Degree Granting Department
Educational Measurement and Research
John Ferron, Ph.D.
Robert Dedrick, Ph.D.
Jennifer Wolgemuth, Ph.D.
Karen Besterman-Dahan, Ph.D.
education, professional development, qualitative, quantitative, reliable change index
School reform programs focus on making educational changes; however, research on interventions past the funded implementation phase to determine what was sustained is rarely done (Beery, Senter, Cheadle, Greenwald, Pearson, et al., 2005). This study adds to the research on sustainability by determining what instructional practices, if any, of the Teaching SMART[reg] professional development program that was implemented from 2005-2008 in elementary schools with teachers in grades third through eighth were continued, discontinued, or adapted five years post-implementation (in 2013). Specifically, this study sought to answer the following questions: What do teachers who participated in Teaching SMART[reg] and district administrators share about the sustainability of Teaching SMART[reg] practices in 2013? What teaching strategies do teachers who participated in the program (2005-2008) use in their science classrooms five years post-implementation (2013)? What perceptions about the roles of females in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) do teachers who participated in the program (2005-2008) have five years later (2013)? And, What classroom management techniques do the teachers who participated in the program (2005-2008) use five years post implementation (2013)?
A mixed method approach was used to answer these questions. Quantitative teacher survey data from 23 teachers who participated in 2008 and 2013 were analyzed in SAS v. 9.3. Descriptive statistics were reported and paired t-tests were conducted to determine mean differences by survey factors identified from an exploratory factor analysis, principal axis factoring, and parallel analysis conducted with teacher survey baseline data (2005). Individual teacher change scores (2008 and 2013) for identified factors were computed using the Reliable Change Index statistic. Qualitative data consisted of interviews with two district administrators and three teachers who responded to the survey in both years (2008 and 2013). Additionally, a classroom observation was conducted with one of the interviewed teachers in 2013. Qualitative analyses were conducted following the constant comparative method and were facilitated by ATLAS.ti v. 6.2, a qualitative analysis software program.
Qualitative findings identified themes at the district level that influenced teachers' use of Teaching SMART[reg] strategies. All the themes were classified as obstacles to sustainability: economic downturn, turnover of teachers and lack of hiring, new reform policies, such as Race to the Top, Student Success Act, Common Core State Standards, and mandated blocks of time for specific content. Results from the survey data showed no statistically significant difference through time in perceived instructional practices except for a perceived decrease in the use of hands-on instructional activities from 2008 to 2013. Analyses conducted at the individual teacher level found change scores were statistically significant for a few teachers, but overall, teachers reported similarly on the teacher survey at both time points.
This sustainability study revealed the lack of facilitating factors to support the continuation of reform practices; however, teachers identified strategies to continue to implement some of the reform practices through time in spite of a number of system-wide obstacles. This sustainability study adds to the literature by documenting obstacles to sustainability in this specific context, which overlap with what is known in the literature. Additionally, the strategies teachers identified to overcome some of the obstacles to implement reform practices and the recommendations by district level administrators add to the literature on how stakeholders may support sustainability of reform through time.
Scholar Commons Citation
Cotner, Bridget, "Documenting Elementary Teachers' Sustainability of Instructional Practices: A Mixed Method Case Study" (2014). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.