Type of Document Thesis Author Hutner, Todd Lewis Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-07062009-110723 Title The Development and Validation of the Teachers Goals for Science Education Scale Degree Master of Science Department Teacher Education, School of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Sherry Southerland Committee Chair Alejandro Gallard Committee Member Victor Sampson Committee Member Frederick Davis Outside Committee Member Keywords
- Scale Development
- Teacher Beliefs
- Educational Goals
- Reform Documents
Date of Defense 2009-06-15 Availability unrestricted AbstractThroughout the history of American public education, three competing goals have exerted their influence over the course of educational reform. The goal of democratic equality promotes education for civic participation and the creation of intellectually competent citizens. Social efficiency promotes education for a productive economy and the production of laborers to fill structurally necessary market roles. Social mobility promotes the creation of academic elites who can trade their educational credentials in later in life for desired social positions.
The influence of these goals can also be seen during the continued calls for the reform of science education. Social mobility was the dominant goal during the National Science Foundation funded reforms of the 1950s. Social efficiency came to dominate reform discourse in the 1980s and early 1990s, stemming from the recommendations contained within the A Nation at Risk report. Lastly, democratic equality has come to dominate the current discourse of science for all, particularly through the emphasis on equity. Furthermore, each of the three goals produces a very different approach in how to most effectively teach science.
Research findings indicate that teacher beliefs heavily influence teacher actions with regards to teaching science. As teachers are still implementing traditional forms of teaching (an approach that is easily aligned with social efficiency and social mobility, but not with democratic equality) it becomes important to find out which of the three goals are supported by science teachers.
A scale was developed and validated in order to ascertain which goal—democratic equality, social efficiency, or social mobility—teachers favor and how teachers who believe in these goals react to the leading reform documents Science for All Americans and the National Science Education Standards. Two pilot studies with teachers in Texas and a final administration with teachers in Florida provided evidence for internal consistency reliability. A focus group with experts in science education provided evidence for construct and content validity. Two focus groups with practicing science teachers ensured the meaning of each item was interpreted in a similar fashion by both the researcher and the participants. Lastly, comparisons of teachers’ qualitative comments regarding these three goals and their scores on the scale were used to provide evidence for convergent validity.
It has been determined by the researcher that sufficient evidence for reliability and validity exists for the portion of the scale that measures which goals of education teachers believe in. However, not enough teachers indicated having familiarity with the reform documents to answer questions regarding the effectiveness of the recommendations put forth within these documents. Consequently, the section on the reform documents has not been validated. Upon the validation of the scale, it was found that the majority of science teachers in Florida believe in democratic equality, either solely or in conjunction with one of the other two goals.
Implications arising from this research indicate that teachers may be receptive to the reform documents, but other pressures within the greater educational system prevent their contact with or enactment of reform-based methodologies. In order to enact the vision contained within the reform documents, a concerted effort must be made to bring about policy changes that promote an educational climate friendlier to democratic equality. Finally, it may also be necessary to modify the message contained within these documents so they are more compatible with social efficiency or social mobility belief systems.
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