Theses Doctoral

Investigating the Experience of Water: A Case Study of Teaching and Learning in Elementary School Science

Levy, Amanda

Limited research has been done on the implementation of experiential learning to align with science and engineering practices. This research project developed an instrumental case study to examine the efficacy of an experiential education framework for teaching and learning water science and engineering practices in the elementary science classroom. This study investigates the process of a practicing scientist mentoring a 6th grade elementary science teacher and their participation in professional development activities, strategies used for preparation and practice, classroom implementation, and the consequences of student learning with two sections of science students. Data collection and analysis of teacher background surveys, unit plans provided by the teacher, classroom and field observations, and a semi-structured interview were data sources for the study. Student evidence was collected from pre/post drawing assessments, pre/posttests, reflections, and student artifacts. The findings indicated that personal, intensive long term professional development sessions had an impact on the teacher’s practice, where she was able to use the experiential framework as a guiding principle to create an outdoor and classroom-based unit on water in Earth systems. In her practice, she was able to use the framework to create analogies to make connections between natural water filtration and classroom models, and she used an integrated approach to discuss engineering and filter design. The scientist-teacher mentorship resulted in an increase in the teacher’s confidence and ability to teach elementary science topics on water science. Students’ conceptual understanding of water cycle components and processes progressed over the course of the unit from atmospheric level to subsurface level interactions. Students achieved an understanding of physical properties of matter and hydrogeological concepts of permeability and porosity. Students were able to understand systems thinking and developed dynamic thinking. Implications of this study indicate that the experiential learning framework is an effective pedagogical tool for teachers to introduce science and engineering practices as specified in the K-12 Framework. Using this framework, the classroom teacher was able to complete practices for planning and carrying out investigations, developing and using models, analyzing and interpreting data, and constructing and designing solutions.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Thesis Advisors
Mensah, Felicia
Anderson, O. Roger
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 23, 2018