Term of Award

Fall 2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Lina B. Soares

Committee Member 1

James M. LoBue

Committee Member 2

Martha Schriver

Committee Member 3

John A. Weaver

Committee Member 3 Email



In an age of accountability, the demands and constraints placed on science teachers seem insurmountable. Teachers are challenged to provide students with authentic scientific experiences, yet the need to prepare students for high-stakes tests remains. The problem of attrition and job stress in the field of science teaching is growing. As pressures rise, it becomes necessary to understand what the culture of science education is like from the perspective of the science teacher. This study sought to define the culture of science education and determine how this culture informs teacher practice in the secondary science classroom. This qualitative case study was conducted within the context of a small, rural high school with four science teachers. Data was collected through a number of procedures that included participant observation, field notes, interviews, informal conversations, focus group interviews, audio recordings, and artifacts from the school. Data analysis was conducted using inductive coding processes and grounded theory. This study found that the culture of science education was defined by the constant collaborative nature of the community of practice, the formation and negotiation of teacher identity, and policies mandated by both state and local school administration. These aspects of the culture informed teacher practice through the method of instruction used in the classroom and the depth of inquiry allowed for laboratory work.