College of Education Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

College of Education, Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Kozoll

Second Advisor

Dr. Judy Bramble

Third Advisor

Dr. Eunmi Lee

Abstract

Using a phenomenological methodology, a cohort of four experienced science teachers was interviewed about their experience transitioning from traditional, teacher and fact-centered science curricula to inquiry-based curricula. Each teacher participated in two interviews that focused on their teaching backgrounds, their experience teaching the prior traditional curriculum, and their experience teaching the new inquiry-based curriculum. The findings are presented as a narrative of each teachers’ experience with the new curriculum implementation. Analyzing the data revealed four key themes. 1) The teachers felt trapped by the old curriculum as it did not align with their positive views of teaching science through inquiry. 2) The teachers found a way to fit their beliefs and values into the old and new curriculum. This required changes to the curriculum. 3) The teachers attempted to make the science curriculum as meaningful as possible for their students. 4) The teachers experienced a balancing act between their beliefs and values and the various aspects of the curriculum. The revealed essence of the curriculum transition is one of freedom and reconciliation of their beliefs. The teachers experienced the implementation of the new curriculum as a way to ensure their values and beliefs of science education were embedded therein. They treated the new curriculum as a malleable structure to impart their grander ideas of science education (e.g. providing important skills for future careers, creating a sense of wonder, future problem solving) to the students. Their changes were aligned with the philosophy of the curriculum kits they were implementing. Thus, the fidelity of the curriculum’s philosophy was not at risk even though the curriculum kits were not taught as written. This study showed that phenomenological methods are able to reveal the relationship between a teacher's prior experiences, values and beliefs and their current instructional philosophy in science education. An analytical diagram was developed based on this relationship and the teachers’ experiences moving from a traditional to a new inquiry curricula. The diagram suggests a transition from feeling trapped in an existing curriculum that is inconsistent with teacher values to finding a fit and balance in a new curriculum that provides a better though not perfect fit. This diagram can serve as a guide for how to design future, ongoing professional development to ensure the success of an inquiry curriculum designed to replace a more traditional one and may be applicable to other teachers.

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