Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Dr. Renee S. Schwartz

Second Advisor

Dr. Patrick J. Enderle

Third Advisor

Dr. Janice B. Fournillier

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Maggie Renken


Science teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) of argumentation, epistemological beliefs, and personal or external factors may influence how they integrated argumentation instruction. The present study had a qualitative multiple case study design and explored the influence of a one-year professional development program on four urban in-service science teachers’ PCK of argumentation and epistemological beliefs. The study also examined how science teachers translated their knowledge and beliefs into practice, and what other factors mediated the argumentation instruction. The data was collected through questionnaires, classroom observations, teacher created artifacts, field notes, informal conversations, and semi-structured interviews. The data was analyzed through constant comparative method to develop an in-depth profile of participants and to identify the shifts in science teachers’ epistemological beliefs and PCK of argumentation and the relationship between these constructs. The findings indicated that the positive change in the participating teachers’ PCK of argumentation was apparent during the informal conversations and final interview. The teachers held consistent and mixed epistemological beliefs throughout the study even though there were slight positive or negative shifts. These teachers’ implementation of argumentation was either aligned or modified with the expectations of argumentation instructional model in parallel to their PCK of argumentation and epistemological beliefs. Moreover, participating teachers referred to the factors mediating the argumentation instruction as their beliefs about student ability, district and standards, curriculum and testing, and school context. These results made recommendations for the design of professional development efforts targeting teachers’ PCK of argumentation and epistemological beliefs to result in significant changes.