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ERIC Number: ED542525
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 112
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-2673-5362-7
ISSN: N/A
Investigation of Inquiry-Based Science Pedagogy among Middle Level Science Teachers: A Qualitative Study
Weiland, Sunny Minelli
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Marywood University
This study implemented a qualitative approach to examine the phenomenon of "inquiry-based science pedagogy or inquiry instruction" as it has been experienced by individuals. Data was collected through online open-ended surveys, focus groups, and teacher reported self-reflections to answer the research questions: 1) How do middle level science teachers conceptualize "inquiry-based instruction?" 2) What are preferred instructional strategies for implementation in middle level science classrooms? And 3) How do middle level science teachers perceive the connection between science instruction and student learning? The participants within this research study represent 33 percent of teachers in grades 5 through 9 within six school districts in northeastern Pennsylvania. Of the 12 consent forms originally obtained, 10 teachers completed all three phases of the data collection, including the online survey, participation in focus groups, and teacher self-reflection. 60 percent of the participants taught only science, and 40 percent taught all content areas. Of the ten participants, 50 percent were certified teachers of science and 50 percent were certified as teachers of elementary education. 70 percent of the research participants reflected having obtained a master's, with 60 percent of these degrees being received in areas of education, and 10 percent in the area of science. The research participants have a total of 85 collective years of experience as professional educators, with the average years of experience being 8.5 years. Analysis of data revealed three themes related to research question #1) How do middle-level science teachers conceptualize inquiry-based instruction? and sub-question #1) How do middle-level science teachers characterize effective instruction? The themes that capture the essence of teachers' formulation of inquiry-based instruction that emerged in this study were student centered, problem solving, and hands-on. Analysis of data revealed one theme related to research question #2) What are preferred instructional strategies for implementation in middle level science classrooms? and topical sub-question #2) How do middle level science teachers structure instruction. The theme that emerged was needs of students. Analysis of the data revealed one theme related to research question #3) How do middle level science teachers perceive the relationship between science instruction and student learning? and topical sub-question #3) How do middle level science teachers view their role in relation to student learning? This theme is meaning making. Analysis of the data related to meaning making revealed two sub-themes of application and relationships. It is clear that middle level science teachers have a vision for inquiry-based science instruction, but implementation is inhibited by a variety of factors including curricular programming that is very broad and lacks depth, the scheduling of time and resources for science, and the absence of a clear model of inquiry-based instruction. In addition, only one participant referenced students investigating their own authentic questions and no participants reflected on the importance of students using evidence in their explanations of scientific phenomenon. Additionally, participants continually reflected on the needs of their students informing instructional practices, and it is wondered if there is a clear understanding among middle level teachers of how students learn science. Real world applications were recognized as important within science learning and the researcher questions whether teachers of science have adequate opportunities to explore real world application of science concepts throughout their careers in order to foster connections within the classroom. These findings support the need for strong, job-embedded professional development, the cultivation of learning communities dedicated to the investigation and implementation of inquiry-based science, the focusing of curricular programming to allow for in depth investigation of scientific concepts, and the commitment of time and resources to support effective science instruction. In addition, it is recommended that additional support be provided to teachers of science to engage in job shadowing, field experiences and internships to allow for the uncovering of applications of science beyond the classroom. Throughout the United States, there continues to be a clear call for reform in the area of science education. These research findings must inform the work of the educational reformers, professional developers, teacher preparation programmers, and researchers as they aspire to improve the quality of student learning and science instruction. In addition, this research supports the need for ongoing reform efforts to science curriculum, instruction and assessment and the need for more effective teacher preparation programs and professional development programs for teachers of science. [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; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania