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«RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TEACHER PREPAREDNESS AND INQUIRY-BASED INSTRUCTIONAL PRACTICES TO STUDENTS’ SCIENCE ACHIEVEMENT: EVIDENCE FROM TIMSS 2007 A ...»

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In the teacher questionnaire, teachers indicated how many years they have been teaching all together. The number of years that teachers taught was reported in terms of one to five years; six to 10 years; 11 to 15 years; 16 to 20 years; 21 to 25 years; and more than 26 years. The sample population showed that most teachers, 29% had one to five years teaching experience. Approximately 22% of the teacher population taught six to 10 years. Over 50% of the teachers in the sample population had 10 or less years teaching experience.

Summary of Teachers’ Preparedness The first research question addressed by this study was to determine the orientation of science teachers, with respect to their preparedness to teach specific science content to eighth grade science students. In the teacher’s questionnaire (Appendix B), teachers responded to how well they felt prepared to teach 23 specific concepts in the areas of biology, chemistry, physics and earth science.

There were seven biology concepts, five chemistry concepts, six physics concepts, and five earth science concepts. The means from each subject area were recorded. The means ranged from 2.21 to 2.42. The sample population showed that teachers felt more than “Somewhat prepared” to teach each content area. Teachers indicated they felt the most prepared to teach physics.

Summary of Teachers’ Inquiry-Based Instructional Tendencies The second question addressed by this study was to determine the orientation of science teachers, on a continuum from didactic to inquiry oriented, with respect to their self-reported instructional practices. TIMSS 2007 teacher questionnaires (Appendix B) contained numerous items representing constructs of primary concern to this study. TIMSS 2007 was not designed to specifically measure the preparedness, use, or beliefs of didactic and inquirybased instruction of the teacher population. The specific instructional variables and relationships among variables examined in this report were selected because of the theoretical interests of this study. As explained in Chapter 3, the researcher identified the questions as either inquiry-based or didactic teaching instruction based on the theoretical framework of this study.

The definition of inquiry-based instruction for this study is provided by the National Science Education Standards (NSES): Inquiry-base instruction engages students in making observations; posing questions;

reviewing what is already known in regards to experimental evidence; using tools to gather, analyze, and interpret data; proposing answers, explanations, and predictions;

communicating the results; identifying assumptions; using critical and logical thinking; and considering alternative explanations; processing information, communicating with groups, coaching student actions, facilitating student thinking, modeling the learning process, and providing flexible use of materials. (National Research Council (NRC), 1996 p. 23) The researcher identified ten questions as using techniques aligned with the qualities consistent with inquiry-based classroom instruction. Five of the 10 techniques of inquiry-based instruction were scored between

1.0 and 2.0 indicating the teachers used the techniques greater than some lessons, but less than half the lessons they teach. Among the teachers, the highest indications were for teachers providing students opportunities to relate what they are learning in science to their daily lives (M=2.34) and for teachers providing students the opportunity to give explanations about something they are studying (M=2.28). This indicated the teachers used these inquiry-based strategies more than half the lessons, but not for every lesson. At least 93% of the teachers indicated using all the identified inquiry-based techniques for at least some of the lessons they teach. Therefore, teachers are using inquiry-based techniques to instruct students in science that are supported by the National Research Council (NRC).

Summary of Teachers’ Didactic-Based Instructional Tendencies In addition to the researcher identifying ten questions as using techniques aligned with the qualities consistent with inquiry-based classroom instruction, the researcher also identified five questions as using techniques aligned with the qualities consistent with didactic classroom instruction. Didactic instruction is defined as the transmission of facts to students, who are seen as passive receptors. This instruction typically uses lecture format and instructs the entire class as a unit.

Knowledge is presented as fact where students’ prior experiences are not seen as important. Moreover, instruction does not provide students with opportunities to experiment with different methods to solve problems, but primarily uses a drill and practice format with a foundation on textbooks (Smerdon, Burkam, and Lee, 1999).

In this study, four of the five techniques of didactic instruction had means that were above 1.00, but less than

3.00 indicating the teachers used the techniques less than half the lessons. Among the teachers, the lowest indication, less than half their lessons (M=1.52) was for having the students read their textbooks or other resource materials. This supports the NRC’s notion of less emphasis on the use of textbooks as the primary means of instruction and student learning. Between 62% and 82% of the teachers indicated only using the didactic techniques for some lessons or never as opposed to using the techniques for almost every lesson or about half the lessons. This indicates that the teachers in this study are using more inquiry-based techniques, rather than didactic techniques to instruct their students in science. Moreover, as explained in Chapter 2, these results support the NRC’s view for teachers employing instruction having more emphasis on inquiry-based instructional strategies and less emphasis on didactic strategies.





Summary of Correlation Analysis between Teachers’ Beliefs about Preparedness to Teach Science Content and Their SelfReported Instruction Practices The third question addressed in this study was what, if any, relationship exists between teachers’ beliefs about preparedness to teach science content and their selfreported instructional practices in teaching science to eighth grade science students. First, a correlation analysis was used to determine if a relationship existed between eighth grade science teachers’ main area of study and their self-reported beliefs on preparedness to teach specific science content areas. A second correlation analysis was used to determine if a relationship existed between eighth grade science teachers’ self-reported beliefs about their preparedness to teach specific science content areas and their self-reported instructional practices.

The identification of the teachers’ main area of study was indicated as biology, physics, chemistry, and earth science. The sample population showed 43.6% of the teachers’ main area of study was in biology, 18.3% in chemistry, 17.6% in earth science, and 7.8% in physics.

