Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Dana L. Zeidler, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert F. Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Margaret Krause, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer R. Wolgemuth, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Judith S. Lederman, Ph.D.


Communities of Practice, Elementary Education, Science Teacher development, qualitative multicase study, socioscientific issues


Instruction focused around socioscientific issues (SSI) has been found to improve skills for scientific literacy among K – 12 students. Unfortunately, teachers and preservice teachers are reluctant to implement SSI during science instruction due to a lack of self-efficacy or fear of the nature of controversial issues. In response to this obstacle, many researchers have begun work with helping preservice teachers become prepared to facilitate SSI. While there are findings from existing research that contribute to the overall state of preparing preservice teachers to facilitate SSI, perhaps the most influential is the assertion that preservice teachers need formal SSI training in order to be prepared to effectively implement them in the classroom. The purpose of this multiple case study is to prepare elementary preservice teacher participants to develop and facilitate science lessons that include SSI. Research questions I explored are: (1) How do elementary preservice teachers experience engaging with aspects of socioscientific issues?; (1a) How do elementary preservice teachers experience aspects of socioscientific issues during community of practice meetings?; (1b) How do elementary preservice teachers experience aspects of socioscientific issues while enacting science lessons?; (2) What do elementary preservice teachers identify as important in terms of affecting their instructional decision-making?; and (3) Which aspects of socioscientific issues are observed as elementary preservice teachers facilitate socioscientific issues lessons? In this study, I utilized community of practice (CoP) meetings to deliver formal SSI training to five elementary level preservice teachers as they planned and enacted SSI lessons during their final internship. During a series of six CoP meetings, preservice teachers worked collaboratively as they developed their understanding of aspects of SSI (NOS, perspective taking, argumentation, empathetic concerns, and moral/ethical considerations) and develop multi-day SSI lessons. Data sources included recorded and transcribed CoP meetings, participant diaries, observations, and recorded and transcribed semi-structured interviews. Data were analyzed using coding techniques to derive patterns and themes, which informed detailed individual participant descriptions and commonalities from cross-case analysis. Implications for how science education researchers and science teacher educators may use the information revealed in this study are discussed.