The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to describe the perceptions of elementary teachers from an urban school district in Southern California regarding their inquiry-based science instructional practices, assessment methods and professional development. The district's inquiry professional development called the California Mathematics and Science Projected, CaMSP lasted for two years. The CaMSP is a competitive grant awarded by the California Department of Education for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to schools and districts that meet the grant criteria for inquiry-based professional development. This district's professional development model was the five essential features of science inquiry recommended by the National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996). In 2007, the population of students in this district was 91% Hispanic, 8% African American, and the remainder were of other ethnicities. This district, which is about five miles radius, is located about 15 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. Twenty two of the 33 teachers, who completed the district's CaMSP project, participated in this dissertation study. The 22 teachers were grades 4 through 6 teachers from 12 elementary schools in the district. The gender make up of these teachers were 10 males and 10 females with experience ranging from 4-20 years. Data for this study were collected through online surveys (N =22) and face to face structured interviews (n = 10). Results suggested that teachers used questioning, explanations, and experimentation during science instruction. They also used experiment and lab to assess students' science performance. Expert knowledge of the professional developers helped the teachers to understand inquiry-based strategies. Some of these teachers recommended the inclusion of more district teachers, in future inquiry-based training. These teachers did not practice inquiry as they would have liked to. The reason for this shortfall included the reduction of science instructional time to increase instructional time for English language arts and mathematics. Other deterrents to science inquiry implementation by these teachers included lack of funding for instructional materials, and lack of support from the school administrators.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Leadership, administration, and policy; Education, Elementary -- California -- Evaluation; Science -- Study and teaching; Teachers -- Training of

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Barner, Robert;