This is consistent with Chaney (1995), who explained most middle school teachers who possess a degree in science have a degree in life sciences or biology.

The data showed all teachers’ main area of study had a statistically significant positive correlation with their self-reported feelings of preparedness to teach that same science content area. In addition, data showed that teachers whose main area of study was biology, chemistry, or earth science had a statistically significant negative correlation for having feelings of preparedness for at least one science content area outside of their main area of study. Although these correlations were statistically significant, the magnitudes of the relation between the variables were weak. While these correlations were weak, the finding is consistent with Goldhaber and Brewer (1998) who found many middle school science teachers do not have a bachelor’s degree or certification in the subject they are being asked to teach. Furthermore, Chaney (1995) explains that only a minority of middle school teachers possess a degree in the earth and physical sciences. This tendency could be problematic for reform efforts; because many middle school curriculums are integrated in nature, with several science content areas per grade level (Saderholm & Tretter, 2008).

The second correlation analysis was used to determine if a relationship existed between eighth grade science teachers’ self-reported beliefs about their preparedness to teach specific science content areas and their selfreported instructional practices. The data showed a statistically significant positive relationship existed between teachers’ self-reported use of inquiry-based instruction and preparedness to teach biology, chemistry, and physics. Although this correlation was statistically significant, the magnitudes of the relation between the variables were weak. However, the correlation indicated that teachers who tend to used inquiry-based instructional practices more frequently have feelings of being prepared to teach biology, chemistry, or physics, respectively.

There was a statistically significant negative relationship between teachers’ self-reported use of inquiry-based instructional practices and preparedness to teach earth science. Similar to the above correlation, the magnitude of the relation between the variables were weak. However, the correlation indicated that teachers who tend to use inquiry-based instructional practices more frequently do not feel they are prepared to teach earth science.

The major trend in science education reform is emphasis for science teachers to use inquiry-based instruction. One factor that has emerged in research literature is the effect teacher preparedness has on teacher practice. Teachers are the primary means of curriculum implementation. A teacher’s level of preparedness in their content area of expertise is of critical importance (Darling-Hammond, 2000). At the secondary level, studies indicate that coursework taken in subject-specific pedagogy is positively related to implementing sound pedagogy and secondary students’ achievement (Chaney, 1995; Monk, 1994). Studies of science teachers’ pedagogical knowledge have reported positive effects of education training on teachers’ knowledge and practices (Adams & Krockover, 1997).

Summary of Correlation Analysis between Eighth Grade Student Science Achievement and Teachers’ Self-Reported Beliefs about Preparedness to Teach Science The fourth question addressed in this study was twofold in regards to student science achievement. What, if any relationship exists between eighth grade student achievement in science and teachers’ self-reported beliefs about preparedness to teach science content to eighth grade science students? What, if any relationship exists between eighth grade student achievement and Teachers’ selfreported instructional practices in teaching science to eighth grade science students?

To answer the first part of this question a correlation analysis was used to determine if a relationship existed between eighth grade science teachers’ self-reported beliefs about their preparedness to teach specific science content areas and eighth grade student science achievement. Although the magnitude of the correlation was weak, the data indicated a statistically significant positive relationship existed between physics preparedness and student science achievement. Previous analysis showed that 7.8% of the teacher sample had indicated physics as their main area of study. In addition, teachers indicating physics as their main area of study also had a statistically significant positive relationship with having feelings of preparedness for teaching both chemistry and earth science. According to this study, physics teachers indicated feelings of being prepared to teach all science subjects except biology and it was physics teachers who indicated a statistically significant positive relationship between physics preparedness and student science achievement. These results are consistent with the findings of Goldhaver & Brewer (1997, 2000). They found science teachers holding subject-specific degrees and therefore having the subject knowledge to teach specific science content to have a statistically positive relationship with student achievement.

To answer the second part of the fourth research question, a correlation analysis was performed to determine teachers’ self-reported inquiry-based instructional practices and eighth grade student science achievement.

Data indicated a weak statistically significant positive relationship existed between science teachers’ selfreported implementation of inquiry-based instructional practices and student science achievement. Teachers who indicated more use of inquiry-based instruction and less use of didactic instruction were more likely to have students achieving in science. This is consistent with several other studies that has produced evidence that correlates inquiry-based science instruction with an increase in achievement (Escalada & Zollman, 1997;

Freedman, 1997, 2001; Johnson, Kahle, & Fargo, 2006;

Kahle, Meece, & Scantlebury, 2000; Mattern & Schau, 2002;

McReary, Golde, & Koeske, 2006; Morrell & Lederman, 1998;

Okebukola, 1987; Oliver-Hoyo & Allen 2005; Parker & Gerber, 2000; Tamir & Glassman, 1971). Efforts must be made in order to change the focus from a traditional, teachercentered classroom to an inquiry-based, student-centered classroom. These efforts could promote an increase in student interest, motivation and achievement in the science classroom.

–  –  –

The current trend in science education is to adopt instructional practices that follow research on how students learn and achieve. Science educators and the National Science Standards have actively recommended using inquiry-based instruction to engage students in the processes of learning science. McReary, Golde, & Koeske (2006) emphasized the importance of inquiry-based instruction for a successful reform in science education Furthermore, other studies have produced evidence that correlates inquiry-based science instruction with an increase in achievement (Escalada & Zollman, 1997;

Freedman, 1997, 2001; Johnson, Kahle, & Fargo, 2006;

Kahle, Meece, & Scantlebury, 2000; Mattern & Schau, 2002;

McReary, Golde, & Koeske, 2006; Morrell & Lederman, 1998;



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