Examining teacher beliefs and agency upon implementation of culturally responsive pedagogy and the engineering design process
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The instructional practices of the engineering design process and culturally responsive pedagogy have each garnered national attention through multiple decades of research. The findings from the literature associated with each field urge educators and policy-makers to integrate the pedagogical constructs in K-12 instruction. There is a significant amount of research that supports the positive student outcomes associated with each approach. Moreover, scholars have argued that the implications of immersion for each construct within science and mathematics content include heightened student engagement and improved academic achievement. Still, there remains a lack of literature that addresses the beliefs and agency of teachers upon enactment of these critical practices in their content areas. The movement around educational reform is rooted in teachers serving as learners. However, understanding how teachers learn and respond to reform is largely overlooked. Accordingly, this dissertation study is grounded under the assertion that it is of great significance to examine the way in which teachers perceive and define new pedagogical approaches upon implementation. The author explores how, and in what ways, are secondary mathematics and science teacher pedagogical beliefs and sense of agency related to the integration of the engineering design process and culturally responsive pedagogy within their content curricula. The core properties of agentic behaviors, rooted in social cognitive theory, include: intentionality, forethought, self-reactiveness, and self-reflection. The author utilized a comparative multiple case study design using an embedded mixed methods approach, allowing for the qualitative and quantitative data to be collected and analyzed concurrently. The data collected allowed for case analysis for each teacher along with cross-case analysis between the teachers. These cases represent experiences of the select secondary math and science teachers enrolled an NSF funded five-year, fellowship program inclusive of a master’s degree in STEM education and professional development. The findings from this study add to the significant gap in literature surrounding how teachers perceive the engineering design process and culturally responsive pedagogy. The self-reported pedagogical beliefs suggest a synergistic relationship between the two constructs. The participating teachers expressed a strong preference towards the enactment of a culturally responsive engineering design process. Furthermore, the agentic behaviors examined contribute to the literature on the defining categories and assertions about teachers theorized as change agents. The research also suggests that teacher agency is driven primarily by the pursuit of positive student outcomes. Overall, the findings documented offer valuable recommendations for teacher educators, professional development providers, policy-makers, and researchers. The results from this research underscore the importance of empowering teachers with professional development that is shaped and informed by their beliefs and experiences.