Elementary teachers past experiences:: a narrative study ... 336436/ آ  ELEMENTARY TEACHERS

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    ELEMENTARY TEACHERS PAST EXPERIENCES: A NARRATIVE STUDY

    OF THE PAST PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL

    EXPERIENCES OF ELEMENTARY TEACHERS

    WHO USE SCIENCE TO TEACH

    MATH AND READING

    A thesis presented

    by

    Andrea M. Acre

    to

    The School of Education

    In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

    Doctor of Education

    in the field

    of

    Education

    College of Professional Studies

    Northeastern University

    February 2014

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    Abstract

    This qualitative study investigated the experiences of four elementary teachers who have

    elected to use science to teach math and reading/language arts in an attempt to identify what

    motivates them to do so. Identifying what experiences have motivated these teachers to go

    against the gain and teach elementary science in this current era of high-stakes tests is of the

    upmost importance given that science is being eliminated from the elementary curriculum and it

    is during the elementary years that students’ nurture and develop their interest in science.

    Additionally, the United States is failing to produce enough college graduates in STEM areas to

    fill the thousands of STEM jobs each year. Through a review of the literature, the past trends

    and current trends of elementary science education were explored as well as teacher training.

    Furthermore, the literature reviewed inquiry teaching which is considered to be the most

    effective teaching method when teaching science at any level. Using John Dewey’s Interest and

    Effort Relationship Theory and the Self-Determination Motivation Theory to guide this study,

    there were five prominent themes which emerged from the reconstructed stories of the four

    teachers: positive experiences with science, neutral/negative experiences with science, seeks

    meaningful professional development, influence and support from others, and regret/wants to do

    more.

    Key terms: elementary science education, elementary science teaching, elementary teachers,

    teachers’ motivation

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    Acknowledgements

    As my formal educational journey draws to a close, it is with great pleasure that I

    acknowledge the many people who have helped me along the way. First, I would like to

    acknowledge the many great teachers that I have been blessed to have had over these past several

    years. I would especially like to acknowledge my second grade teacher Mrs. Anita Kliewer

    whose insistence greatly helped to place me on my current path. I would also like to

    acknowledge my high school math teacher Mr. Dewayne Sinclair who exhibited a great amount

    of patience as he worked for four long years to help me understand math and physics. I would

    not be teaching high school physics today if it was not for his patience with me as a struggling

    math and physics student and his determination to help me understand. Additionally, I would

    like to acknowledge Dr. Cynthia Pfeifer-Hill for not only being a great college professor of mine

    but also for her support and encouragement during a very difficult time in my life. Finally, I

    would like to acknowledge Dr. Steven Maier whose help and support has been a great help to me

    as a high school teacher in the classroom and as a graduate student.

    The second group of people that I would like to acknowledge is my doctoral thesis

    committee. Those who served on my committee were Dr. Atira Charles who served as my

    advisor, Dr. Tova Sanders who served as my second reader, and Dr. Robbie McCarty my

    external examiner. The completion of my doctoral degree would not have been possible without

    the help and guidance of these three women.

    I would like to acknowledge the people of the Elk City United Methodist Church and in

    particular, the women of the English Handbell Choir and the members of the Chancel Choir. I

    have been truly blessed by their love, encouragement, friendship, and prayers during these past

    several years. Additionally, I would like to acknowledge my friends and colleagues Robin and

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    Lena for their continuous support throughout the thesis process. They both knew just when I

    needed a little reminder that the end of the tunnel was near. I would also like to acknowledge

    fellow Northeastern student Stephen Boucher. Although we did not know one another before we

    each began our separate doctoral journeys, we have taken almost every step together as we each

    completed semesters of coursework and entered the doctoral thesis process together. His

    friendship, support and encouragement have been very instrumental throughout the entire thesis

    process.

    The final group of people that I would like to acknowledge is my family. My parents

    Robert and Mary Acre have taught me the value of hard work as well as the value of education.

    My parents have been my support and my guide throughout my educational journey. I know that

    the last thing they thought they would see when they placed me on the school bus for my first

    day of school on that hot August morning in 1982 was that my formal educational journey would

    finally conclude in Boston thirty two years later. I would also like to acknowledge my sisters

    Amy and Emalee, my brother Charlie, and my brother-in-law Corey for all the much needed

    laughs, and finally, my nieces Lizzie and Adelyn. I have been a graduate student since before

    Lizzie and Adelyn were born and I now look forward to being able to spend a lot more time with

    both of them as they continue to grow.

    I would like to dedicate this doctoral thesis to the memory of my grandparents Jim and Joy

    Brandly and Harold Acre and in honor of my grandmother Edith Acre. My grandparents played

    a large role in my childhood and in helping me become who I am today. They have left me with

    many fond memories that I shall forever cherish.

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    Table of Contents

    Abstract …………………………………………………………………………………………...2

    Acknowledgements ……………………………………………………………………………….3

    Table of Contents …………………………………………………………………………………5

    Appendix List ……………………………………………………………………………………..7

    Chapter 1: Introduction …………………………………………………………………………..8

    Problem and Significance ………………………………………………………………...8

    Significance ……………………………………………………………………………...13

    Positionality Statement ………………………………………………………………….15

    Research Question ………………………………………………………………………17

    Theoretical Framework ………………………………………………………………….17

    Research Design ………………………………………………………………………....20

    Data Collection ……………………………………………………………………….…21

    Data Analysis ……………………………………………………………………………23

    Limitations of the Study ………………………………………………………………....24

    Content and Organization of the Thesis ………………………………………………....24

    Chapter 2: Literature Review ……………………………………………………………...……26

    Elementary Science Education …………………………………………………….……26

    Research Question …………………………………………………………………...….27

    Trends ………………………………………………………………………………...…28

    The Value of Teacher Preparation and Support ………………………………………....34

    An Effective Form of Science Teaching ……………………………………………..….37

    Chapter 3: Methodology ……………………………………………………………………..…46

    Overview of Methodology ……………………………………………………………....46

    Research Design …………………………………………………………………………48

    Research Approach ……………………………………………………………………...49

    Participants ………………………………………………………………………………50

    Recruitment and Access ………………………………………………………………....51

    Data Collection ……………………………………………………………………….…52

    Data Storage ……………………………………………………………………………..55

    Data Analysis …………………………………