Graduation Date

5-2022

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Education

Program Director

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

First Reader

Katherine Lewis, PhD

Second Reader

Rosemarie Michaels, EdD, MEd

Abstract

The role of Science in education has evolved over the years. Although it is currently considered an important subject, there is a gap in knowledge involving the level at which Science is incorporated in elementary education and how teachers view the subject. Since the introduction of the Next Generation Science Standards, there has been a shift towards creating more equitable learning opportunities that include inquiry based and three-dimensional instruction (Britton, Iveland, Schneider, Tyler, & Valcarcel, 2016). Recent studies show that many teachers struggle to incorporate science standards and concepts and lack confidence in cohesively integrating science into their lessons (Nadelson & Smith, 2017). A study assessing the needs of teachers who were struggling to integrate science found that professional development was the most common recommendation teachers provided (Bressler, Shernoff, & Sinha, 2017).

This study explored the presence of science in elementary classrooms and sought to understand obstacles teachers face in incorporating science as a main subject. The research was conducted through a series of interviews with elementary teachers from three separate schools throughout the Bay Area. These interviews focused on teachers’ history, their current classes, and their overall experiences and opinions regarding science. This study also provides examples in which science is used to create agency and equity while providing real world opportunities for involvement and growth.

Findings show that science is a popular subject amongst students and promotes inquisitive behavior and collaboration. However, due to a lack of time, resources, and prioritization, science instruction is limited in most classrooms. While teachers recognize its significance and enjoy teaching and engaging students with the subject, it remains an inconsistently taught subject (especially after the recent pandemic). It was clear that resources and a lack of support were at the core of the issues preventing science from being a core subject.

IRB Number

11000

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