Year of Publication

2016

Season of Publication

Summer

Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)

Department

Leadership, School Counseling & Sport Management

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Leadership, School Counseling & Sports Management

First Advisor

Dr. Chris Janson

Second Advisor

Dr. Kim Cheek

Third Advisor

Dr. Brian Zoellner

Fourth Advisor

Dr. David Waddell

Department Chair

Dr. Chris Janson

College Dean

Dr. Marsha Lupi

Abstract

Science teachers have a unique place in education due to their academic discipline and the fact that the public ties teacher accountability to student performance. One major measure of teacher accountability in the State of Florida is the end of course examinations (EOC). The purpose of this study was to examine selected high school Biology teachers’ perceptions about how their instructional practices have been affected by the administering of an EOC in comparison to other high school science teachers who are not required to administer an EOC. The overriding research question for this study was: What are the perceptions of selected high school science teachers whose students are subject to an EOC, as well as those whose students are not subject to an EOC? This qualitative study used a grounded theory, phenomenological approach to first elicit the perceptions of selected science teachers regarding how their instructional practices have been affected by the implementation of an EOC. These perceptions were examined within the context of other science teachers in the same school who were not subject to EOCs. Emergent understandings of these teachers’ perceptions were then used to build a theoretical understanding of the phenomena surrounding their construction.

The sites for this research are science departments from high schools in a mid-sized central Florida school district. This research was accomplished by gathering data from preliminary surveys with open-ended responses, then followed up with more in-depth interviews constructed from the initial survey responses. Key findings from this study were the teachers’ need to cope with the pressure of time constraints on their instruction and working within the curriculum map as mandated by the county offices. Additionally, results of this study also indicated that teacher accountability and the pressures it engenders to increase student achievement are more pronounced for those teachers administering EOCs, who subsequently believe student learning is diminished. Importantly, teachers of subjects that include EOCs in this study themselves expressed understandings that these accountability pressures distorted their teaching practices to focus more on less cognitively complex classroom learning activities such as fact-based questions than their non-EOC teacher counterparts, although they knew these approaches to be less effective. Although this phenomenon of the unintended consequences of EOCs has been explored before, this study highlighted it from the vantage of teachers who were aware of its occurrence, but felt powerless to stop it.

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