K-8 Teacher Blended Learning Professional Development and NGSS,and Communities of Practice: A Mixed Methods Study

Open Access
Author:
Bug, Leah
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
February 27, 2018
Committee Members:
  • Gregory John Kelly, Dissertation Advisor
  • Gregory John Kelly, Committee Chair
  • Kathleen Mitchell Hill, Committee Member
  • Scott P Mcdonald, Committee Member
  • Susan W Stewart, Outside Member
  • James Nolan, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • NGSS
  • Communities of Practice
  • Teacher Professional Development
  • K-8 Science Education
  • Blended Learning
  • Mixed Methods Study
  • K-8 Science Teacher Professional Development
Abstract:
Research indicates the most effective type of teacher professional development (TPD) involves a sustained and ongoing experience, which is coherent, job-embedded, and involves active participation by the learner and includes a learning community (Borko et al., 2010; Desimone, 2009; Easton, 2008; Loucks-Horsely et al., 2010). However, most teachers continue to participate in episodic workshops (Darling-Hammond et al., 2009). As online learning opportunities continue to increase, can the utilization of online approaches create more meaningful TPD? Using a convergent parallel mixed methods design, this study investigated the effect various types of K-8 science teacher professional development had on teacher learning experiences and science teaching pedagogy, with a focus on how a blended learning (face-to-face and online) teacher professional development program impacts teacher’s approaches to science teaching, their understanding of the Next Generation Science Standards, and their engagement in a community of practice through participation in an online learning community. Analyzing data from the National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education and the implementation and analysis of teacher engagement in a blended learning experience focused on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), findings from this research indicate teachers participating in both workshops and learning communities tend to teach in ways suggested by the NGSS more than teachers attending only workshops. Teachers’ general knowledge about NGSS increased but they struggled to deeply understand specific scientific and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. This research continues to validate workshop attendance is the least effective type of TPD and learning communities are more effective. The NGSS three-dimensional understanding of crosscutting concepts are the most challenging dimension for teachers and should be a significant focus in TPD.