Theses Doctoral

Vertically Aligned Professional Learning Communities as a Keystone for Elementary Science Teacher Professional Development, Growth, and Support.

Hillman, Peter Charles

Many school districts do not require science in the elementary school curriculum or place significantly more emphasis on the performance of students on the ELA and Math tests. With science education shifting to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), there is a critical need for high quality science instruction in elementary schools. This study examines the experiences of 28 elementary teachers engaged in a science education professional development program that was comprised of 60 kindergarten through twelve grade teachers. I examine the experiences of the 28 elementary teachers as they work in vertically aligned professional learning communities with middle and high school teachers. Findings in this study indicate that the model provides a supportive environment for elementary teachers to grow and develop both personally and professionally in their science teaching practice. Evidence is presented that shows how a learning community of elementary, middle and high school teachers can provide an opportunity for elementary teachers to socially construct knowledge of how to best support student success in science. Additionally, the findings show that elementary teachers are able to socially construct knowledge about effective teaching practices in science that support core science teaching practices. The findings also indicate that the nature of these learning communities also provided many structures that can support increased efficacy amongst elementary science teachers. Finally, the experiences of elementary teachers engaged in his study were overwhelmingly positive, leading to increased trust and respect amongst peers and improved confidence and motivation to teach science at the elementary level.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Thesis Advisors
Mensah, Felica
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 14, 2018