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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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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) Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2007 (TIMSS 2007)- TIMSS 2007 is the fourth in a cycle of internationally comparative assessments dedicated to improving teaching and learning in mathematics and science for students around the world. Administered every four years at the fourth and eighth grades, TIMSS provides data about trends in mathematics and science achievement over time. TIMSS was designed to investigate student learning of mathematics and science and the way in which educational systems, schools, teachers, and students influence the learning opportunities and experiences of individual students.

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The current trend in science education is to adopt instructional practices that follow research on how students learn and achieve. Given the emphasis placed on inquiry-based instruction in the Standards (NRC, 1996), the inclusion of inquiry-based instruction is important to a successful reform in science education (McReary, Golde, & Koeske, 2006). However, there have been few large-scale studies based on this premise. Previous studies based on this presumption have been qualitative in nature and therefore provided little empirical evidence. This study, being quantitative in nature, will address this need and provide an accounting of the pedagogy of practicing science teachers as reported by those teachers. This will contribute to the information concerning teacher practice.

This study on teacher practice with respect to inquiry-based science instruction is important for several reasons. First, this study extends the research on teacher practice; because studies have shown (NRC, 2003) that, there has not been a significant increase in the practice of inquiry-based instruction since the release of the NSES.

Comparing the current instructional methods used in science classrooms and student achievement in science will lead to an understanding of where educators align themselves in relationship to science education reform and will provide increased knowledge of the direction in which science educators are headed. Second, factors that influence teachers’ practice are complex. One factor that has emerged in working toward the improvement of inquiry-based instruction is understanding the influence of teacher preparedness on teacher instructional practices. It is possible that teachers’ beliefs about their preparedness to teach science influence their teaching practices, how they believe content should be taught and how they think students learn. Determining a correlation between teacher preparedness to teach science to eighth grade students with their instructional style will provide a direction for future professional development programs with a possible emphasis on content and instructional methods. Third, as important as teacher practice is, the main goal of instruction is to affect student learning to promote science literacy. When compared with an international cohort of students, students in the United States are typically not among the high performers (Martin et al, 2004; Parker and Gerber, 2000; Roth et al, 2006; Stigler & Hiebert, 1999). The National Science Standards (NRC, 1996b) call for a major shift in pedagogical approach to teaching science, prompting studies on student achievement.

The 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results for science assessment showed no significant change in student achievement in grades four and eight and a decline in performance at grade twelve since 1996 (Grigg, Lauko, and Brockway, 2006). This study will provide information that will contribute to a body of knowledge for the improvement of instruction in science classrooms and provide quantitative data to validate the benefits of inquiry-based teaching on science achievement.

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The secondary analysis of existing data sets, like TIMSS 2007, provides an important opportunity for researchers concerned with science education. Miller (1982) describes the term secondary analysis as previously collected data sets of individual interviews or test scores when the unit of analysis is the individual or comparable measures for other units of analysis. The TIMSS 2007 international assessment of student achievement comprises written tests in mathematics and science together with a set of questionnaires that gather information on the educational and social contexts for achievement. One of the important considerations in the design and implementation of TIMSS 2007 was to produce a full database that contained all of the available data collected from the participants and to make these data available to educational researchers. Such a database has been developed and made public in a timely manner. The TIMSS 2007 database is a wealth of data for educational researchers to perform secondary analysis and potentially provide decision makers with valuable indicators of good curriculum design and provide teachers and teacher educators with advice on effective teaching and learning methods.





Using a large database such as TIMSS 2007 has many advantages and disadvantages. Although the TIMSS 2007 study presents enormous bodies of data for analysis, this study is a secondary analysis, which poses some cautions.

It is important to recognize that other investigators collected the TIMSS 2007 data. As with all secondary analysis studies, it is important never to assume that another investigator collected a data set correctly. In this study, the researcher examined the sample selection procedures, sample size, response rates, field procedures, and coding conventions of the TIMSS 2007 carefully to ensure no deficiencies. The larger, national, professionally collected data sets that are available for secondary analysis are of higher quality than the smaller and local samples that most individual science education scholars can afford to collect (Hyman, 1972).

As is true for all secondary analysis, this study was limited by the data collected and definitions used in the TIMSS 2007 study. The data from the teachers were limited by the questions asked, the directions for those questions, and the response selections provided. Teachers were asked to recall past science classes taught to answer the questions used in this study. Discrepancies in the teachers’ memory of a class could have influenced the study. Any misinterpretations by teachers may have influenced the results of this study. Although TIMSS 2007 provides a wealth of educational data, there was only one method for examining teacher preparedness and instructional practices based on teacher responses to a questionnaire.

Questionnaires are simple to administer and easily transfer into data files for statistical analysis.

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Today’s society is changing at rapid rates and science education programs need to prepare students for the world in which they live. Although the teaching of science has undergone much reform and recommendations for new goals for teaching science are developing continuously, the United States still lags behind their international counterparts.

