Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-11-2022


This practitioner action research study explored features of NGSS-based pedagogies to improve secondary education student engagement, critical thinking, and collaborative problem-solving. It examined ways that constructivist pedagogies might encourage students to understand science by putting their skills and knowledge into practice as young engineers. The study involved 51 secondary education students from a large district in the southwest and focused on how NGSS inquiry-based learning can improve scientific understanding and skills within group work, the role that teacher support and modeling can play in learning, and how peer interactions can influence their scientific identities. Qualitative findings from teacher observations, classwork artifacts, surveys, pre/post-tests, and Google Form responses provided a context for understanding student growth and changes in their science identities as they interfaced with the engineering design process. Using narratives and questioning techniques during the engagement part of 5E lessons provided opportunities for students to retain content information and the application of science in the real world. NGSS hands-on and technology-based activities contributed to flexible grouping activities that motivated students to learn science. Within these groupings, students collaborated with one another, presented their work, and were recognized for their contributions. In general, most students reported improvement in their learning of science concepts by self-discovery which strengthened their science identities. This study can provide in-service and pre-service science teachers with much-needed examples of how they might employ NGSS recommendations. Additionally, these examples can provide science educators with strategies for working with pre-service teachers to improve their confidence in teaching scientific concepts.


Teacher Education, Next Generation Science Standards, Engineering Design, Narrative Teaching, Mutual Trust, Science Identity

Document Type




Degree Name

Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education

Level of Degree


Department Name

Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy

First Committee Member (Chair)

Leila Flores-Duenas

Second Committee Member

Tito Busani

Third Committee Member

Deena Lee Gould

Fourth Committee Member

Rebecca Sánchez

Fifth Committee Member

Kathryn Watkins