Event: Undergraduate Research Symposium
Date: May 18, 2019
Location: UCI Student Center
Presenters: Jazmin Cruz, Haley DeSales
Mentors: Judith Sandholtz, Jenell Krishnan
Title: The NGSS Era: Understanding Rural Elementary Teachers’ Science Instruction
A significant educational inequity exists regarding science instruction in rural, low socioeconomic school settings in comparison to their affluent counterparts. Implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is an attempt to close the opportunity gap, specifically for science learning. The perceptions of NGSS by elementary school science teachers are critical for closing this gap. Thus, our investigation focuses on rural elementary school teachers’ perceptions of NGSS as it relates to their instructional strategies for science teaching. Specifically, our goals are threefold: (1) to understand what teachers perceive as beneficial regarding NGSS, (2) to explore what challenges teachers report related to implementing NGSS, and (3) to draw connections between these perceptions and teachers’ self-reported science instructional strategies. We analyzed 47 rural elementary science teachers’ interviews using qualitative coding. Teachers reported several benefits of NGSS-aligned science teaching including its focus on student-driven inquiry around an authentic phenomenon. Teachers also reported several challenges to NGSS-aligned science teaching including a lack of curriculum, and its required shift in instructional practice. These findings suggest that teachers’ perceptions of NGSS play some role in the science learning opportunities afforded to elementary school students in today’s rural contexts. To improve science learning opportunities for underserved students, additional research is needed to understand the factors that influence elementary school teachers’ science instructional practice.
Jazmin Cruz & Haley DeSales Presenting at 2019 UROP Research Symposium