Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Fall 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership (Ed.D)


Teacher Leadership for Learning

First Advisor

Dr. Mark Warner

Second Advisor

Dr. Thomas Brown

Third Advisor

Dr. Charlease Kelly-Jackson


The purpose of this study was to investigate how participation in a sustained professional development, the Math Science Partnership, improves teacher self-efficacy in science instruction and how it motivates teachers to incorporate elements of the training into their classroom instructional practices. This study considered the perspectives of forty-nine practicing elementary teachers as they participated in a sustained professional development over a two year period. This research study was intended to identify the most successful elements of the sustained professional development and their relationship to teacher self-efficacy in science.

The research design for this study was a case study. While case studies are considered qualitative research, this collective case study utilized a mixed methods research design by including a quantitative component, the Science Teaching Efficacy Belief Instrument or STEBI. Data collection was achieved by a variety of methods and instruments over the course of two years. Data sources included focus groups, observations, questionnaires, and pre-/post-STEBI results.

The study showed that participation in the MSP had a direct impact on daily classroom science instruction. The study results indicated that the MSP professional development program was effective in improving teacher self-efficacy in science, as scores on the STEBI increased at statistically significant rates over the course of the two years. A more detailed analysis of these results found that the STEBI questions with the highest gains were focused on improvements in science content and pedagogical knowledge. Qualitative data from participant questionnaires, focus groups, and observations supported the STEBI findings about improved teacher content and pedagogical knowledge in science. In addition to the themes of improved teacher content and pedagogical knowledge in science, three other themes clearly stood out in the experiences of each participant. These were (a) increased access to materials and resources, (b) benefits of collaboration with peers, (c) improved self-efficacy in science. These elements, content with pedagogy, access to materials, and inclusion in a community of learners collectively contributed to an increase in participant self-efficacy in science instruction.

These findings inform the educational literature bases as well as professional development providers and science leaders about the types of support and resources that practicing teachers require.