Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Elizabeth Shaunessy-Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Howard Johnston, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rebecca Burns, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kris Fox, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Teresa Greely, Ph.D.


21st Century, education, engagement, resistance, STEM


This qualitative exploratory study explored how and why teachers at four small Catholic schools in the state of Florida transformed by changing instructional methods to offer full integration of science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and mathematics (STREAM) approaches into learning experiences for grades pre-k through eight. There was a time up until the early 2000s that Catholic school enrollment was at capacity and did not require differentiation based upon unique student learning needs. However, students of current times reflect a higher need for educational approaches that are both differentiated and engaging.

“Teachers are required to teach more content and subjects to classes containing greater numbers of students with varying emotional, social, and learning” needs (Lohman, 2006, p.2). Today’s 21st century learners benefit from experiences that are inviting, interesting and meaningful. As a result, these Catholic schools sought ways to offer more meaningful academic experiences. Teacher preparedness to meet the needs of an ever-changing student population requires purposeful planning and strategic development and implementation. Without teacher preparation, not only does the learner suffer, but so too does the educator.

This qualitative exploratory study revealed how and why the teachers at these schools were able to transform the culture to a STREAM-centered school in an effort to meet the needs of the students by offering a blend of engaging instructional methods. Initially, resistance appeared as a hindrance to these changes. However, discovered was that anxiety and the sense of being overwhelmed were most often the culprit. Identified through interviews of principals, coordinators and teachers are ways to positively support change implementation processes. The findings from this case study illuminate how and why teachers changed to adopt or adapt instructional strategies to meet the needs of 21st century learners and overcome barriers to achieving this goal.

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