Pedagogy vs. Reality: An Investigation of Supports and Barriers when Implementing NGSS Storylines



curriculum adoption, instructional change, Next Generation Science Standards, phenomenon-based instruction, storylining, professional learning


Over the course of a two-year curriculum field test study that implemented a curriculum-based professional learning framework, we investigated the factors that influenced teachers’ willingness and ability to implement NGSS-aligned, phenomenon-based storylines for teaching the nature of science, evolution, and climate change. Through qualitative data collected from interviews and lesson evaluation surveys from 25 middle and high school science teachers, we identified potential implementation barriers and support structures relating to organizational culture as well as curriculum and instruction at the classroom, school, community, and systemic levels. The data indicate that lack of administrative support, time constraints, difficulty with student sense-making, and mismatched classrooms are the largest barriers to implementation, while curriculum-based professional learning including working through the lessons from a student perspective, peer collaboration, autonomy, and flexibility were the largest predictors of successful implementation. Administrators can play a large role in providing successful supports and removing barriers for teachers implementing NGSS-aligned, phenomenon-based lessons.

Author Biographies

  • Blake Touchet, National Center for Science Education
    Teacher Support Partnership Specialist
  • Diane Wright, Colorado State University
    Department of Biology Assistant Professor
  • Lin Andrews, National Center for Science Education
    Director of Teacher Support


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