A study of the influence of a researched-based rationale on science teachers' beliefs and practices across key stages of teacher development

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Science Teaching


John W. Tillotson


Researched-based, Science teachers, Beliefs, Teacher development

Subject Categories

Education | Science and Mathematics Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development


Recent reforms in science education have shifted their attention towards teacher education. Although studies have been conducted to investigate science teacher education programs in the United States, few studies have explored the way in which teacher education programs can be used to support beginning science teachers as they progress from their formal teacher preparation into the early years of their career. Many educators have proposed that although learning to teach takes place along a continuum of professional development experiences and programs, extraneous factors existing within school communities minimize the impact of science teacher preparation programs.

This study has three purposes: the exploration of science teachers' current teaching beliefs and practices at key stages of the teacher development continuum; the determination of how these beliefs and practices have evolved over time since their formal teacher preparation; and an investigation of the influence of a research-based rationale for teaching science on teachers' beliefs and practices across key stages of the teacher development continuum.

The research participants involved in this qualitative research study consisted of twelve individuals divided equally into three cohorts that represent key stages of the science teacher development continuum. Throughout the study, the participants were interviewed regarding their teaching beliefs and practices and observed teaching science lessons in an effort to determine what influence, if any, the research-based rationale has on science teachers at varying stages of their teaching career. This study contributes to the growing literature on how to adequately prepare and support science teachers at all stages of development.

The outcomes of this study suggest that although the research-based rationale experience was perceived as a strongly influential experience impacting teachers' pedagogical beliefs and practices, the actual teaching practices are not consistent with teachers' proposed beliefs. Several social and cultural factors were reported as having an influence on classroom behaviors. The results yielded from this study call for further research investigations to be conducted on how to best implement professional development experiences during preservice teacher education programs that will have lasting impacts throughout teachers' careers.


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