Date of Award

Spring 2001

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Steve Tonelson

Committee Member

Linda Bol

Committee Member

M. L. Manning


Studies conducted nationwide over the past several decades point consistently to the evidence that American school children lag behind several other countries in science scores. Problems arise from this dilemma, including the question of the ability of our youngsters to compete nationally and globally in the sciences as adults. Current research in this area of scores currently studies mostly mathematics. The few studies conducted concerning science mainly highlight students in other countries and neglects minorities and females regarding outcomes.

By contrast, this study investigated the effects of teacher types (also defined as teaching styles or classroom orientation) on student outcomes on two measures; the standardized Standards of Learning 8th grade science test for the state of Virginia, and the Higher-Order Skills test (Berube, 2001), which was a researcher-constricted comprehension measurement. Minority and gender interactions were analyzed as well. Teacher type was designated by using the Constructivist Learning Environment Survey (Taylor & Fraser, 1991). Participants included students from five large urban middle schools and thirteen middle school science teachers. Scores from the two measures were used to determine differences in student outcomes as they pertained to teacher type, gender and ethnicity.

Analysis indicated that students who were taught by teachers with more traditional and mixed teaching styles performed better on the Higher-Order Skills comprehension measurement, while teachers with constructivist teaching styles actually had the lowest scoring students. Also, the interaction of ethnicity and teacher type was significant, indicating that Higher-Order Skills scores were influenced by that interaction, with Caucasians scoring the highest when taught by teachers with mixed teaching styles.

Such findings could profit school administrators considering the interaction of student achievement and teaching styles on high-stakes testing environments. Suggestions are made for future studies concerning females and minorities in these same environments.


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