Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


First Advisor

Julie Thomas

Second Advisor

Stephanie Wessels

Date of this Version



Mittelstet, T. J. (2020). An evaluative study of the rural elementary teachers' perspective on the partnership between rural public elementary schools and Nebraska Extension (Doctoral dissertation). University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies (Teaching, Curriculum, and Learning), Under the Supervision of Professors Julie Thomas and Stephanie Wessels. Lincoln, Nebraska: November, 2020

Copyright © 2020 Tammera J. Mittelstet


Science education reform is a new reality for Elementary Teachers who have found themselves in a paradigm shift as Nebraska implements its NCCRS-S standards. This reform and implementation process might benefit from the support of Nebraska Extension. The purpose of this evaluative study was twofold: (a) determine elementary teachers' awareness, current use, and future recommendations regarding extension resources in Nebraska’s rural elementary schools and (b) inform guidelines for future development of community partnerships and distribution of Nebraska Extension resources for elementary science instruction.

Data for this study was gathered using Qualtrics and was analyzed with SPSS version 27 software. The semi-structured survey instrument, Teachers and Community Partnership Survey (created and used for the first time in this study) collected responses through an online distributed email to rural teachers in the state of Nebraska. These teacher participants met an ARCGIS sampling method determined by the definition of rural established by Devore-Wedding (2016) and the criteria of the rural school location within 20 miles of a Nebraska Extension County office.

The analysis of survey responses determined that 89.6% of rural Nebraska teachers were aware of Nebraska Extension, 70% of teachers had a vision for future partnerships with Nebraska Extension, and 70% also provided reasons they were interested in partnering with Nebraska Extension for elementary science instruction. The data further revealed that efforts to strengthen the partnerships might focus on improved communications and recommended NCCRS-S standards’ connections to Nebraska Extension resources. The knowledge gained from this study can be expected to advance the science reform movement for elementary science in rural Nebraska schools and to inform university extension programming nationwide.

Advisors: Julie Thomas and Stephanie Wessels