Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Education

Abstract

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine the perceptions of elementary teachers who teach science as opposed to science teacher specialists regarding their efforts to help students use student-to-student discourse for improving science learning. A growing body of research confirms the importance of a) student-to-student discourse for making meaning of science ideas and b) moving students’ conceptual development towards a more scientific understanding of the natural world. Based on those foundations, the three research questions that guided this study examined the value elementary teachers place on student-to-student discourse, the various approaches teachers employ to promote the use of student-to-student discourse for learning science, and the factors and conditions that promote and inhibit the use of student-to-student discourse as an effective pedagogical strategy in elementary science. Data were gathered from 23 elementary teachers in a single district using an on-line survey and follow-up interviews with 8 teachers. All data were analyzed and evolving themes led to the following findings: (1) elementary teachers value student-to-student discourse in science, (2) teachers desire to increase time using student-to-student discourse, (3) teachers use a limited number of student-to-student discourse strategies to increase student learning in science, (4) teachers use student-to-student discourse as formative assessment to determine student learning in science, (5) professional development focusing on approaches to student-to-student discourse develops teachers’ capacity for effective implementation, (6) teachers perceive school administrators’ knowledge of and support for student-to-student discourse as beneficial, (7) time and scheduling constraints limit the use of student-to-student discourse in science. Implications of this study included the necessity of school districts to focus on student-to-student discourse in science, provide teacher and administrator professional development regarding student-to-student discourse instructional strategies, and promote collaboration across disciplines. This study suggests that future research be conducted regarding the role of administrators in fostering student-to-student discourse, the perspectives of secondary teachers implementing student-to-student discourse, the use of student-to-student discourse in other subjects, and leadership approaches to broadening the study across districts.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Number of Pages

189

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