Date of Award

Spring 4-9-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Marv Abrams

Second Advisor

Dr, Elizabeth Blanco

Third Advisor

Dr. John Halverson


Purpose: The purpose of this mixed methods study was to examine the engagement of Hispanic Advanced Placement science learners in California’s Central Valley as perceived by high school teachers.

Methodology: The mixed method study surveyed 20 Advanced Placement science teachers from the region of interest. Likert surveys were used to determine: 1) their perceptions of the engagement of Hispanic students by the AP Program, and 2) barriers presented by the AP Program. Quantitative results indicated teacher support for the AP Program and few barriers as currently administered. A focus group of 12 teachers recruited from the 20 surveyed provided qualitative data which gave depth to the study and suggested changes in program practices to inform future teaching.

Findings: Participants perceived that the AP Program promotes engagement and learning in high school science classrooms and does not present significant barriers to Hispanic science students’ access to the curriculum, learning or course completion. Some changes in practice to improve the AP Program were suggested.

Conclusions: Current AP Program practice meets the needs of Hispanic science learners in the region studied but would benefit from increased science offerings and recruitment in elementary school. Participants indicated that AP Program could be improved if there are more students participating in the Advancement Via Individual Determination vii Program in both middle and high school thereby equipping them with the skills to be successful. Targeted support for Hispanic learners at the high school level, particularly those who struggle with the vocabulary demands of AP science was suggested.

Recommendations: A number of studies were suggested that may build on this research project. Among them, surveying Hispanic AP teachers, studying the differences in the level of rigor practiced by AP teachers, and differences between data obtained from the focus group as compared with data from the surveys only. Participants indicated the role of parents on many levels. This may indicate the opportunity to study parent and other family member role models as pertains to college attainment. Differences in AP offerings would be another area for study.