Date of Award

Fall 12-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Educational Administration


Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Beabout, Brian

Second Advisor

Broadhurst, Christopher

Third Advisor

Gill, Ivan


Underserved students attending under-resourced schools experience limited opportunities to engage in advanced science. An exploration into the influence a supplemental science program has on underserved students’ acquisition of science knowledge and skills to increase their pursuit of science was conducted to help explain science identity formation in students. The proliferation of supplemental science programs have emerged as a result of limited exposure and resources in science for underserved students, thus prompting further investigation into the influence supplemental science programs have on underserved students interest and motivation in science, attainment of science knowledge and skills, and confidence in science to promote science identities in students. Using a phenomenological qualitative approach, this study examined science identity formation in high school students participating in a university supplemental environmental health science program. The study explored high school students’ perceptions of their lived experiences in science supplemental activities, research, and field experiences and the influences these experiences have in relation to their science identity development. The university supplemental science program was an eight-week summer program in which students interacted with a diverse group of peers from various high schools, through engaging in environmental health science rotations, field experiences, and research with faculty advisors and graduate student mentors. Data collection included existing program evaluation data including, weekly journals and exit interviews, as well as follow-up interviews conducted several months after the program concluded. The study findings from a three step coding process of the follow-up interview transcripts provided six emerging themes as follows: (1) promoting interest and motivation to pursue new areas of science, (2) mechanisms in the acquisition of science knowledge and skills in scientific practice, (3) confidence in science knowledge and abilities, (4) understanding and applying science in the world, (5) emerging relationships with peers and mentors in science, and (6) aspirations to be a science person in the scientific community. This research study informs other supplemental science programs, has implications for improved science curricula and instruction in K12 schools, as well as explains how exposure to science experiences can help students gain identities in science.


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