Dissertation Defense Announcement

College of Education announces the Final Dissertation Defense of 

Rachel Askew

for the Degree of Doctor of Education

August 13, 2019 at 1:00 PM in Ball Hall,Room 405

Advisor: Angie Powell

Becoming a Science Teacher Together: Course Creation and Exploration Through Participatory Action Research

ABSTRACT: States across the nation are reporting a shortage in teachers, with science being a particular area of need (Sutcher, Darling-Hammond, & Carver-Thomas, 2016). Research has been done, and is still taking place, centered around elementary school teachers and their beliefs on science teaching (Avraamidou, 2014/2016), due in part to a noticeable trend in low science teaching self-efficacy, which can impact students' beliefs in science (Ramsey & Howe 1969; Krajcik, Czerniak, & Berger, 2003; Bergman & Morphew, 2015; Menon & Sadler, 2016).  Studies on science teacher identity are not often representative of elementary education teachers (Mensah, 2016); nor do they approach the topic from a discussion of subjectivity (Bazzul, 2016). Through collaboration by means of Participatory Action Research (PAR) between myself, as an instructor, and six pre-service elementary teachers, as undergraduate students, we explored what it means to be(come) an elementary science teacher. PAR gave us a space to negotiate the traditional power relations between teacher-students and researcher-participants by allowing for an authentic collaboration where the students' realities and views of who they are and want to be as science teachers lead the class. Using a theoretical framework of subjectivity and building off work in elementary science teacher identity (Avraamidou, 2014/2016/2019; Mensah, 2016), we disrupted the traditional course expectations and created our own course based on students' questions and understandings. The study took place in a sixteen-week elementary science methods course with six students and one instructor. Students in the course were enrolled in the teacher preparation program and in their last semester of course work before completing full-time residency in an elementary or middle school. Data consists of various documents including the co-created course syllabus, assignments, readings, activities, and journals, as well as teacher observations and notes. Individual journal reflections were required at the end of every class and class conversations dove deeper in to concepts on science education and science teacher identity. Collectively, we created a class journeys timeline, which serves as our representation of what we learned about ourselves as science teachers throughout the project.