Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



This mixed methods study investigated elementary in-service teachers’ experiences of science professional development and understanding of three-dimensional science teaching and phenomenon-based learning. The Next Generation Science Standards expect students to apply the science core ideas in context using science and engineering practices, but elementary teachers report feeling unprepared to teach science (Smith, 2020a). The instrument used for data collection was the STEBI-A, validated by Riggs and Enochs (1990). The presurvey was given to in-service elementary teachers of third, fourth, or fifth grades. A virtual professional development introduced teachers to the NGSS and phenomenon-based learning, after which the postsurvey was given. Teachers taught a science activity, participated in weekly discussions, and then took a delayed postsurvey. The survey showed a statistically significant increase in both overall teacher self-efficacy and student achievement, and the interviews and focus groups revealed the emerging themes of authentic learning in science, teacher self-efficacy, equity in science, and professional learning.

The findings of this study include several implications for elementary teachers, administrators and educational leaders, professional development providers, and teacher preparation programs. All stakeholders must consider how to support effective science professional development to build in-service science teacher self-efficacy, foster equity in science education, and increase the successful implementation of the science standards. The results of this study contribute to the research about effective professional learning and pedagogy for implementing three-dimensional science lessons with elementary students and show that in-service elementary teachers benefit from ongoing professional learning experiences with collaboration and reflection on student outcomes.



Committee Chair

Sulentic Dowell, Margaret Mary

Available for download on Saturday, January 09, 2027