Date of Award



© 2018 Erica L. McNeil

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Michelle Collay

Second Advisor

Andrew Ross

Third Advisor

Christopher Clouet


Grouping students for learning has historically been debated among educational professionals. Twenty-first century skills encourage students to work together within their classrooms in preparation for future careers. Adopting Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) has required educators to encourage collaboration among students for science learning. Understanding the implications of student groupings and differentiated instructional strategies on learning requires an important conversation for educators who strive to support all learners needs sufficiently and prepare them for their future. This qualitative study examines and describes the perceptions of teachers regarding the role of educational student groupings on student learning of science concepts. Ten middle school science teachers participated in one-to-one interviews to gather data. Results indicate teachers group students with a purpose to collectively learn in a collaborative environment as well as a way to maximum their time and resources. Grouping was found to be most efficient when students were working together cooperatively as engaged participants, free from behavioral distractions and supported with special education staff when needed. NGSS influenced classroom instruction by aligning curricular standards and introducing a high level of inquiry, collaboration and twenty-first century skills. These findings support the need for educational grouping professional development for science teachers to strengthen their understanding and practice within the classroom. This study’s findings informs teachers and school leaders as they strive to respond to requirements for educational groupings outlined by Next Generation Science Standards and 21st century skills.


Ed.D. Dissertation