Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


Maryanne Roesch

Committee Member

Carole Trueman


content area literacy, disciplinary literacy, literacy standards, motivation, problem-based learning, scientific teaching


This applied dissertation was designed to determine the degree to which principles of disciplinary literacy and scientific teaching were being practiced by teachers and, when these practices existed to a greater extent, whether or not there was a correlational relationship between that and the reported motivation and engagement levels of students in such science classrooms. The study took place at four independent schools. The group studied was a convenience sample. One of the schools was an international school in Korea. The other three were in the United States, in Tennessee and Missouri. The schools at which the study occurred were urban and suburban middle and high schools in upper middle class neighborhoods. The population of this study included five teachers as well as 128 science students from these four schools. Teacher participants were science teachers teaching eighth- or ninth-grade classes. Students were in the classrooms of those teachers. The researcher conducted the study to gather information to determine what differences existed when and if teachers utilized disciplinary literacy or scientific teaching in their science classrooms. Data from teachers and students were collected through self-reports about classroom practice and experience. In general, teachers’ and students’ self-reports were only minimally distinct from one another. The two groups agreed about what was being practiced in their individual classrooms and agreed about the percentage of time that events occurred. The research gave insights as to the extent to which disciplinary literacy and scientific teaching were occurring, and the results showed that these teachers spend around 54% of class time engaged in some form of active learning. Students and teachers reported that on the average day during the semester, students participated in two different types of engagement with activities that worked to enhance disciplinary literacy in science. Analysis of the data indicated that students do report higher levels of motivation and enjoyment when such teaching practices are engaged in science classrooms. Teachers proved to be more active in implementing scientific teaching than disciplinary literacy practices.

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