Date of Award

Fall October 2013

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Shane P. Martin

Second Advisor

Karen K. Huchting

Third Advisor

Eric Strauss


Improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education has become a national priority and the call to modernize secondary science has been heard. A Physics First (PF) program with the curriculum sequence of physics, chemistry, and biology (PCB) driven by inquiry- and project-based learning offers a viable alternative to the traditional curricular sequence (BCP) and methods of teaching, but requires more empirical evidence. This study determined impact of a PF program (PF-PCB) on math achievement (SAT math scores) after the first two cohorts of students completed the PF-PCB program at Matteo Ricci High School (MRHS) and provided more quantitative data to inform the PF debate and advance secondary science education. Statistical analysis (ANCOVA) determined the influence of covariates and revealed that PF-PCB program had a significant (p < .05) impact on SAT math scores in the second cohort at MRHS. Statistically adjusted, the SAT math means for PF students were 21.4 points higher than their non-PF counterparts when controlling for prior math achievement (HSTP math), socioeconomic status (SES), and ethnicity/race.