Improving science performance for all students is an important policy issue and educational concern.

Although the nature of inquiry-based instruction varies among science educators, its value is undeniable in current science education research. Given its importance, addressing inquiry-based instruction is essential in regards to influencing teachers’ preparedness for inquirybased instruction. The level of preparedness that teachers have for science and science instruction play a critical role in shaping their patterns of instructional behavior (Plourde, 2002). The level of preparedness and confidence a teacher acquires may lead to providing effective inquiry-based instruction that in effect correlates to an increase in student achievement.

Chapter 1 describes the purpose of the study, providing a rationale for the guiding questions that provide focus and direction for the inquiry. Chapter 2 contains a review of relevant discourses including a description of the current state of science education in the United States, an historical overview of the changing goals of science education, with emphasis on the role of inquiry-based instruction, a discussion of the diverse definitions and description of inquiry-based instruction, a discussion of inquiry-based instruction within the constructivist-learning model, a discussion about the influence of teacher preparedness on teaching style, and an explanation of the TIMSS 2007. Chapter 3 explains the research methodology used in this study. Specifically, information is provided regarding secondary analysis methods research design, the sampling frame, and data collection procedures. It addresses the research methodology that frames this investigation and guides the research procedures. Chapter 4 presents the data analysis procedures and results. It includes a description of the sample, the quantitative data results and descriptive statistics. Chapter 5 presents conclusions drawn from the data and discussions regarding the conclusions. Finally, implications for secondary science teachers and future research are discussed, followed by a summary of the study.

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The focus of this study was to examine the relationship between teachers’ preparedness to teach science content and their instructional practices to the science achievement of eighth grade science students in the United States as demonstrated by the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS 2007).

This chapter provided the historical, theoretical, and research background for this study by reviewing the literature related to the indicators of inquiry-based instruction and the importance of this pedagogy for necessary student achievement in science.

The review of the literature is presented in six sections. An historical overview of the changing goals of science education, with emphasis on the role of inquirybased instruction is presented in the first section.

Diverse definitions and descriptions of inquiry-based instruction are described in the second section. Inquirybased instruction within the constructivist-learning model is discussed in the third section. The influence of teacher preparedness on teaching style is discussed in the fourth section. The current state of science education in the United States is presented in the fifth section. The 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS 2007) is explained in the sixth section.

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Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards (National Research Council (NRC), 2000) stated that inquiry teaching and learning in school programs is less than a century old. As early as 1909, John Dewey stressed there was too much emphasis on facts without enough emphasis on science for thinking and an attitude of mind. Dewey (1910) proclaimed that children should experience science and not be passive recipients of ready-made knowledge. He contended “knowledge is not information, but a mode of intelligent practice and habitual disposition of mind” (p.125). Dewey (1910) articulated the objectives of inquiry-based instruction: developing thinking, formulating habits of mind, learning science subjects, and understanding the process of science.

In Dewey’s model, the student is actively involved, and the teacher has a role as a facilitator and guide for the student. Dewey expanded his views and encouraged that science educators teach their students so that they could add to their personal knowledge of science. To accomplish this, teachers need to require students to address problems that they want to investigate and apply it to the observable phenomena (Dewey, 1916). According to Dewey (1938), concepts and problems to be studied must be related to students’ experiences and within their intellectual capacity; therefore, the students are to be active learners in their searching for answers. The wisdom and philosophy of Dewey (1938) suggests that providing students with a supportive environment and the freedom to construct their own knowledge motivates them to become engaged learners.

Dewey’s model was the basis for the Commission on Secondary School Curriculum (1937) entitled Science in Secondary Education (Barrow, 2006).

The launching of Sputnik I in 1957 caused the United States to question the quality of the science teachers, the science curriculum, and the methods for science instruction used in schools. The traditional science courses were not preparing young people for understanding either the world in which they were living or the future (Collette & Chiappetta, 1994). Science teaching, then, was portrayed as dull, inadequate, and not meeting the demands of the times (Barrow, 2006). The circumstances called for reform in science education. The National Science Foundation (NSF) had funded the development of innovative science curricula with special attention to improving science processes as individual skills such as observing, classifying, inferring, and controlling variables (Barrow, 2006). The launching of Sputnik sparked the most innovative and spectacular changes in the philosophy of science education ever seen in American schools (Collette & Chiappetta, 1994).

Joseph Schwab provided the foundation for inquiry as a relevant theme in science curriculum reform in the 1950s and 1960s (1958, 1960, 1962, & 1966). Schwab, (1962), in “The Teaching of Science as Enquiry,” supported Dewey’s sentiments on the importance of inquiry-based instruction in school settings. According to Schwab, scientists no longer conceived science as stable truths to be verified;

rather they viewed it as principles for inquiry, conceptual structures revisable in response to new evidence (Bybee, 2000).

Schwab (1960) described two types of inquiry:



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