«RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TEACHER PREPAREDNESS AND INQUIRY-BASED INSTRUCTIONAL PRACTICES TO STUDENTS’ SCIENCE ACHIEVEMENT: EVIDENCE FROM TIMSS 2007 A ...»
Stable and fluid. Stable inquiry uses current principles to add to the scientific knowledge base, which is a growing body of knowledge. Fluid inquiry requires the use of invention to question current principles that may lead to scientific revolutions. Schwab (1966) believed that students should be given the opportunity to view science as a series of conceptual structures that should continually be revised when new information or evidence is discovered.
Schwab stated, In the very near future a substantial segment of our public will become cognizant of science as a product of fluid enquiry, understand that it is a mode of investigation which rests on conceptual innovation, proceeds through uncertainty and failure, and eventuates in knowledge which is contingent, dubitable, and hard to come by. (p.5) Inquiry-based practices have been heralded as essential to students’ development of what Dewey (1910) calls “habits of minds,” a way of thinking that promotes scientific reasoning skills. Consistent with Dewey’s thoughts, Schwab encouraged science to be taught in a way that was parallel with the way modern science operates. Schwab (1966) emphasized the importance of getting students actively involved in the learning process through means of investigation and not just the content fact of science. He also encouraged science teachers to use the laboratory to assist students in their study of science concepts. This facet is found in the Biology Teachers’ Handbook (Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, 1978) in which Schwab called for the use of “Invitations to Enquiry.” Using this strategy, teachers utilize sixteen activities providing students with research readings that come from articles, reports, or books. The teacher and students are then encouraged to engage in dialogue regarding the problems, data, analyses, and conclusions derived by the investigators. Hence, Schwab advocated that students should read about alternative viewpoints and explanations of scientific inquiry. He recommended inquiry-based instruction as the preferred format for teaching science concepts so students could be active in the learning process.
In 1964, F. James Rutherford explained that even though science teachers opposed didactic methods of instruction and supported inquiry-based instruction, in reality, the teaching of science does not model science as inquiry. Furthermore, Rutherford noted that it is not clear as to what teaching with inquiry means. Some science teachers see inquiry construed as part of the science content itself. Other science teachers envisioned inquiry as a particular teaching strategy for the teaching of scientific content.
Rutherford (1964, pp.80-84) developed three conclusions about inquiry-based instruction in science classrooms. First, it is possible to gain a sensible understanding of science as inquiry, once teachers recognize the necessity of considering inquiry as content and operate on the premise that the concepts of science are properly understood only in the context of how they were arrived at and of what further inquiry they initiated.
Second, it is possible to learn something of science as inquiry without having the learning process follow an exact set of the methods of inquiry used in science. Third, the laboratory can be used to provide the student experience with some components of the investigative techniques used in science. Rutherford stated that until science teachers understand “a rather thorough grounding in the history and philosophy of the sciences they teach, this kind of understanding will elude them, in which event not much progress toward the teaching of science as inquiry can be expected” (1964, p.84).
During the 1970s and 1980s the National Science Foundation (NSF) supported a project that analyzed and synthesized a number of national surveys, assessments, and case studies about the status of science education in the United States (Harms & Kahl, 1980; Harms & Yager, 1981;
Helgeson, Blosser, & Howe, 1997). Project Synthesis (Harms & Yager, 1981) was a compilation of three major NSF sponsored projects which included a review of 1955-1975 literature (Helgeson, Blosser, & Howe, 1997), case studies by Stake and Easley (1978), and the 1977 national survey of science, mathematics, and social studies education, which collected data on materials, practices and the leadership of science education(Weiss, 1978). In addition, other sources, such as the Office of Education funded project, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), completed its third comprehensive assessment of science knowledge, skills, attitudes and educational experiences of precollege students, based on a broad set of objectives developed by NAEP. As a set, these four studies provided a more comprehensive picture of science education and became the backbone of the database from which Project Synthesis worked.
Using the data in developing a discrepancy model, there were four different goal clusters developed: personal needs, societal issues, academic preparation, and career education and awareness. The greatest emphasis was on academic preparation. Welch, Klopfer, Aikenhead, and Robinson (1981) contributed a significant portion of this review that was devoted to the role of inquiry-based science instruction. They concluded that science educators were using the term “inquiry” in a multitude of ways that encompasses inquiry as content and inquiry as an instructional technique. Science educators were unclear about the term’s meaning. It was reported that science teachers view inquiry positively, however; “little evidence exists that inquiry is being used” (Hurd, Bybee, Kahle, & Yager, 1980). In general, they found that although there was a positive attitude toward the importance of inquirybased instruction, there is a discrepancy between about the importance of inquiry and the attention given it in practice. Science teachers identified the following
reasons for not employing inquiry-based instruction:
limited teacher preparation, including management; lack of time; limited available materials; lack of support;
emphasis only on content; reading were too difficult, the students were immature; experiments were too risky; hard to track the progress of students; too expensive and difficult to teach (Welch et al., 1981; Constenson & Lawson, 1986).
Project 2061, the long-term efforts by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to reform K-12 science, identified what all students should know and be able to do when they graduate at the end of grade 12.
