Portland State University. Environmental Sciences and Resources Ph. D. Program
William G. Becker
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Environmental Sciences and Resources
Environmental Sciences and Resources
1 online resource (xvi, 335 pages)
Inquiry-based learning, Students -- Attitudes, Motivation in education, Science -- Study and teaching (Secondary), Engineering -- Study and teaching (Secondary)
This mixed methods case study documents an effort to implement authentic science and engineering instruction in one teacher's ninth grade science classrooms in a science-focused public school. The research framework and methodology is a derivative of work developed and reported by Newmann and others (Newmann & Associates, 1996). Based on a working definition of authenticity, data were collected for eight months on the authenticity in the experienced teacher's pedagogy and in student performance. Authenticity was defined as the degree to which a classroom lesson, an assessment task, or an example of student performance demonstrates construction of knowledge through use of the meaning-making processes of science and engineering, and has some value to students beyond demonstrating success in school (Wehlage et al., 1996). Instruments adapted for this study produced a rich description of the authenticity of the teacher's instruction and student performance.
The pedagogical practices of the classroom teacher were measured as moderately authentic on average. However, the authenticity model revealed the teacher's strategy of interspersing relatively low authenticity instructional units focused on building science knowledge with much higher authenticity tasks requiring students to apply these concepts and skills. The authenticity of the construction of knowledge and science meaning-making processes components of authentic pedagogy were found to be greater, than the authenticity of affordances for students to find value in classroom activities beyond demonstrating success in school. Instruction frequently included one aspect of value beyond school, connections to the world outside the classroom, but students were infrequently afforded the opportunity to present their classwork to audiences beyond the teacher.
When the science instruction in the case was measured to afford a greater level of authentic intellectual work, a higher level of authentic student performance on science classwork was also measured. In addition, direct observation measures of student behavioral engagement showed that behavioral engagement was generally high, but not associated with the authenticity of the pedagogy. Direct observation measures of student self-regulation found evidence that when instruction focused on core science and engineering concepts and made stronger connections to the student's world beyond the classroom, student self-regulated learning was greater, and included evidence of student ownership.
In light of the alignment between the model of authenticity used in this study and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the results suggest that further research on the value beyond school component of the model could improve understanding of student engagement and performance in response to the implementation of the NGSS. In particular, it suggests a unique role environmental education can play in affording student success in K-12 science and a tool to measure that role.
Ellison, Michael Steven, "Ninth Grade Student Responses to Authentic Science Instruction" (2015). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2457.