Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum & Instruction

First Committee Member

Emily Lin

Second Committee Member

Jian Wang

Third Committee Member

Hasan Deniz

Fourth Committee Member

Michael Nussbaum

Number of Pages



Lower science achievement and substantial racial performance gaps persist among students in the US. In the current reform of science teaching, inquiry-based science teaching is assumed effective in improving all student science learning in both scientific content and process and reducing learning gaps across racial groups. Conversely, traditional didactic science teaching is believed to be the most popular and has contributed to lower science achievement and the racial gap. These two assumptions, although central to science teaching reforms, cannot be empirically sustained in the existing literature on science teaching. Framed through the theoretical perspectives of inquiry-based instruction and culturally relevant pedagogy, this study examines several specific hypotheses relevant to the two assumptions using the eighth grade US student questionnaire surveys and student performance data from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2007. An exploratory factor analysis and a two-level hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) approach were used for the data analysis to examine these hypotheses. Results from the study indicated that three science-teaching approaches (more inquiry-oriented, more didactic, and practice-based teaching) emerged from the analysis of TIMSS 2007 data. However, none of the three approaches match the theoretical assumptions as defined in most research. Additionally, none of them showed a statistical relationship to science knowing or applying achievements for Caucasian, African American, or Hispanic students. Moreover, a more inquiry-based science teaching approach was found to be negatively related to student science knowing and applying achievement for Asian American students. It was also more likely to reduce the achievement gap between African American and Asian American students.


Academic achievement; Culturally relevant pedagogy; Discrimination in education; Eighth grade (Education); Inquiry-based learning; Science education


Educational Methods | Junior High, Intermediate, Middle School Education and Teaching | Science and Mathematics Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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