Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Dr. Anne McGill-Franzen McGill-Franzen

Committee Members

Dr. Mitsunori Misawa Misawa


Policy makers and textbook publishers have long discussed content integration as a necessary means for kindergarten through grade five teachers to provide generalized instruction that addresses all content standards alongside literacy and math standards. Recently, the state of Tennessee published new science standards and corresponding curriculum known as the Teaching Literacy in Tennessee K-3 Unit Starter Professional Learning Packages that encourage teachers within the state to enact cross disciplinary teaching in the areas of literacy and science. This study is focused on two primary grade teachers who implemented the state standards and curriculum as well as Inspire Science, a commercial curriculum selected by the district and purchased by the state. Using qualitative ethnographic research procedures within an interactive sociocognitive model of classroom instruction as a framework for understanding the intersecting roles of teacher, text, and learner (Ruddell and Unrau, 2004), I sought to understand the following research questions: 1) How do two primary grade teachers interpret and enact science and literacy integration? and 2) How does the rural Appalachian setting influence the teachers’ interpretation or enactment of science and literacy integration? Interviews, observations, photos, and other documents were the sources of data for the study. Findings suggested that state policy impacted the synergy of disciplinary integration. Teachers learned through implementation of new curricula in ways that enhanced their teaching practice; yet, they adjusted the curricula to meet the developmental needs of their students; and they submitted substantive ways to improve disciplinary integration. Further, place-based culture appeared embedded in the pedagogy and instruction observed in the study and reported by the teachers. An emphasis on place-based understandings may, in the future, broker rural students’ understandings and interest in science and literacy.

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