Elementary Science Specialists and Classroom Generalists: Are There Differences in Science Instruction, Student Achievement, and Cost?

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

This study will examine and compare the instruction of classroom generalists to that of science specialists to determine the degree to which there are meaningful differences in the quantity and quality of science instruction provided; whether differences in instruction are associated with student outcomes; and the financial and human resources each model requires. The findings generated by this study will inform the research community where investigations of these questions have not yet been undertaken; and policy makers at the state, district, and school levels as they make decisions about how to allocate limited resources in order to provide the best science instruction possible.


This study will take place in an urban district in the northeast United States, and will focus on 4th and 5th grade students and the teachers who provide them with science instruction.

Research Design: 

The research design for this project is cross-sectional, and is designed to generate data which is descriptive (observational) and associative and/or correlational (quasi-experimental). This project will compare the quality, quantity, and cost of science instruction provided by classroom generalists, science specialists, and a model that incorporates both roles. This project collects original data using school records or policy documents; assessments of learning and achievement tests; personal observation; structured interview-administered questionnaire (face-to-face, computer assisted interview and telephone); and face-to-face and telephone semi-structured interviews.

Student scores on the FOSS curriculum’s unit assessments and the state’s standardized science test will be used to estimate student learning. District and school budget data will be used to contribute to the estimates of cost-effectiveness. Science kit inventories will be used to contribute to measuring the quantity and quality of science instruction provided. Student demographic data and teacher qualification and employment data will be used descriptively and as covariates in models science teaching and learning.

A variety of analyses methods will be used according to the research question of interest. Methods will include multi-level modeling, logistic and linear regressions, ANOVA and MANOVA, and analysis of categorical variables, and descriptive statistics.


Findings will be uploaded as they become available.