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ERIC Number: ED540658
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 385
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-2672-1568-0
ISSN: N/A
K-5 Mentor Teachers' Journeys toward Reform-Oriented Science within a Professional Development School Context
Manno, Jacqueline L.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University
Reform-oriented science teaching with a specific focus on evidence and explanation provides a student-centered learning environment which encourages children to question, seek answers to those questions, experience phenomena, share ideas, and develop explanations of science concepts based on evidence. One of the ways schools have risen to meet the challenge of ever-increasing demands for success in science and all other curricular areas has been in the development of professional development schools (PDSs). Dedicated to the simultaneous renewal of schools and teacher education programs, the structure of a PDS plays a significant role in the change process. The purpose of this research study was to investigate the nature of change in mentor teachers' beliefs and pedagogical practices toward science teaching in the elementary school as conveyed through their own "stories of practice". The major research questions that guided the study were: (1) How do mentor teachers describe their science teaching practices and how have they changed as a result of participation in PDS? (a) In what ways do PDS mentor teachers' descriptions of practice reflect contemporary reform ideas and practices in science education? (b) To what extent do their stories emphasize technical aspects of teaching versus epistemological changes in their thinking and knowledge? (c) How is student learning in science reflected in teachers' stories of practice? (2) What is the relationship between the levels and types of involvement in PDS to change in thinking about and practices of teaching science? (3) What is the depth of commitment that mentors convey about changes in science teaching practices? Using case study design, the research explored the ways experienced teachers, working within the context of a PDS community, described changes in the ways they think about and teach science. The connection to the issue of change in teaching practices grew out of interest in understanding the relationship between mentor teachers' engagement in PDS activities and their thinking about classroom practice. The main focus of this research study was on change in science teaching within the context of a professional development school. PDS literature and current literature on the learning and teaching of science in grades K-8 provided a theoretical orientation to guide the research. Additionally, literature on the process of change in schools helped to narrow the focus of the study while using a lens of situated learning provided additional insight. Analysis of the interview data generated seven assertions that captured the nature of the change process of mentor teachers. Science-specific professional development as well as strong support and encouragement within an active community of learners played significant roles in the transformation of mentor teachers from traditional or activity-based science teachers into educators who use reform-oriented methods and a lens of evidence and explanation to guide their science teaching. Mentor teachers acknowledged an increase in student interest and excitement toward science as a result of these changes in science teaching practices. In addition, data revealed that mentor teachers remained committed to their changed practice after several years. By examining the change process of mentor teachers in a PDS environment, findings from this study are discussed based on implications regarding the factors that contribute to and affect change as reform-oriented practices are implemented in science, a curricular area that is often neglected by elementary teachers. [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: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A