The results of Project 2061 have been publications like Science for All Americans in 1989 and Benchmarks for Science Literacy in 1993. Science for All Americans (Rutherford & Ahlgren, 1989) has a broad view of defining scientific literacy and made several recommendations for historical perspectives, habits of mind, and that teaching should be consistent with the nature of scientific inquiry.
Science for All Americans is based on the belief that the science-literate person is one who is aware that science, mathematics, and technology are interdependent human enterprises with strengths and limitations; understands key concepts and principles of science; is familiar with the natural world and recognizes both its diversity and unity;
and uses scientific knowledge and scientific ways of thinking for individual and social purposes. Science for All Americans (AAAS, 1990) claimed that by 2061 a generation of science literate citizens would be achieved.
Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS, 1993) organized the topics into K-2, 3-4, 5-8, 9-12 grade-level groupings and provided specific results of learning about the nature of science, gaining historical perspectives, and acquiring good habits of mind such as informed skepticism, curiosity, and openness to new ideas. Both of these works have made important statements about specific goals and benchmarks about inquiry-based science instruction.
The National Science Education Standards (NSES) (National Research Council, 1996b) publicized a new report about inquiry-based science instruction. In this report, the NSES defined what all students in science classrooms should know and be able to do by grade twelve. In addition, the NSES described the kinds of learning experiences students need to achieve scientific literacy.
This publication advocated the idea that inquiry-based instruction is pertinent for student achievement of scientific literacy.
The NSES addressed inquiry in two ways. First, there is inquiry as content in which the students should both understand scientific inquiry and the abilities they should develop from their experiences with scientific inquiry.
Second, inquiry is associated with teaching techniques and the processes of learning with inquiry-oriented activities.
To provide clarification, the NRC (2000) published Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards and identified five essential features of inquiry (p. 25), regardless of
the grade level:
1. scientifically oriented questions that engage the
2. evidence collected by students that allows them to develop and evaluate their explanations to the scientifically oriented questions.
3. explanations developed by students from their evidence to address the scientifically oriented
The NRC (2000) asserted these essential features introduce students to many important aspects of science, while helping them develop a better knowledge of science concepts and processes. In addition, teachers of science must know that inquiry involves (a) the cognitive abilities that their students must develop; (b) an understanding of methods used by scientists to search for answers for their research questions; and (c) a variety of teaching strategies that help students to learn about scientific inquiry, develop their abilities of inquiry, and understand science concepts (Bybee, 2000; NRC, 1996b, 2000). The NRC (1996b) included a list of increased emphasis and decreased emphasis regarding inquiry (see Figure 1). These statements allow teachers of science to determine whether their perspectives about the three domains of inquiry are compatible with the reform movement in science education.
throughout the system. The teaching standards encompass the above changes in emphasis (National Research Council, 1996b. p. 113).
In addition, the NRC (1996b, 2000) acknowledges that not all science concepts can or should be taught using inquiry-based instruction. The following three paragraphs summarize interpretations about inquiry from the NRC in 1996, and each of these domains was clarified by the NRC in 2000.
The fundamental abilities of inquiry specified by the NRC (2000, p.
19) are to:
1. identify questions that can be answered through scientific investigations (students formulate a testable hypothesis and an appropriate design to be
2. design and conduct scientific investigations (using major concepts, proper equipment, safety precautions, use of technologies, etc., where students must use evidence, apply logic, and construct an argument for their proposed explanations).
3. use appropriate tools and techniques to gather,
4. develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence where the students’ inquiry should result in an explanation or a model.
5. think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence and explanations
6. recognize and analyze alternative explanations and
7. communicate scientific procedures and explanations.
8. use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry Accomplishing these eight skills requires science teachers to provide many inquiry-based investigation opportunities for students (Barrow, 2006). According to the NRC (2000), when students practice inquiry, it helps them develop critical thinking abilities and scientific reasoning, while developing a deeper understanding of science concepts.
The second domain of inquiry instruction is the development of understanding about how scientists work in the field of science. This domain of inquiry concentrates on the reasoning for which scientific knowledge changes when new evidence, methods, or explanations occur among members of the scientific community. Therefore, they will be very similar for each grade-level, except with increasing complexity (NRC, 2000). The categories identified by the NRC (2000, p. 20)
are as follows:
1. conceptual principles and knowledge that guide
2. investigations undertake for a wide variety of reasons—to discover new aspects, explain new phenomena, test conclusions of previous investigations, or test predictions of theories;
3. use of technology to enhance the gathering and
4. use of mathematics and its tools and models for improving the questions, gathering data, constructing explanations, and communicating
6. different types of investigations and results involving public communication within the science community. (To defend their results, scientists use logical arguments that identify connections between phenomena, previous investigations, and historical scientific knowledge; these reports must include clearly described procedures so other scientists can replicate or lead to future
The third domain of inquiry from the NSES is in the teaching standards (NRC, 2000). Several inquiry-based teaching strategies facilitate students’ developing a better understanding of science. Science teacher educators need to provide experiences and information so that future teachers of science can provide high quality inquiry-based science lessons.