Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


This study identified and ranked impediments to teaching elementary school science perceived by elementary teachers in south-central Minnesota, examined impediments for common roots, compared current impediments to findings of a 1977 National Science Foundation study, and investigated if the survey device used affected the results obtained in a study.

Public and private elementary school teachers in southcentral Minnesota were surveyed using one of two forms. Survey 1 was a list of impediments generated by 34 teachers and ranked by 104 teachers. Survey 2, administered to 218 teachers, was a revised questionnaire developed by consultation of teachers and other knowledgeable professionals and utilized nationwide in a 1977 NSF study.

This study showed that the perceived seriousness of an impediment varies with grade level taught and with the survey form used. The top impediments (K-6) using the teachergenerated form were: 1. Inadequate time to assemble, set up, or clean up lab exercises. 2. Prep time inadequate. 3. Equipment incomplete or inadequate. 4. Not enough time to teach all units (safety, ecology, etc.). 5. No time to develop units. These impediments related to time pressures (1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th) and finances (3rd).

The top impediments using the cooperatively generated NSF form were: 1. Lack of materials for individualizing instruction. 2. Inadequate facilities. 3. Insufficient funds for purchasing equipment and supplies. 4. Lack of teacher planning time. 5. Not enough time to teach science. These impediments related to finances (1st, 3rd), facilities (2nd) and time pressures (4th, 5th).

Comparison of Survey 2 results to those obtained in 1977 showed 6 of 18, K-3 and 12 of 18, 4-6 impediments were not significantly different (chi square p < .05).

The research indicated a need to temper teaching demands and include preparation periods for elementary teachers, design schools to facilitate teaching science including storage areas and set-up space, include science as a basic subject with sufficient budgets, improve and require science background and inservice courses, and conduct longitudinal studies using the same survey device to aid comparison of results. Finally, two areas, teacher job requirements/personality traits and sex bias, need to be investigated as major underlying impediments to teaching elementary science.