A Study of Elementary Teachers’ Conceptions of Nature of Science and Their Beliefs about the Developmental Appropriateness and Importance of Nature of Science throughout a Professional Development Program
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Teaching and Learning
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Daniele B. Brown
Fourth Committee Member
Number of Pages
This qualitative study aimed to explore the changes in elementary science teachers’ conceptions of nature of science (NOS) and their beliefs about the developmental appropriateness and importance of NOS after participating in an academic, year-long professional development program (PDP) as well as the factors facilitating these changes. The PDP consisted of two phases. In the first phase, the participants received NOS training designed with an explicit-reflective instructional approach. In the second phase, the participants implemented several NOS training activities in their classrooms. Four elementary science teachers who volunteered and completed all components of the PDP (i.e., the NOS training and the NOS teaching) comprised the participants of the present study.
A multiple-embedded case study design was employed to explore the changes in the elementary science teachers’ conceptions of NOS and their beliefs about the developmental appropriateness and importance of NOS. The study data were collected from multiple sources. The primary data sources included (a) Views of Nature of Science Elementary School Version 2 (VNOS-D2) questionnaire (Lederman & Khishfe, 2002), (b) Ideas about Science for Early Elementary (K-4) Students questionnaire (Sweeney, 2010), and (c) follow-up semi-structured interviews. The secondary data sources included videotaping of meetings with teachers, reflective field notes, and artifacts produced by teachers and their students. Data were analyzed using Yin’s (1994, 2003) analytic tactics of pattern matching, explanation building, and cross-case synthesis.
The findings of the study revealed that the elementary science teachers showed gradual, but substantial changes in their conceptions, and beliefs about the developmental appropriateness and importance of the NOS aspects over the course of participation in the PDP. Moreover, the participants identified nine components in the PDP that facilitated these changes in their conceptions, and beliefs about the developmental appropriateness and importance of the NOS aspects. These components were (a) specific focus on the NOS content, (b) participation in hands-on activities on NOS, (c) educational readings on NOS, (d) multiple types/ formats of reflection, (e) multiple exposure to the NOS content, (f) structural consistency in the presentation of the NOS content, (g) the evaluation of secondary student data, (h) the analysis of national and state science standards in terms of NOS, and (i) the implementation of the NOS activities in the classroom. Based on the findings of this study, it may be concluded that explicit-reflective NOS instruction coupled with NOS teaching is sufficient to evolve and crystallize teachers’ conceptions and beliefs about the developmental appropriateness and importance of the NOS aspects.
Elementary teachers; Nature of Science; Professional Development Program; Teacher Beliefs
Philosophy of Science | Science and Mathematics Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development
Adibelli, Elif, "A Study of Elementary Teachers’ Conceptions of Nature of Science and Their Beliefs about the Developmental Appropriateness and Importance of Nature of Science throughout a Professional Development Program" (2015). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 2460.