Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type

Masters Plan B

Department

Science & Mathematics Teaching Center

Advisor

Ana Houseal, Chair

Second Advisor

Alan Buss, Member

Third Advisor

Victoria Gillis, Member

Fourth Advisor

Jeffrey Lockwood, Outside Member

Abstract

Following the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), drastic shifts in science teaching will be necessary to meet the standards. Because critical thinking skills are an underlying component of the NGSS, examining how educators are teaching critical thinking skills to their students can help to identify what additional shifts in practice must occur. Given the theoretical connections between teacher beliefs and classroom instruction, this research examined the how secondary science teachers participating in professional development perceived their ability to integrate critical thinking skills in the classroom. A mixed-methods approach consisting of self-reported questionnaires measuring teacher perception and classroom observation was used. Results from this research suggest that secondary science teachers who participate in sustained, responsive professional development decrease their concerns while increasing their perceived confidence and commitment to implement new educational reform in their classroom. Additionally, teachers’ perceptions corresponded with their in-class teaching to varying degrees, as indicated by observation. This type of professional development can change teacher perception and that change can correspond to some classroom instructional shifts.

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