ERIC Number: ED444846
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1999-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
Influences on Teachers' Curricular Choices in Project-Based Science Classrooms.
Laba, Karen A.; Abrams, Eleanor
Teachers play a major role in the creation of student learning experiences. Conventional wisdom suggests that teachers' knowledge, beliefs and values influence their instructional choices. However, attempts to describe the decision-making process have yielded inconclusive results. Analysis of the beliefs, intentions, and actions of two exemplary science teachers using a project approach to teaching revealed consistent themes that suggest instructional practices are guided by teachers' implicit conceptions. The research project used a naturalistic design to examine teachers' beliefs, and actions in context. Data were gathered about teachers' beliefs using an adaptation of the Conceptions of Teaching Science Protocol (Hewson, Kerby, and Cook, 1995). An interview about instances served as a probe of teachers' beliefs about the ideal goals of project-based science. Teachers' oral and written instructions to students provided information about their intentions to promote a particular science program, and classroom observations and assessment instruments became the source of data about teachers' actions. Statements from each of these sources was classified and grouped, then examined for the presence of common themes. The themes were summarized as a description of the teachers' conceptions and examined by the participants to affirm its authenticity. As a result of this analysis, two teachers with different explicit beliefs about science teaching produced remarkably similar learning experiences for their students. Despite important differences in school culture, demographics and philosophy of teaching, these veteran science teachers created variations on the project-based approach to science that offer students rich experiences consistent with the recommendations of major reform documents. The value of the study comes from its illumination of a process that can elicit meaningful insight into the influences underlying the origin of classroom events. The potential for effective modification of instructional practices is enhanced by a clearer understanding of teachers' role in the creation of curriculum. (Contains 25 references.) (Author/YDS)
Descriptors: Attitudes, Curriculum Development, Decision Making, Elementary Secondary Education, Learning Experience, Pedagogical Content Knowledge, Science Instruction, Science Teachers, Teacher Role
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Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (Boston, MA, March 28-31, 1999).