«RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TEACHER PREPAREDNESS AND INQUIRY-BASED INSTRUCTIONAL PRACTICES TO STUDENTS’ SCIENCE ACHIEVEMENT: EVIDENCE FROM TIMSS 2007 A ...»
Science method courses may need to provide future science teachers with exemplary examples of inquiry-based instruction as a content area. Aspects of inquiry-based teaching include strategies to assess students’ prior knowledge and ways to utilize this information in their teaching; effective questioning strategies, including openended questions and long-term investigations, rather than single-period verification-type investigations (Barrow, 2006). The vast majority of their K-12 and college science laboratory experiences have not modeled inquiry as content.
Teachers need to have inquiry modeled for them because they need to see the benefit for their future students. For most future science teachers, this may not have been their personal experience. Providing a model of quality instruction could enhance their view of scientific literacy (Barrow, 2006).
Over the past century, inquiry-based instruction has been prevalent in research literature. Science educators, researchers, and philosophers have provided multiple interpretations of inquiry. Consequently, teachers of science are left to interpret the foundation, implementation, and results of inquiry-based instruction and the affects on student learning. To help clarify, the NRC (2000) released Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards, however research support the notion that science educators are still unclear about what inquiry means coupled with the uncertainty of implementing inquirybased instruction. Inquiry-based instruction has been an established concept for over a century in science education. Although many scholars (Barrow, Dewey, and Schwab) and the NRC, have discussed guidelines for implementation over a century, the concept is still widely discussed in the realm of science educators. Claims that inquiry-based instruction is a necessity for student success in a highly competitive, twenty-first century, technological world are still prevalent in science education.
Inquiry-based science instruction emerged from science education reform (Buck, Latta, & Leslie-Pelecky, 2007;
Haefner & Zembal-Saul, 2004; Newman, Abell, Hubbard, McDonald, Otaala, & Martini, 2004). Inquiry-based science instruction is highly encouraged by the National Research Council (NRC) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in order to produce better science literate students. However, despite its major importance in the science education community, scholars conclude that the current definitions of inquiry-based instruction offer a vague description of the term and its classroom applications (Anderson, 2002; Colburn 2006;
Cuevas, Lee, Hart, & Deaktor, 2005; Flick, 2000; Haefner & Zembal-Saul, 2004; Keys & Bryan, 2001; Martin-Hauser, 2002;
Wee, Shepardson, Fast, & Harbor, 2007; Windschitl, 2003).
The National Science Education Standards (NSES) (National Research Council, 1996b) defines inquiry as
Scientific inquiry refers to the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work. Inquiry also refers to the activities of students in which they develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, as well as an understanding of how scientists study the natural
Although the NSES included the definition and examples of inquiry-based teaching of science, these broad definitions do not provide adequate direction for teachers practicing inquiry-based instruction in their classrooms (Anderson, 2002; Flick, 2000; Keys & Bryan, 2001; Keys & Kennedy, 1999). Songer et al.
Science educators and researchers often hold a narrow, somewhat idealistic representation of scientific inquiry as “the kind of thinking scientists engage in” or other poorly defined constructs, in part, because few other models, and few well-defined models, of inquiry science exist. Consistent with the representation, inquiry guides can often present a monolithic view of what inquiry should look like in classrooms. (pp.511-512) This poses a critical challenge for teachers implementing inquiry-based instruction. Teachers develop and enact their own ideas of inquiry-based instruction in their classroom practice. These conceptions may not necessarily match with the vision of the reform documents or be commensurate with the emphasis of inquiry-based instruction in the science education literature (Aoki, Foster, & Ramsey, 2005; Windschitl, 2003). Windschitl (2004) explained that diverse ideas about inquiry-based instruction exist among not only science teachers, but also are “codified” in authoritative documents, reinforced by textbooks, and embodied in the practices of educators who promote the use of inquiry-based instruction as well as those who favor methods that are more traditional.
Flick et al. (1997) argued that our knowledge about inquiry-based science teaching has developed from the perspective of student’s behaviors and experiences in inquiry rather than teachers’ generation and management of these meaningful inquiry experiences. Furthermore, if inquiry is to become a practicable, mainstream approach to science pedagogy, researchers and teachers must become more explicit about the behaviors and thoughts of educators engaged in inquiry-based teaching (Flick et al., 1997).
Newman, Abell, Hubbard, McDonald, Otaala, and Martinini (2004) explained, “the definition of inquiry-based teaching in science is dynamic and context dependent” (p.273). Keys and Kennedy (1999) believed that any attempt for an operational definition of inquiry-based science teaching needs to come from grounded classroom practice, which would include teachers’ views of the pedagogy. Keys and Bryan (2001) supported the idea that one true definition of inquiry-based instruction is non-existent and every educator is dependant upon constructing his/her own understanding of the concept. They expressed that “multiple modes and patterns of inquiry-based instruction are not only inevitable but also desirable because they will paint a rich picture of meaningful learning in diverse situations” (p.632). However, this poses difficulty with providing a single definition of inquiry and its classroom applications is quite difficult (Henson, 1986).
