Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Sharon Dotger


Adolescence Teacher Education;Environmental Social Justice;Pedagogical Practices;Socioscientific Issues-Based Curricula;Teaching Experiment;Teaching Identities


The climate crisis is an environmental issue that affects people of all walks of life but has disproportionate effects on those living in impoverished communities. The climate crisis therefore is not only an issue of environmental justice, but also social justice. However, incorporating environmental issues within education has typically been left to science classrooms. Teaching for environmental social justice, however, has the potential to extend beyond science content and science classrooms, and instead be incorporated in content across all academic disciplines. This dissertation is a teaching experiment that explored the ways adolescent preservice teachers from various disciplines develop their teaching identities while engaging in a curriculum that centered on environmental social justice. This teaching experiment was carried out in an Introduction to Adolescence Education Course at a public college in Central New York. The course was designed and taught by myself. Over the duration of the course, I was intentional to use the framework of conscientious engagement to support my own teaching identity, and further implemented an intervention. The I chose socioscientific issue-based curricula as the framework of the intervention unit because it most aligned with my teaching identity. This intervention unit served as a base of this teaching experiment to intention of modeling ways content knowledge can be delivered in ways that are interdisciplinary, equitable, promote civic engagement of the twenty-first century, and aligns with environmental social justice. Through the implementation of the intervention learning unit, this teaching experiment explores the developing teaching identities and pedagogical practices of 6 adolescent preservice teachers over the course of one semester. The semester is 16-weeks long and the intervention is conducted for 4 weeks, mid-way through the semester. Six adolescent preservice teachers agreed to participate in this study, two majored in mathematics education, three in science education, and one in English as a Second Language. This study revealed ways in which preservice teachers’ emerging teaching identities are shaped by influential experiences including their personal experiences as a student, experiences with teachers, family influences, and their experiences in their teacher preparation program. Furthermore, findings in this study reveal that one’s teaching identity and values are not always consistent with the pedagogical practices they aim to use as a practicing educator. Two preservice science teachers expressed having teaching identities and implemented pedagogical practices that align with environmental social justice. Four of the study participants expressed having teaching identities whose values aligned with social justice. For those four participants however, the pedagogical practices they implemented were inequitable and societally irrelevant. Additional findings within this teaching experiment demonstrate areas of growth for preservice teachers resulting from this teaching experiment, including shifts in personal perspectives, further aspirations as a teacher, and developing an orientation towards environmental sustainability. Additionally, although this teaching experiment focused on environmental social justice, two preservice teachers expressed developing teaching identities and aspirations of implementing pedagogical practices that aligned with conscientious engagement. This teaching experiment presents ways teacher preparation programs foster unique environments and opportunities for preservice teachers to observe, explore, and experiment with their teaching identities and pedagogical practices. Therefore, teaching preparation programs can be intentionally crafted to support preservice educators in becoming educators who implement equitable learning opportunities for all students and promote civic engagement for the twenty-first century.


Open Access