Examining Middle School Teacher Perceptions of the Next Generation Science Standards: A Qualitative Study
Science education in the US entered a period of reform in 2011 with the development and implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The NGSS have subsequently been adopted in 18 states. School districts within these states are in the process of adjusting science curricula to align with the academic expectations described by the standards. Science teachers’ perceptions have implications for the kinds of inquiry-based teaching employed in science classrooms. This dissertation examines middle school science teachers’ perceptions of the NGSS. The research questions designed for this study address teachers’ perceptions of (1) the ‘seven conceptual shifts’ proposed by the NGSS, (2) the resources and support systems provided for NGSS implementation, and (3) challenges to implementing the NGSS. A constructivist grounded theory methodology was used to explore these research questions. Data were collected from surveys and semi-structured interviews with teachers, and actual science lessons used by teachers. Teachers’ perceptions of the NGSS were mostly consistent with the seven conceptual shifts expected during NGSS implementation. Sustained, relevant, professional development, collaboration with colleagues, availability of NGSS aligned resources, and flexible learner-centered classrooms were among the things teachers reported to be most beneficial during NGSS implementation. Teachers also reported barriers to implementation, including confusion regarding the organization of the standards, varying interpretations of the standards, insufficient time for proper implementation, and science teachers’ personal expectations. This study provides insights regarding how pre-service educators, education leaders, and policymakers can best support middle school science teachers in implementing the NGSS.
Next Generation Science Standards