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Analysis of Student Work to Develop Teacher Knowledge of Inquiry Science. Erin Peters, M.Ed., NBCT Doctoral Student in Science Education. Purpose of Study. Qualitative Study embedded in 5-year Design-Based Research project Discover teachers’ perceptions about understanding inquiry science

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analysis of student work to develop teacher knowledge of inquiry science

Analysis of Student Work to Develop Teacher Knowledge of Inquiry Science

Erin Peters, M.Ed., NBCT

Doctoral Student

in Science Education

purpose of study
Purpose of Study

Qualitative Study embedded in 5-year Design-Based Research project

  • Discover teachers’ perceptions about understanding inquiry science
  • Discover teachers perceptions about how inquiry happens in 4th grade science classrooms
  • Explore alignment of teacher conceptual frameworks of inquiry science with classroom practices and with ideal models of inquiry
conceptual context of research
Conceptual Context of Research
  • Study developed from an interest in patterns expressed in reflections of student work studies revealing increased understanding of inquiry
  • Researcher’s initial model of inquiry was inadequate in the analysis phase of research
  • A reformed model of inquiry was developed from background literature and helped to inform the analysis phase of research
student work analysis components
Student Work Analysis Components
  • Teacher Information Worksheet
    • Framework and rationale for lesson
  • Questions to Facilitate Discussion
    • Guided peer review to inquiry-based instruction
  • Student Work Samples
    • Work that exceeds expectations, meets expectations and does not meet expectation
  • Teacher Reflection
researcher s initial model of science inquiry
Researcher’s Initial Model of Science Inquiry

Enacting the features of process science

  • Observing
  • Inferring
  • Concluding
  • Estimating
  • Controlling variables
  • Organizing data
  • Classifying
researcher s refined model of science inquiry
Researcher’s Refined Model of Science Inquiry

Includes features that make science valuable and unique as a discipline

  • Nature follows rules and patterns which are understandable
  • Models are useful as representations, but must be evaluated for weaknesses
  • Claims are supported by evidence
  • Scientific knowledge can be applied universally and is sometimes subject to change
  • Explanations about science come partly from observations and partly from ideas
        • (Benchmarks, 1996)
conceptual framework of study
Conceptual Framework of Study

Background Research

Student Work Analysis

Survey of Teacher Perception of Inquiry Science

Researcher’s

First Mental

Model of

Inquiry

Baseline Interview

Teacher Developed Concept Map about Inquiry

Class Discussions and Readings

Interactions with a Scientist

Best Practice Video Series

Researcher’s

Refined Mental

Model of

Inquiry

Teacher Developed Concept Map about Inquiry

Follow Up Interview

research questions
Research Questions

Research Focus:

  • What are teacher perceptions of inquiry at the beginning and mid-point of a graduate course involving intensive exploration of science inquiry?
  • What are teacher perceptions about how inquiry happens in a 4th grade science classroom?
  • How do teachers’ perceptions of inquiry compare with their perceptions of how inquiry happens in the classroom?
  • How do teacher conceptions of inquiry compare with the researcher’s initial and refined models of inquiry?
background literature
Background Literature
  • Investigation into experienced science teachers’ beliefs about inquiry
    • Provides keys in understanding which belief conditions may be more apt to adopt inquiry-based lessons
          • (Wallace & Kang, 2004)
  • High school teachers’ decision making models for planning and teaching science
    • Decisions are dominated by considerations for student development, curriculum guide objectives and pressures of accountability
          • (Duschl & Wright, 1989)
background literature10
Background Literature
  • Epistemology of science is directly related to the nature of science
    • Epistemology of science can be considered as a tool for reflecting on contents of knowledge
          • (Larochelle & Desautels, 1991)
  • Implicit versus Explicit Nature of Science Instruction
    • The nature of science should be expressed explicitly for a positive cognitive outcome
          • (Bell, Lederman & Abd-El-Khalick, 1998)
background literature11
Background Literature
  • Teachers’ understanding of the nature of science and classroom practice
    • Teachers’ conceptions of science do not necessarily influence classroom practice
      • (Lederman, 1999)
  • Bridging the gap between nature of science and scientific inquiry
    • Empirical research does not support the idea that scientific inquiry alone teaches concepts about the nature of science
      • (Schwartz, Lederman & Crawford, 2003)
participants data sources
Participants & Data Sources
  • Participants in research
    • Six teachers – 4th grade students
  • Data Sources
    • Interviews
      • Probing for beliefs, understanding and views on teaching practice related to inquiry-based learning in science
    • Concept maps
      • Probing for conceptual framework of inquiry-based science
  • Supplemental Data Sources
    • Research Memos
    • Reflections from Student Work Assessment
    • Surveys
methods
Methods

Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach

        • (Maxwell, 1996)
  • Converted interview text into concept maps
  • Explored intersections of initial interviews and initial concept maps
  • Explored intersections of subsequent interviews and subsequent concept maps
  • Separated intersections into concepts and practice
  • Examined similarities and differences in initial intersections and subsequent intersections
    • Reviewed concepts maps on a structural level and on a textual level
      • (Spector, 2004)
  • Compared participant initial conceptions to subsequent conceptions and to an ideal model of inquiry
validity checks
Validity Checks
  • Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach
        • -(Maxwell, 1996)
survey results common to findings
Survey Results Common to Findings
  • Teachers felt asking students open-ended questions was important and reported that open-ended questions were prevalent in their classes
  • Teachers did not feel strongly that evidence should be supplied to support claims by students
  • Teachers reported a low importance for student designed activities to test ideas
survey results contrasting findings
Survey Results Contrasting Findings
  • Teachers reported a high level of explicit description of the habits of mind required for science in their class
  • Implies a gap between teacher perceptions and practice regarding the nature of science
changes in teacher perceptions of inquiry
Changes in Teacher Perceptions of Inquiry
  • Inquiry is no longer synonymous with the scientific method
    • “I think I thought before that it (inquiry) was . . . more like the scientific method and now I am seeing that it is not.”
    • “At the beginning . . . When I think about teaching science, it was the scientific method.”
  • Inquiry is not a linear process, but a cyclical one
    • “Inquiry is about so many different things.”
    • I thought before it (inquiry) was more linear.”
    • “ . . . not having students learn in steps.”
    • “Also that one question leads to another questions and it’s a cycle.”
limited concept of inquiry
Limited Concept of Inquiry
  • Teacher perception of inquiry as a general question-answer cycle is not exclusive to science as a discipline
    • “Inquiry is questioning . . . and their questions change”
    • “Students use their resources to find their answers”
    • “. . . curiosity and exploring questions”
  • Teachers’ conception of science inquiry incorporates few science process skills
    • Observing
    • Predicting
    • Experimenting
    • Communicating
further study
Further Study
  • Videos of peer analysis of student work products could have revealed more about how teachers think about inquiry
  • Specific discussion of the features of the nature of science could clarify inquiry to the participants
  • Interviews could have questions probing teacher understanding of the nature of science and the connection to inquiry
implications
Implications
  • An extension of this study could explore the effect of explicit instruction in the nature of science on teacher perceptions of inquiry
    • Could a deeper understanding of the nature of science help teachers become more proficient in teaching inquiry?
  • Difficult to distinguish between concepts and practice in teacher perceptions
    • Do teachers distinguish between their conception of inquiry and how inquiry is used as a practice?
acknowledgements
Acknowledgements
  • Dr. Brenda Bannan-Ritland
    • Provided constant feedback in data gathering, analysis and final presentation
  • John Baek, M.Ed.
    • Provided valuable feedback for background research and helped to take the analysis to a deeper level
  • 4th Grade Science Teacher Participants
contact information
Contact Information

Erin Peters

Graduate Research Assistant

George Mason University

Science Lead Teacher

Williamsburg Middle School

Arlington, Virginia

erin_peters@apsva.us