Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Teacher Education

Major Professor

Thomas N. Turner

Committee Members

Kristin T. Rearden, Amy D. Broemmel, Schuyler W. Huck


This descriptive multisite case study details how the beliefs and curricular knowledge of four science teachers in a southeastern school district affected their planning for science instruction.

Through the analysis of interviews, think-aloud planning records for one unit of instruction, and related documentation, categories were identified and connections drawn to how their beliefs and knowledge influenced planning for instruction.

The four teachers in this study jointly expressed certain beliefs about how students best learn science. They expressed beliefs that students best learn science through hands-on activities, through discourse, and by building the student’s knowledge base. The teachers also expressed beliefs about qualities that excellent science teachers should possess. These included that excellent science teachers should: possess personal curiosity, possess well-developed content knowledge, possess the ability to build a strong rapport with students, be flexible, be passionate, possess well-developed knowledge of a variety of pedagogical strategies. Their beliefs about how students learn and qualities teachers should possess often overlapped and intertwined. Qualities of excellent teachers were generalized to reflect all teachers rather than science teachers specifically. Generally, the beliefs these teachers expressed influenced the activities they selected. However, sometimes these beliefs were compromised in response to institutional constraints.

Local and state standards played a significant role for these teachers as they planned for science instruction. Common Core standards also played a role in the planning process of the elementary science teachers as well. The National Science Education Standards (NSES) were not utilized as they planned for science instruction. Some of the participating teachers expressed a belief that their local and state standards were aligned with the NSES. Other factors including time, access to materials, and expectations of administration were influential on the planning process. Finally, recommendations are made for policy makers, professional developers and questions are raised for future research.

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