Date of Conferral

2017

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Education

Advisor

Wade Smith

Abstract

Implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards requires developing elementary teacher content and pedagogical content knowledge of science and engineering concepts. Teacher preparation for this undertaking appears inadequate with little known about how in-service Mid-Atlantic urban elementary science teachers approach this task. The purpose of this basic qualitative interview study was to explore the research questions related to perceived learning needs of 8 elementary science teachers and 5 of their administrators serving as instructional leaders. Strategies needed for professional growth to support learning and barriers that hamper it at both building and district levels were included. These questions were considered through the lens of Schön's reflective learning and Weick's sensemaking theories. Analysis with provisional and open coding strategies identified informal and formal supports and barriers to teachers' learning. Results indicated that informal supports, primarily internet usage, emerged as most valuable to the teachers' learning. Formal structures, including professional learning communities and grade level meetings, arose as both supportive and restrictive at the building and district levels. Existing formal supports emerged as the least useful because of the dominance of other priorities competing for time and resources. Addressing weaknesses within formal supports through more effective planning in professional development can promote positive change. Improvement to professional development approaches using the internet and increased hands on activities can be integrated into formal supports. Explicit attention to these strategies can strengthen teacher effectiveness bringing positive social change.