Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

David Weintraub

Abstract

In a large urban district in Ohio, 29.2% of Grade 5, 28.7% of Grade 8, and 45.7% of Grade 10 students passed the state test in science. School district administrators formed a community partnership with local science institutions in order to provide students with hands-on place-based learning experiences intended to improve science academic achievement in PK-Grade 5. The purpose of this qualitative program evaluation was to determine the level of implementation of that place-based program by examining the efficacy of the teachers' embedded professional development and their experiences with the training components. Bruner's theory of cognitive development was used to examine teachers' needs in facilitating the program. A stratified random sample of 659 PK-Grade 5 teachers from 73 district elementary schools was selected, and 57 teachers responded to an anonymous online survey of 5 open-ended questions. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis to identity factors that enhanced or impeded the implementation of place-based education programming based on their professional development. The key findings indicated that over half of the participants viewed resources as lacking, training as limited, and planning that is too time consuming, and complicated. Participants expressed the need for clarity regarding resources and more training on how to plan for and integrate the placed-based approach. The resulting project was an executive summary and interactive workshop for program stakeholders, such as administrators, teachers, and ultimately students, who would benefit from this project by improving the place-based program.