The relationship between the teacher's experience, the teacher's college major, and the teacher's level of education in predicting classroom attitudes in high school science students

Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor's Name

Luis A. Martinez-Perez

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Stephen M. Fain

Third Advisor's Name

Barry Greenberg

Fourth Advisor's Name

Martin L. Tracey

Date of Defense



A review of the literature reveals few research has attempted to demonstrate if a relationship exists between the type of teacher training a science teacher has received and the perceived attitudes of his/her students. Considering that a great deal of time and energy has been devoted by university colleges, school districts, and educators towards refining the teacher education process, it would be more efficient for all parties involved, if research were available that could discern if certain pathways in achieving that education, would promote the tendency towards certain teacher behaviors occurring in the classroom, while other pathways would lead towards different behaviors. Some of the teacher preparation factors examined in this study include the college major chosen by the science teacher, the highest degree earned, the number of years of teaching experience, the type of science course taught, and the grade level taught by the teacher. This study examined how the various factors mentioned, could influence the behaviors which are characteristic of the teacher, and how these behaviors could be reflective in the classroom environment experienced by the students.

The instrument used in the study was the Classroom Environment Scale (CES), Real Form. The measured classroom environment was broken down into three separate dimensions, with three components within each dimension in the CES. Multiple Regression statistical analyses examined how components of the teachers' education influenced the perceived dimensions of the classroom environment from the students.

The study occurred in Miami-Dade County Florida, with a predominantly urban high school student population. There were 40 secondary science teachers involved, each with an average of 30 students. The total number of students sampled in the study was 1200. The teachers who participated in the study taught the entire range of secondary science courses offered at this large school district. All teachers were selected by the researcher so that a balance would occur in the sample between teachers who were education major versus science major. Additionally, the researcher selected teachers so that a balance occurred in regards to the different levels of college degrees earned among those involved in the study.

Several research questions sought to determine if there was significant difference between the type of the educational background obtained by secondary science teachers and the students' perception of the classroom environment. Other research questions sought to determine if there were significant differences in the students' perceptions of the classroom environment for secondary science teachers who taught biological content, or non-biological content sciences. An additional research question sought to evaluate if the grade level taught would affect the students' perception of the classroom environment. Analysis of the multiple regression were run for each of four scores from the CES, Real Form. For score 1, involvement of students, the results showed that teachers with the highest number of years of experience, with masters or masters plus degrees, who were education majors, and who taught twelfth grade students, had greater amounts of students being attentive and interested in class activities, participating in discussions, and doing additional work on their own, as compared with teachers who had lower experience, a bachelors degree, were science majors, and who taught a grade lower than twelfth. For score 2, task orientation, which emphasized completing the required activities and staying on-task, the results showed that teachers with the highest and intermediate experience, a science major, and with the highest college degree, showed higher scores as compared with the teachers indicating lower experiences, education major and a bachelors degree. For Score 3, competition, which indicated how difficult it was to achieve high grades in the class, the results showed that teachers who taught non-biology content subjects had the greatest effect on the regression. Teachers with a masters degree, low levels of experience, and who taught twelfth grade students were also factored into the regression equation. For Score 4, innovation, which indicated the extent in which the teachers used new and innovative techniques to encourage diverse and creative thinking included teachers with an education major as the first entry into the regression equation. Teachers with the least experience (0 to 3 years), and teachers who taught twelfth and eleventh grade students were also included into the regression equation.



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