Date of Award

7-3-2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Lisa Martin-Hansen - Chair

Second Advisor

John Wilson

Third Advisor

Christine Thomas

Fourth Advisor

Daphne Greenberg

Abstract

The problem being studied in this research is the relationship between a specific series of integrated science courses in a science teacher preparation program and the actual needs of the science teacher during the first years of teaching practice. Teachers often report that there is a disconnect between the coursework they have taken in college as pre-service teachers and the reality of their classroom practice during their first years of teaching. The intent of this study was to record the descriptions of three teachers who were members of a cohort and took a series of integrated science courses (NSCI series) during their teacher preparation program as it related to the influence of these courses on their teaching practice. The focus of inquiry is guided by a single question: How do former participants in the series of science courses who are currently novice teachers describe their confidence in their ability to teach science content to their middle school students? The theoretical framework was based on Shulman’s (1987) pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). PCK involves the teacher understanding the content of science so thoroughly that ways are identified of representing and formulating the subject matter to make it understandable to others. The teacher who has a strong PCK uses powerful analogies, illustrations, examples, explanations and demonstrations that promote personally meaningful student understandings. Novice teachers’ reflections on their confidence to teach science content to their middle school students were observed through the lens of PCK. All three novice teachers reported a high confidence level to teach middle school science and attributed their confidence level to a great degree to the integrated science series of courses (NSCI). METHOD A qualitative design, specifically a case study, was used for this study. Multiple forms of data collection were employed including a semi structured interview and a focus group. Data was collected, categorized and analyzed over a six week period. A constant comparative method (Bogdan & Biklen, 1998) was used to examine the data. Triangulation, member checking and a peer reviewer were used to reduce the risk of bias and increase the trustworthiness of the data.

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