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ERIC Number: ED533274
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 191
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1094-6336-1
ISSN: N/A
Elementary Teachers' Perceptions of Science Inquiry and Professional Development Challenges and Opportunities
Jones, Kathleen M.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University
Inquiry science, including a focus on evidence-based discourse, is essential to spark interest in science education in the early grades and maintain that interest throughout children's schooling. The researcher was interested in two broad areas: inquiry science in the elementary classroom and the need/desire for professional development opportunities for elementary teachers related to science education, and specifically professional development focused on inquiry science. A cross sectional survey design was prepared and distributed in May 2005 and usable responses were received from 228 elementary teachers from the south-central area of Pennsylvania which was a representative sample of socio-economical and geographical factors. Areas of particular interest in the results section include: (1) The use of Science Kits which is popular, but may not have the desired impact since they are "adjusted" by teachers often removing the opportunity for evidence-based discourse by the students. This may be partly based on the lack of time dedicated to science instruction and, secondly, the teachers' lack of comfort with the science topics. Another issue arising from science kits is the amount of preparation time required to utilize them. (2) Teachers demonstrated understanding of the high qualities of professional development but, when it came to science content professional development, they were more inclined to opt for short-term opportunities as opposed to long-term learning opportunities. Since elementary teachers are generalists and most schools are not focusing on science, the lack of attention to a subject where they are least comfortable is understandable, but disappointing. (3) There is a great need for more training in evidence-based discourse so teachers can implement this needed skill and increase students' understanding of science content so they are more able to compete in the international science and math measurements. (4) Professional development, especially in the science area, needs to be a long-term, grass-roots effort in all schools. We need to dedicate funding, and make time available for teachers to participate in long-term collaborative learning opportunities. Teachers want to observe each other and collaborate on lessons but, unless it becomes a priority of the school, it will not happen. Time must be dedicated throughout the day that allows small groups of teachers across the board to get together and share, learn, attempt new approaches, reflect and revise. Various forms of professional learning are available, and each school must choose the one that works for them. (5) The principal as the educational leader in the school needs to be more fully engaged with the learning process of the teachers and the students. The principal should not be viewed only as the evaluator of teachers, but as a collaborator of learning and teaching. Suggestions for further research include longitudinal studies of the impact on students of long term professional development of the teachers that specifically targets science content, inquiry and evidence-based discourse. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page: http://www.proquest.com/en-US/products/dissertations/individuals.shtml.]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site: http://www.proquest.com/en-US/products/dissertations/individuals.shtml
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania