Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Jamison D Fargo


Jamison D. Fargo


Karl R. White


James Dorward


Rebecca M. Monhardt


Maria C. Norton


Previous literature leaves us unanswered questions about whether teaching behaviors mediate the relationship between teacher education level and experience with student science achievement. This study examined this question with 655 students from sixth to eighth grade and their 12 science teachers. Student science achievements were measured at the beginning and end of 2006-2007 school year. Given the cluster sampling of students nested in classrooms, which are nested in teachers, a two-level multilevel model was employed to disentangle the effects from teacher-level and student-level factors. Several findings were discovered in this study. Science teachers possessing of advanced degrees in science or education significantly and positively influenced student science achievement. However, years of teaching experience in science did not directly influence student science achievement. A significant interaction was detected between teachers possessing an advanced degree in science or education and years of teaching science, which was inversely associated to student science achievement. Better teaching behaviors were also positively related to student achievement in science directly, as well as mediated the relationship between student science achievement and both teacher education and experience. Additionally, when examined separately, each teaching behavior variable (teacher engagement, classroom management, and teaching strategies) served as a significant intermediary between both teacher education and experience and student science achievement. The findings of this study are intended to provide insights into the importance of hiring and developing qualified teachers who are better able to help students achieve in science, as well as to direct the emphases of ongoing teacher inservice training.



Additional Files

DanhuiZhang_dissertation_coverpage.pdf (14 kB)
Dissertation Cover Page

DanhuiZhang_dissertation_appendix.pdf (34 kB)
Dissertation Appendix