Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2868-9474

Date of Award

5-17-2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Sheryl Cowart Moss

Second Advisor

Dr. Kristina Brezicha

Third Advisor

Dr. Yinying Wang

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to characterize the Georgia Science Ambassadors Program (GSAP) by investigating the perceptions and experiences of elementary-level (K-5) Georgia Science Ambassadors (GSA). The GSAP was instituted to augment the leadership capacity of science educators across the state and to support the implementation of the new Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE) for Science. The study explored GSA’s perceptions about how the relative distribution of leadership and support has influenced their ability to lead GSE implementation. A sample of 15 elementary-level ambassadors was purposively selected for the study. Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews and document analysis. Data analysis was conducted within a theoretical frame of distributed instructional leadership and systems theory. A combination of provisional, structural, and values coding was used to identify emergent themes and patterns. The findings suggested that elementary-level GSA have been largely marginalized by principals. Distribution of leadership and support to the elementary science ambassadors has been sparse and inconsistent. Even in rare cases when leadership and support were distributed to ambassadors, it was oftentimes mediated by other factors, such as time constraints, conflicting priorities, and teachers’ receptivity of the GSE. Ambassadors’ perceptions and experiences generated insights and recommendations for improving the program, orchestrating similar policy endeavors, and leading the implementation of reform-based science standards. A summary and discussion of the findings include limitations of the study, suggestions for future lines of inquiry, and the theoretical, practical, and policy implications of the study.

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