Date of Award

8-15-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Valeri R. Helterbran, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Meghan Twiest, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Kelly Heider, D.Ed.

Abstract

Using a mixed methodology approach, this study examined the impact of the implementation of the science PSSA on the curriculum and instructional practice of eighth-grade teachers. It was hypothesized that despite the specter of PSSA influence on the academic climate, teachers are not necessarily influenced to change instructional practices, even if the curriculum has changed. A tripartite framework of change theory, motivational theory, and efficacy beliefs provided the lens through which this study was analyzed. Eleven eighth-grade science teachers from south central Pennsylvania completed an online survey composed of questions to ascertain change followed by four modified surveys to assess motivation and efficacy beliefs. For analysis, respondents were placed into two groups. Group 1 was defined by whether or not there was a change in the curriculum. Group 2 was defined by an expectation of change to instructional practices. The motivation and self-efficacy and collective efficacy beliefs of these teachers were analyzed using descriptive statistics for both Group 1 and Group 2. Supporting data was acquired through a focus group discussion and interviews with five volunteers from the eleven participants. The same questions were used for the focus group discussion and the interviews. The researcher transcribed the conversations and supporting statements were used to strengthen conclusions. The results from this study reveal that the majority of these teachers experienced a change in the science curriculum and more than half were expected to change their instructional methods. Their motivation is positively affected by the financial, administrative and professional supports they receive; their context beliefs were high. For those who experienced a change in curriculum, their motivation was negatively affected very slightly; those who did experience a change in curriculum showed slightly motivated. Self-efficacy beliefs were above average for both Groups of participants and collective efficacy beliefs were high for both groups. In summary, despite the changes made to curriculum and expectation of change to instructional practices, the participants remain motivated and believe that as individuals and as a group, they felt they were capable of helping students learn.

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