Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2016

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 02/23/2019

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Teaching and Learning

First Advisor

David Rethwisch

Second Advisor

Mark McDermott

First Committee Member

Brian Hand

Second Committee Member

Renita Schmidt

Third Committee Member

Gavin Fulmer


The purpose of the study aimed at gaining a better understanding of how the intended Project Lead the Way (PLTW) curriculum differs from the enacted curricula and what factors impact this. This understanding is important to make the professional development program more meaningful to the immediate needs of the teacher in the classroom. Identifying the factors that contribute to any emerging differences between the curricula helped fill the gap in research on teacher knowledge and beliefs about the use of science and mathematics content in the PLTW classroom. PLTW is an innovative hands-on pre-engineering curriculum designed for K-12 students based on project-based and problem-based learning. It tries to combine math and science principles to present engineering concepts to students in a way that tries to keep up with the rapid changes associated with technology in their everyday world. Multiple case sampling was used to select four teachers based on their years of teaching experience as well as background in science and math. They were interviewed about their knowledge and beliefs about project and problem-based learning. In addition, non-participant observations and teacher beliefs questionnaires were used to triangulate the data for more credible results. A fidelity of implementation rubric was also used to determine how well the teachers were implementing the curriculum. Findings of the study show that there were differences in the way teachers chose to enact the curriculum that were heavily influenced by the curriculum materials, the professional development training and their own personal beliefs about how the curriculum should be enacted. A conceptual model is developed that aims at improving the professional development experiences for the teachers that considers their beliefs.


Fidelity of Implementation, interdisciplinary learning, professional development, STEM literacy, Teacher beliefs, Teacher knowledge


xii, 236 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 183-200).


Copyright © 2016 Mary Nyaema

Available for download on Saturday, February 23, 2019