Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Mary Corey


The goal of this study is to identify the extent to which professional development influences the implementation of constructivist science teaching. An overview of the theory of constructivism leads to an explanation of how the theory is adapted to teaching methodologies in science classrooms. Science education, constructivist teaching practices, and professional development in the United States of America and Finland are compared in order to assess how professional development affects a teacher’s ability to use constructivist teaching methods effectively in science classrooms. Research confirms that professional development can positively impact teacher epistemology when given opportunities to increase science content knowledge by participating in constructivist learning environments.

Further analysis shows that professional development and teaching science constructively are only two factors contributing to Finland’s consistent educational success; there are many other factors that must be considered in order to successfully reform science education. What Finland continues to show America is that their students succeed because education is valued by students, parents, and the community; similarly, teachers are respected and trusted with students’ education and the curriculum implemented. Teachers are professionals with the knowledge, hands-on experience, and management skills that should be considered when implementing national standards and developing curriculum. Finland values and trusts teacher contribution in education; teachers in America should be extended the same opportunities in order to increase student success in science education.