Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




JoeAnn Hinrichs


With the low enrollment in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields at the high school and college levels, administrators at the local school district have been struggling to improve elementary school students' performance in math and science. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the STEM program using hands-on instruction facilitated by professional development (PD) activities. Guided by Dewey, Piaget, and Vygotsky' constructivism theory, the qualitative program evaluation using the research questions examined the success of the STEM program using a hands-on instructional approach and the PD support that teachers need to be effective in the classroom. Through a purposeful homogenous sampling, 10 science and math teachers having the experience in using the hands-on instructional approach participated in the data collection. Data collected from the 6 interview respondents, a 4-member focus group respondents through semi-structured interviews, and Grade 5 students' science and math test scores were analyzed for assessing outcomes. Thematic coding, peer debriefing, and member checks were employed as methods to ensure the trustworthiness of interpretations. Two themes emerged indicating that hands-on pedagogy allowed students to become active learners and PD activities provided teachers with quality teaching skills. The program evaluation report recommends efforts to make PD necessary for kinesthetic learning as an integral component implementing a STEM program. Social change is promoted by helping teachers to use proper kinesthetic learning skills to translate STEM concepts into reality to increase student's performance