Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Science Education

First Advisor

Dr. William W. Cobern

Second Advisor

Dr. David Rudge

Third Advisor

Dr. Amy Bentz


Next generation science standards, teacher professional development, teacher change, parents


Science teachers are receiving professional development (PD) since the introduction of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in 2013. Following PD, teachers are facing several challenges while attempting to implement NGSS in their classroom, some of which include budget constraints, administrative support, and student preparedness (Banilower et al., 2013). Additionally, Channell and Cobern's (2018) study on teachers’ experiences aligning to NGSS following PD adds parent pushback to this list of challenges. This study seeks to address a set of interconnected issues related to teachers creating and administering lessons aligned to the NGSS that they have created following PD, and subsequent parent-teacher interactions that have resulted from use of these lessons with students.

This study is comprised of three manuscripts that outline three individual but related projects. A three-study model was used in this study because there are two separate parties involved, teachers and parents, and the lessons themselves require research attention. A group of 14 K-12 teachers participated in two of the studies simultaneously, with the first study revolving around teacher accounts of interactions with parents and the second focusing on evaluations of lessons teachers built following PD. Fifteen parents of K-12 students participated in a third study that gathered their feedback on NGSS awareness, approval or concern about their children’s science education, and parents’ needs to help their students learn science at home. The three manuscripts are ordered within this study based on the relatability of the resulting data.

The first manuscript details a qualitative study comprised of survey and interview data from 14 K-12 teachers. By speaking directly to teachers about a specific, undocumented barrier during NGSS reform, this study expands on what the broad set of obstacles previously identified within the literature. The second manuscript describes a qualitative study made up of survey and interview data from 15 parents of K-12 students. By talking to these oft-ignored stakeholders in education, this study shows the current level of understanding parents have of NGSS, as well as reveal areas of both satisfaction and concern about their children’s science instruction. The third manuscript presents evaluations of lessons developed by 14 K-12 teachers following NGSS PD that were designed to align to the new standards. By contrasting evaluations on the teacher-built lessons performed by the participating teachers, and the researchers, with evaluative help from the PD practitioner who administered PD to the teachers, this study shows themes in strengths and weaknesses in lessons currently being used by teachers within the classroom. The results of this study may indicate as to the extent to which teachers’ current attempts at building NGSS lessons have been successful. This knowledge serves a dual purpose: to make an inference as to whether lesson quality has affected student learning, and in turn, parent feedback; and to serve to inform PD practitioners how to better tailor future PD sessions to address areas of weakness in lesson building. The cumulative results of the three studies build upon one another to help uncover ways to better inform parents about NGSS, improve communication between teachers and parents while attempting to align their classrooms to NGSS, and identify elements of teachers’ newly created NGSS lessons that need continued support in the form of PD.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access