Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Elementary teachers committed to actively teaching science and engineering
by Opperman, Julianne Radkowski, Ph.D., University of Southern Maine, 2015, 156; 3722544
Abstract (Summary)

Committed elementary teachers of science and engineering, members of a professional learning community called Collaborative Conversations in STEM, were studied to elicit their perceptions of experiences that influenced their commitment to, and their pedagogical content knowledge of, STEM teaching and learning. The hermeneutic phenomenological interviews enabled the teachers to express their beliefs in their own words. Data analysis employed a theoretical framework that investigated teacher epistemology and knowledge in light of their experiences. Findings revealed a web of lifelong experiences unique to each individual, and evidential of the committed elementary scientist-teachers’ present day values, teaching epistemology, lifelong learning, and emotional and intellectual engagement. Scientist-teachers are individuals whose teaching and learning characteristics reflect those of scientists and engineers.

Evidence indicated that no single transformative learning experience resulted in those elementary teachers’ commitment to STEM teaching and learning, but recent professional development activities were influential. Formal K-16 STEM learning was not uniformly or positively influential to the teachers’ commitment to, or knowledge of, STEM.

Findings suggest that ongoing professional development for STEM teaching and learning can influence elementary teachers to become committed to actively teaching STEM. The Collaborative Conversations in STEM provided intellectual and emotional engagement that empowered the teachers to provide STEM teaching and learning for their students and their colleagues overcoming impediments encountered in a literacy-focused curriculum. Elementary teachers actively committed to teaching science and engineering can undergo further transformation and emerge as leaders.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Fallona, Catherine
Commitee: Latanision, Ronald, Silvernail, David
School: University of Southern Maine
Department: Public Service
School Location: United States -- Maine
Source: DAI-A 77/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education Policy, Elementary education, Science education
Keywords: Educational leadership, Epistemology, Hermeneutic phenomenological, Professional learning communities, Stem education, Teacher commitment
Publication Number: 3722544
ISBN: 9781339047140
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