Subject Area



The purpose of this study was to elicit students' voices to examine elementary science experiences to better understand foundational learning. The grounding philosophy and framework of phenomenology guided this work as I sought to capture the lived elementary science experiences of students. I administered a handwritten science autobiography to 52 middle school students at a private middle school in a suburban southwestern community. Utilizing a hermeneutic analytic approach, I learned that middle school students describe and explain elementary science experiences in many interesting ways. For example, students shared a preference for participating in hands-on, active, or engaged learning experiences over more passive forms of learning science. Students wrote favorably and in-depth about doing dissections during each elementary grade. Another important finding was the role of the teacher in the elementary science classroom. Teachers may positively or negatively influence science experiences for students. Some of the important implications for this work include social and emotional aspects of teaching and learning. Teachers can learn how instructional practices and classroom relationships influence a student’s science experience. Student benefit by personally reflecting on prior learning experiences and become empowered when they share their voices in science classrooms. School decision makers can benefit when they have robust measures of academic outcomes that include qualitative information that includes the students' perspective and tells a more complete story. And finally, the research community can benefit from new research that supports and extends studies of lived elementary science experiences using the science autobiography as a tool for eliciting student voice.

Degree Date

Summer 7-31-2023

Document Type


Degree Name



Teaching and Learning


Quentin Sedlacek

Second Advisor

Alexandra Pavlakis

Third Advisor

Amy Rouse

Fourth Advisor

Robert Tai

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License