Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Learning

First Committee Member

Shaoan Zhang

Second Committee Member

Lisa D. Bendixen

Third Committee Member

Katrina Liu

Fourth Committee Member

Steven Bickmore

Number of Pages



Teachers’ beliefs shape their daily instruction and the materials presented to students. The personal views of educators are especially relevant when socioscientific issues are involved. Preservice and novice teachers’ mastery of the nature of science (NOS) and personal beliefs in and out of the classroom influence their worldviews and classroom practices. Although research has been conducted regarding conceptual change and epistemic change, it is not understood how conceptual change and epistemic change affect instructional practice. The purpose of the mixed methods explanatory sequential study was to determine how students in a science methods classroom think and reason with explicit and reflective instruction when experiencing conceptual change and shifting epistemic beliefs. The sequential study began with quantitative data analysis (Phase One) followed by the qualitative data analysis (Phase Two). Phase one quantitative data regarding the changes in thinking and reasoning ability and conceptual and epistemic change informed the selection of participants for second phase, wherein qualitative data was collected and analyzed. The study’s quantitative findings were that although there was a weak monotonic relationship, no statistically significant relationships existed among variables. The qualitative findings confirmed and explained Phase One’s results. Three themes emerged from the data relating to the importance of NOS understanding to teaching high school science, the centrality of critical thinking and reasoning to understanding and teaching science, and preservice and novice teachers’ tendency to underestimate the importance of conceptual change within instructional practice. The study’s results are relevant to teacher preparation programs. Keywords: conceptual change, reasoning, epistemic beliefs, nature of science, explicit-reflective instruction, preservice teachers


conceptual change; epistemic change; explicit-reflective instruction; preservice teachers; reasoning



File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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