems faced by postsecondary STEM education have renewed research efforts in this arena. A review of literature on STEM professors indicates that although this population reports difficulties integrating teaching and research responsibilities, there have not yet been any qualitative studies conducted to deeply investigate the complexities of managing teaching, research, and service. This work utilized a set of four phenomenological case studies conducted over a 10-month period to address the following research question: How do individuals in a sample of tenure-track science professors prioritize teaching among their other professional roles and responsibilities? Contrary to literature speculation, the results of this study indicate that the participants make decisions about the way they allocate limited time in an unlimited work environment based on their intrinsic, personal career goals and aspirations and appear to be only minimally affected by external pressures to “prioritize research over teaching.” Furthermore, all of the participants in the study indicated that other than research training, they received little to no preparation for their jobs. These findings provide discipline-based education researchers with points of interest for further study and provide professional development stakeholders with data for the design of educational support programs.
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