Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Jeong-Eun Rhee, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Frances G. Wills, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Amanda Gunning, Ph.D.


Extant literature lacks an explanation of the thought processes used by secondary school science teachers to interpret students’ scientific models that are comprised of drawing activities. In this exploratory study, a constructivist grounded theory (CGT) was developed to generate an interpretive understanding. The CGT was generated from observations, interviews, and document analyses of five research participants consisting of secondary school science teachers from lower New York State. To generate a CGT, concepts, terms, assumptions, and definitions from selected theories—decolonizing methodologies theory (DMT), visual semiotic theory (VST), and cultural studies theory (CST)—collectively provided a fresh onto-epistemological lens for initially examining and bringing transparency to the invisible influences on the intangible thought processes of science teachers when they interpret students’ scientific models. At the end of the study, a CGT was developed which is expressed as nine assertions, a diagrammatic display/axial coding paradigm, and an explanation consisting of found poetry developed from the research findings. Using reflective and reflexive analytical memos, this study revealed that the thoughts of secondary school science teachers consist of five themes: (1) direction or rules, (2) forms of communication, (3) creations (4) interpretation or understanding, and (5) problem-solving heuristics during students’ struggle. In addition, the theory illustrated that in the context of lower New York State, science disciplinary culture works by crossing borders (Aikenhead & Elliott, 2010; Carter, 2011; New York State Education Department, 2019a; Rasheed, 2001, 2006; Snively & Corsiglia, 2001) between Western cultural thoughts and non-Western/Indigenous cultural thoughts. This study will benefit both stakeholders and scholars. For stakeholders, this study offers a substantive theory for understanding the assessment practices of science teachers. For scholars, this study provides a CGT that integrates theories/subdisciplines that are epistemologically distant/close and generates ongoing research. In particular, the theory provides scholars with findings that can be used to subsequently conduct a quantitative study, whereby a culturally sensitive survey instrument can be generated and validated.