In the research literature, several scholars tried to structure specific qualities and activities in identifying inquiry-base science teaching. Crawford (2000) presented some of the popular terms used by practicing teachers to refer inquiry-based instruction as doing science, hands-on science, and real-world science. Inquiry-based instruction extends from “traditional hands-on” to “student research” (Bonnstetter, 1998). Eick and Reed (2002) contended confirmatory type teaching activities that pursue predetermined procedures and have known outcomes should not be considered inquiry-based instruction. More radically, Hein (2002) contended that any teaching activities that do not allow for multiple results should not be considered inquiry-based instruction. His definition excluded most laboratory work in classrooms, because they are usually intending to demonstrate a concept and not a novel or diverse conclusion. National Research Council(1996b) described inquiry-based instruction as “the activities the students in which they develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, as well as an understanding of how scientists study the natural world” (p.23).
Kluger-Bell (1999) explained effective inquiry-based instruction involves students learning through direct interaction with materials and concepts. One necessary sign of inquiry-based instruction is the level of control that the students have in determining various aspects of the learning experience. Here inquiry-based instruction is determinant on the nature of the learning outcomes, the design of the investigation procedure, and the degree of student control on the learning experience.
The NRC (1996b) elaborated the inquiry process as follows:
Inquiry is a multifaceted activity that involves making observations; posing questions; examining books and other sources of information to see what is already known; planning investigations; reviewing what is already known in light of experimental evidence;
using tools to gather, analyze, and interpret data;
proposing answers, explanations, and predictions; and communicating the results. Inquiry requires identification of assumptions, use of critical and logical thinking, and consideration of alternative
This allows students to engage in various aspects of inquiry as they learn the scientific way of knowing the natural world.
According to the NRC (1996b), inquiry-based instruction embraces students with first hand events that incorporate observation, data collection, reflection, and analysis. Sutton and Krueger (2001) explained inquiry-based instruction may also include reading, discussion, and research where educators should use different strategies to develop the knowledge, understandings, and abilities for various content areas. They contend that inquiry-based instruction need not always be a hands-on experience.
Hodson (1999) categorized inquiry-based instruction as either “literature/media based” or “field experience/laboratory-based” (p.246).
Settlage (2007) suggested that the commonly held framework of inquiry-based science instruction has remained essentially the same from the middle of the previous century until today: Inquiry begins with a question based on observation, which ultimately leads to a conclusion based on evidence. However, Keys and Bryan (2001) challenged the notion that there is a simple, preconceived framework of inquiry waiting for discovery by students.
Based on a constructivist view of inquiry, Keys and Bryan proposed that inquiry is individually constructed by each student is based on his or her interaction with the physical world and
ideas. Rather than a lock-step trip through the various components of the inquiry process, Keys and Bryan (2001) presume that students construct their own knowledge about science, about how scientists work, and about the inquiry process as they interact with their peers, their teacher, and the classroom context.
Numerous definitions of inquiry-based instruction are found in the education literature. Flick (2003) provide a three-part definition that includes the process of how modern science is conducted, an approach for teaching science, and knowledge about the nature of science. Other definitions encompass processes, such as using investigative skills; actively seeking answers to questions about specific science concepts; and developing students’ ability to engage, explore, consolidate, and assess information (Lederman; 2003). According to the NRC (2000), Inquiry-based instruction is student-centered or open when students generate a question and carry out an investigation. It is teacher guided when the teacher selects the question and both students and teacher decide how to design and carry out an investigation. It is teacher centered or explicit when the teacher selects the questions and carries out an investigation through direct instruction or modeling (National Research Council, 2000).
Furthermore, NRC (2000) presented essential features of
• Learners are engaged by scientifically oriented
address scientifically oriented questions.
• Learners formulate explanations from evidence to address scientifically oriented questions.
• Learners evaluate their explanations in light of alternative explanations, particularly those reflecting scientific understanding.
• Learners communicate and justify their proposed
Finding numerous definitions for inquiry-based science instruction in research literature is not a difficult task.
However, each offer variance in the types of activities and learning opportunities for students. A critical challenge in the study of inquiry-based science instruction is the lack of a clear conception of what it involves (Cuevas, Lee, Hart, & Deaktor, 2005). This may result in science educators developing and enacting their own conceptions of inquiry-based instruction with their students and these conceptions may not draw a parallel with the intention of inquiry-based instruction in the research literature.
Inquiry within a Constructivist-learning Model The National Science Education Standards in the United States call for a reform of science education based on the use of inquiry grounded in the constructivist-learning model (Haney, Lumpe, Czerniak, & Egan, 2002; National Research Council [NRC], 1996). Learning through inquirybased instruction mirrors scientific inquiry in that students research and gather information and data to answer questions in support of learning scientific principles.
Inquiry-based instruction helped provide positive student gains in cognitive achievement, process skills, and attitude toward science (Anderson, 2002; Shymansky, Hedges, & Woodworth, 1990). The constructivist perspective provides a philosophical background for reforms and is a dominant paradigm in the field of science education.
Constructivism focuses on characterizing the cognitive growth of children, where learning is understood as a constructive process of conceptual growth, often involving reorganization of concepts in the learner’s understanding and development in general cognitive abilities such as problem-solving strategies and metacognitive processes (Straits & Wilke, 2007). Brooks and Brooks (1993) defined the following five principles as constructivist pedagogy.