AN INVESTIGATION OF TEACHERS' REPORTED USE OF SCIENTIFIC PRACTICES IN ELEMENTARY INSTRUCTION: IMPLICATIONS FOR STUDENT OUTCOMES AND PRINCIPALS' SELF-EFFICACY
McLaughlin, Margaret J.
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Innovative and ambitious efforts are taking place to implement the new vision for science education—the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS) in the United States. To implement this new vision, teachers must reconsider how they use their science content knowledge (SCK) and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in new ways that require teachers to use the three dimensions, of the NGSS to deliver phenomena -based science instruction. The use of the science and engineering practices for students to make sense of the world will be at the core of this shift. This study was conducted in a mid-Atlantic state that is one of the leaders in the adoption and implementation of NGSS. All of the local education agencies (LEAs) are expected to implement these standards by revising their science curriculum and providing professional development to their teachers. Additionally, students in grades 5, 8, and 10 will be assessed using a new and more rigorous state science assessment based on the NGSS that will be used for school and district accountability by 2020. If students will be expected to demonstrate their knowledge of the new standards, science instruction aligned with the new standards needs to begin early. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to document the extent to which grade 1-5 teachers in one district within the state report using one of the eight NGSS science and engineering practices, specifically the development and use of models in their science instruction. Selection of this practice was supported by research that supports the development and use of models in elementary science instruction as an anchor for all the other NGSS seven science and engineering practices. This exploratory study utilized an online survey to document the frequency, barriers, and relationships and differences between teacher characteristics and demographics on the use of models to support students’ learning outcomes. Findings suggest that grade 1-5 teachers have a low frequency of use of models in their science instruction. Several barriers were identified and ranked. Of significance were the inequity of resources and inadequate administrator support. Several relationships and differences were also discerned. Additionally, several implications for improvement and reform in District Q were discussed.