Student News

Paul Fitchett receives University Impact Award for outstanding research

Paul Fitchett, a fourth-year Ed.D. student in the School’s Curriculum and Instruction program, has been selected to receive a 2008 Graduate Education Advancement Board (GEAB) Impact Award. Fitchett was one of approximately 10 graduate students from UNC-Chapel Hill to be chosen for the award, which recognizes outstanding graduate student research of particular benefit to North Carolina. 

Fitchett’s research project titled “Why do we leave? An examination of social studies educators’ professional intentions” was selected as having exceptional quality and impact. Utilizing data from the Schools and Staffing Survey conducted by the National Center for Educational Statistics, Fitchett sought to determine which professional, school-level and demographic mechanisms contribute to social studies teachers’ attrition and retention levels. 

Following data analysis, results suggest that social studies educators differ from other practitioners in their reasons for remaining or leaving the profession. For example, compared to math and science teachers, salary satisfaction was not as important a determinant of professional intent for social studies teachers. Being male increased the odds of remaining by approximately 32 percent. However, being Black decreased the odds of remaining by 50 percent. Additionally, the study found that social studies teachers in the South are less likely to remain in their profession than social studies teachers in the Northeast, Midwest and West. The results indicate that the teacher retention policy should not follow a one-size-fits-all mentality. Moreover, teacher education programs should focus on the recruitment of minority candidates for their social studies education programs.

Fitchett’s research interests include social studies education, teacher characteristics and immigrant education. He currently serves as the social studies advisor for the School’s M.A.T. program and is seeking faculty teaching positions in secondary social studies education. Fitchett received a bachelor’s degree in history from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1999 and a master’s degree in teaching from the School in 2000.  

The GEAB Impact Award is sponsored by the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School’s Graduate Education Advancement Board.  Students from all of UNC-Chapel Hill's graduate and professional programs are encouraged to apply. Graduates within the last three years also are eligible.  Impact awardees will have the opportunity to showcase their research at the Graduate School’s Annual Student Recognition Celebration in April 2008 in the Carolina Club of the George Watts Hill Alumni Center.