Elementary school, Inquiry based instruction, Low socioeconomic, Science education


This ethnographic study of emerging inquiry-based science instruction in an urban, low socioeconomic elementary school science lab was designed to gain insight into the perspectives of the teacher and students. The study involved a Central Florida elementary school whose population was over 80 percent African-American. In this six month study, the researcher examined the classroom setting of a science lab teacher and her fourth and fifth grade students during a six month period of time. Data sources included interviews, field notes, reflections, and student work , which were used to identify the emerging themes and patterns in the study. The emergent themes were grouped into two categories: the perspective of the teacher and students in the inquiry environment and the microculture of the teacher and students in that environment. The teacher’s perspectives on instructional strategies, standard based instructional guidelines, and the realities of teaching in an urban low socioeconomic setting were the major emergent themes. The students’ perspectives into environment and sense-making of elementary school students were the other major emergent themes. Chapter I provides background and the significance of the study. Chapter II provides a research of the literature surrounding inquiry-based instruction in science education. Chapter III describes the methodology, specifically the ethnographic approach to this study. A metaphoric journey down the river of perspectives in science lab classroom sets the tone for Chapter IV. This chapter provides a "view from the shore," an introduction to the general background of the elementary school. Chapter V explores the teacher perspectives, and uses vignettes to analyze instructional strategies, questioning, assessment, standards state and district guideline and the realities of teaching. Chapter VI discusses the student perspectives, and uses vignettes to analyze behaviors and actions, responsibility of learners, assessment, and ways of knowing. Chapter VII pulls together conclusions, implications, and recommendations for further research.This study contributes to the total body of research of science education in two ways: 1. It provides student and teacher perspectives on science in an urban, low socioeconomic elementary school. 2. It provides research with a teacher and student perspective of inquiry-based science instruction.


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Graduation Date





Holt, Larry


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education


Educational Studies

Degree Program

Educational Studies








Release Date

January 2014

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education; Education -- Dissertations, Academic

Included in

Education Commons