Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

How Elementary Teachers' Beliefs About the Nature of Science Mediate Implementing Prescribed Science Curricula in Their Classrooms
by Giglio, Kathleen Rose Fitzgerald, D.Ed., University of Rochester, 2014, 301; 3648962
Abstract (Summary)

This is an in depth study of two elementary school teachers, who are generalists because they teach multiple subjects to their classes, in addition to science, respectively in grade 3 and grade 6. The teachers taught and their students learned using a contemporary understanding of the nature of science (NOS), which they learned by actually doing science investigations, rather than being explicitly told about NOS (contrary to what some scholars claim). Neither teacher completed any formal/informal science training/experiences, especially connected to the construct NOS. Even though the teachers did not explicitly reference NOS in the classroom, their teaching about NOS was made possible through their implementation of the FOSS ( Full Option Science System) curriculum. Although their students enthusiastically demonstrated competence in both science process and content, as prescribed by the FOSS curriculum, the teachers’ felt undermined by the state mandated assessments and the inclusion of student performance as a criterion for the state teacher evaluation system.

This research was designed to answer the following questions: (1) What are elementary teachers’ conceptions about NOS? (2) How are the teachers’ NOS views manifested in their implementation of the FOSS program and their choices of instructional methods/materials? (3) What factors may have enhanced or hindered how the teachers sustained their NOS conceptions as they implemented the FOSS program?

To explicate the relationship between teachers’ views of NOS and the extent to which constructivist practices were employed in their science instruction, a multiple research methodology using grounded theory as the foundation and employing both quantitative and qualitative measures, was needed.

Sources of quantitative data were written survey results using the Student Understanding of Science and Scientific Inquiry Questionnaire (SUSSI; Liang et al., 2008) Likert scale responses and constructed responses. Face validity was determined through correlation of teachers’ NOS conceptions from their written responses with their verbal responses during semi-structured interviews. Sources of qualitative data were coding of field notes (audiotapes of interviews and classroom observations) and artifacts (instructional materials and student work). Following qualitative analysis, data were compared and validated through triagulation, and the results were summarized. The results indicate that teachers may develop contemporary NOS conceptions without explicit instruction and may fortify such perceptions in their students by teaching science using FOSS investigations without explicitly mentioning NOS (also contrary to what some scholars claim). These results have important implications for the successful implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards and future elementary science teacher education programs.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hursh, David
Commitee: Brent, Brian, Choppin, Jeffrey, Luehmann, April
School: University of Rochester
Department: Teaching and Curriculum
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 76/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Elementary education, Science education, Curriculum development
Keywords: Constructivist practice, FOSS, Full option science system, NOS, Nature of science, Scientific inquiry
Publication Number: 3648962
ISBN: 9781321589627
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