Date of Award

Spring 4-22-2022

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Elizabeth Hufnagel

Second Committee Member

Asli Sezen-Barrie

Third Committee Member

Rebecca Buchanan

Additional Committee Members

Jade McNamara

Gail Richmond


In-service teachers of science work with unique content and pedagogical experiences. Understanding teacher agency in these circumstances will help researchers understand the actions that these teachers take, actions that are consequential for shaping teaching patterns and supporting the development of students’ scientific practices. The purpose of this study was to understand how the agency of six elementary (K–5) in-service teachers was expressed discursively during a global pandemic. The teachers’ agency was qualitatively analyzed using a case study approach (Yin, 2012, 2017) that applied discourse analysis to identify the ways in which science teacher agency is conceptualized, afforded, and constrained through consequential saying, being, and doing (Gee, 2010) within elementary classrooms. I found that elementary science teachers conceptualize and operationalize their agency in service to the student, thus, deprioritizing their own needs as teaching professionals. The teachers have a clear sense of agency, primarily framed by a structure-agency dialectic, the scale of expression is their classroom. I also found that centering the teacher voice during the research process increased teachers’ reflexivity about their professional agency. Recommendations are addressed including future considerations of in-service K-5 teacher agency in science education research.