Date of Award

Winter 12-8-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Secondary Education



Committee Chair

Dr. Kimberly Cortes

First Committee Member

Dr. Megan Adams

Second Committee Member

Dr. Michael Dias


Inquiry-based instruction within science has been a growing field for decades. The foundation of inquiry is constructivism; that students must do science in order to understand it. Instruction using inquiry is something that has been written into the Next Generation Science Standards along with many state standards, like the Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE). Teaching inquiry within a rural public high school chemistry setting has its own set of challenges unique to the rural context. Research is needed to give those educators a voice regarding teaching inquiry. This study utilized a mixed-methods design of survey and interviews to allow these rural public high school chemistry teachers a platform to weigh in on the feasibility of teaching standards through inquiry, methods of teaching concepts that require students to plan and carry out investigations, and their access to supplies, technology, planning, and professional development required to teach an inquiry-based unit including laboratory activities. Almost two-thirds of Georgia’s rural public high schools had at least one participant who completed the survey. Participants from the survey were then chosen to complete an interview to further discuss their experiences. The survey data showed that the majority of participants used inquiry in their classrooms in some form but desired more time and resources to implement inquiry-based instruction. Methods used to integrate inquiry in the classroom and lab varied, as expected. One finding showed that many interview participants seemed to perceive students planning and carrying out investigations as reserved for wet labs. Interview data also emphasized how much time and personal funds teachers spend on their classrooms for labs and professional development. A desire for chemistry-specific professional development resonated among survey and interview participants. The findings brought forth in this dissertation can be used to inform policies regarding professional development and continued support for rural public high school teachers. Georgia Department of Education can also use the data to help meet the expressed needs of teachers in the state. Additionally, other states can use the data presented here to begin discussions about their own rural teachers and how they can best be supported to teach chemistry using inquiry-based instruction.