University of Missouri - Saint Louis

The Graduate School


An oral examination in defense of the dissertation for the degree

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Glenda M. McCarty
M.A. in Library Information Studies, May 2002, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
B.S.E. in Education, May 1995, Southeast Missouri State University

Family Science: An Ethnographic Case Study of the Daily Science and Literacy Experiences of one Family



Despite the amount of research available on science learning, little is known about ways in which the public engages in free-choice science learning. Furthermore, even less research is present on how families engage in science to learn about the world around them. Historically, little was known about family and early literacy development in the home. Henceforth, many research projects have documented the literacy happenings of young children in natural settings, such as the home. Findings from intensive emergent literacy research studies (Bissex, 1980; Heath, 1983; White, 1984) have challenged traditional approaches to the teaching and learning of literacy, especially drawing attention to the active role children take in learning. Drawing upon those early literacy studies, this research project uses ethnographic case study methods along with a naturalistic inquiry approach to document the daily explorations of one science-oriented family. Over a three year span, I have followed my family, in our natural setting, through our day to day experiences with science and literacy and the world around us. In doing so, I have explored the ways we have shared knowledge and constructed learning through science books and read alouds, self-initiated inquiry learning, and communication. Throughout the three year research period, I have collected data and documented that my own young children are capable of engaging in the nature of science by observing the world around them. I have initiated an interesting study in science learning but more research is needed at this critical time in our history.


Date: October 11, 2012

Time: 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Place: E. Desmond Lee Technology and Learning Center


Defense of Dissertation Committee


E. Wendy Saul, Ph.D. (Advisor)

Phyllis Balcerzak, Ph.D.


Joseph L. Polman, Ph.D.

Alina Slapac, Ph.D.


Alina Slapac, Ph.D.