Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Elementary, Middle & Secondary Teacher Education

Degree Program

Curriculum and Instruction, PhD

Committee Chair

Tretter, Tom

Committee Member

Brown, Sherri

Committee Member

McFadden, Justin

Committee Member

Peters, Sue

Author's Keywords

planetarium; pre-service teachers; NGSS; informal education; modeling


This dissertation is a case study of five elementary pre-service teachers within a science methods course who attended a planetarium-enriched experience. The experience was designed and taught by an instructor with both experience and education in astronomy and with K-12 students. The focus of the planetarium experience was to teach the science content these PSTs will have to teach to their future elementary students and teach how to teach science in an NGSS-aligned way, by incorporating the Science and Engineering Practices and Crosscutting Concepts. This is a qualitative case study that relied on interviews, open-response surveys, and video prompt responses to collect the pre-service teacher perceptions of science instruction and the impacts of the planetarium-enriched experience on their learning of science, and future science instruction. The pre-service teachers were also observed in their methods class to help build the case for each interviewed student. There existed 8 remaining students who participated in all of the methods of this study but did not choose to be interviewed, but were aggregated to inform the five interviewed cases. All data was analyzed through line-by-line open coding of transcripts and surveys. The results show that the pre-service teachers felt the planetarium helped them learn science through visual modeling and physical modeling. Many of the cases described having little science background. They felt that they benefitted from the multiple representations of the Sun-Earth-Moon system for their own learning and for their learning to be future science teachers. The pre-service teachers also described the benefit of the planetarium instructor because of their experience in space science and K-12 science education. The planetarium-enriched experience helped these five elementary pre-service teachers in all three contexts of learning (physical, sociocultural, and personal). This may have led to their perceptions that the planetarium helped them learn the material for themselves, and serve as a model for NGSS-aligned instruction to look back on and attempt for themselves in their own classroom. The planetarium experience provided a tangible example of NGSS-aligned instruction and all cases described the benefit of having the experience as part of their methods course.