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TIMSS 2007 provides an overall science scale score as well as content and cognitive domain scores at each grade level. The science scale is from 0 to 1,000, and the international mean score is set at 500, with an international standard deviation of 100. The scaling of data is conducted separately for each grade and each content domain. While the scales were created to each have a mean of 500 and a standard deviation of 100, the subject matter and the level of difficulty of items necessarily differ between the assessments at both grades.

Comparability over time is established by linking the data from each assessment to the data from the assessment that preceded it. Appendix A of Gonzales et al., (2008) provides more information on how the TIMSS 2007 scale was created.

TIMSS 2007 provides a large-scale, comparative study of education in the United States and the world that can be utilized to examine our educational system, scrutinize improvement initiatives and evaluate proposed standards and curricula. According to current research, there is considerable agreement among experts that the goal of science instruction is to create learning experiences in which students are challenged to think deeply and to understand an apply concepts to new situations. TIMSS 2007 contains a huge amount of information about school systems, as well as the performance of their students. 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 participating countries and to make these data available to educational researchers around the world. Many of TIMSS 2007 published results generate new questions, which must be addressed to understand the functioning of the school systems. Using the database, anyone who is interested can look at the same research questions from different research perspectives or investigate different research questions of interest and importance to the researcher.

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Science educators are continuously working to improve science education. As the literature reveals, inquirybased teaching has a decades-long and persistent history as the central method of good science pedagogy. Inquiry-based instruction employs the principles of constructivism, where science is a dynamic process and not just a body of knowledge. It is recognized that leading science organizations, such as the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Research Council (NRC), stress the inclusion of inquiry-based science instruction into school science programs and curriculum. Inquiry-based instruction helps students achieve science understanding by combining scientific knowledge with reasoning and thinking skills (National Research Council, 2000). A continuous growing body of evidence correlates inquiry-based science instruction with an increase in achievement (Escalada & Zollman, 1997;

Freedman, 1997; 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).

Therefore, it is important that science educators give priority to the implementation of inquiry-based learning opportunities.

The consensus, along with research evidence is a clear directive for the inclusion of inquiry-based science instruction in every school. Currently, there are concerns regarding the implementation of inquiry-based instruction into the classroom. The use of inquiry-based instruction in classroom practice may not be commensurate with the emphasis of inquiry in science education literature (Aoki, Foster, & Ramsey, 2005). Studies of teaching and learning in science classrooms reported that most teachers are still using traditional, didactic methods (Harms & Yager, 1980;

Seymour, 2002; Unal & Akpinar, 2006). Additionally, American students continue underperforming in science (Martin et al, 2004; Parker and Gerber, 2000; Roth et al, 2006; Stigler & Hiebert, 1999).

This study examined the relationship between teacher preparedness to teach science content and their instructional practices in the science classroom 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).

Specifically, this study investigated the orientation of teacher preparedness to teach biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science and the implementation of inquiry-based instruction to eighth grade students. Additionally, the identification of teachers’ preparedness in relation to the use of inquiry-based instructional practices in the science classroom will be explored. Finally, a correlation between the teachers’ implementation of inquiry-based instructional practices in science to United States eighth grade students’ achievement in science as demonstrated on the TIMSS 2007 was conducted.

Chapter 3 will address the research methodology that frames this quantitative study and guides the research procedures. A description of the research method and design, sampling frame, and data collection procedures are presented. The data analysis process is also discussed.

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The data of The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2007 was used in this study.

TIMSS 2007 is a cross-national comparative study of the performance and schooling contexts of fourth and eighth grade students in mathematics and science. TIMSS 2007 was the fourth in a cycle of internationally comparative assessments dedicated to improving teaching and learning in mathematics and science for students around the world. The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) coordinated TIMSS 2007, with national sponsors in each participating jurisdiction. In the United States, TIMSS was sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in the Institute of Education Sciences at the United States Department of Education. IEA developed TIMSS to measure trends in students' mathematics and science achievement.

TIMSS 2007 was particularly well suited for this research study for several reasons. First, TIMSS 2007 was the largest, most comprehensive, and most rigorous international study of schools and students ever conducted (Gonzales et al, 2008). TIMSS 2007 provided data from half a million students from 48 countries. Second, TIMSS 2007 was designed to investigate extensive background information that addresses concerns about the quantity, quality, and content of instruction. Third, TIMSS 2007 offered an excellent opportunity to create reliable and valid measures of instructional practices to answer the questions proposed by this study.

This study focused on the implementation of the principles of inquiry-based pedagogy on the science instruction of eighth grade students in the United States.

This quantitative study seeks to answer the following


1) What is the orientation of science teachers, with respect to their preparedness to teach specific science content to eighth grade science students?

2) What is the orientation of science teachers, on a continuum from didactic to inquiry oriented, with respect to their self-reported instructional practices in teaching science to eighth grade

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3) What, if any, relationship exists between teachers’ beliefs about preparedness to teach science content and their self-reported instructional practices in teaching science to eighth grade science students?

4) What, if any, relationship exists between student

achievement in science and:

a. Teachers’ beliefs about preparedness to teach

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This chapter addressed the research methodology that frames this quantitative investigation and guides the research procedures. The first section outlined the sampling design. The second section delineated the data collection procedure. The third section described the technical considerations that were addressed when analyzing the data. The fourth section explained the statistical analysis and treatment of the data.

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In the United States, the target populations of students corresponded to the fourth and eighth grades.

This study focused only on eighth grade. The TIMSS 2007 sample design, which consisted of a set of specifications for the target and survey populations, sampling frames, survey units, sample selection methods, sampling precision, and sample sizes. The sample design intended to ensure that the TIMSS 2007 survey data provide accurate information of national student populations.

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The TIMSS sampling protocol was designed to yield a sample that would be representative of students across the countries. According to Joncas (2008), the student sampling selection method used in the TIMSS 2007 is a systematic, three-stage stratified cluster sampling technique. This was performed by first randomly selecting schools and then from with those schools, randomly selecting classes, followed by selecting students. “This sampling method is a natural match with the hierarchical nature of the sampling units, with classes of students within selected schools” (Joncas, 2008). Joncas (2008) further explained that all participants consistently followed the sampling method specified by the TIMSS 2007 sample design with minimum deviations. This ensured that quality standards were maintained for all participants, avoiding the possibility that differences between countries in survey results could be attributable to the use of different sampling methodologies (Joncas, 2008).

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The sample design utilized by the TIMSS 2007 assessment is a three-stage stratified cluster sample.

School stratification was employed to improve the efficiency of the sample design and to ensure appropriate representation of specific groups in the sample (Joncas, 2008). According to Joncas (2008), the United States sampling frames was implicitly stratified by type of school (public and private), region of country (northeast, south east, mid-west and west), Community type (8 categories), and minority status (above or below 15% minority of the student population). There were 128 implicit strata.

Joncas (2008) explained that when this method is used, more reliable estimates will be the result. Schools from the same implicit stratum tend to have similar science achievement (Joncas, 2008).

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In order to obtain school samples that were representative of the student populations, The National Research Coordinators (NRC) of each participating country provided information about all schools where eighth grade students could be tested. Using a sampling frame based on the 2006 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) school sampling frame, the first-stage sampling units consisted of individual schools selected with probability proportionate to size (PPS)(Joncas, 2008). The measure of size was defined as the estimated number of students enrolled in the target grade, average student enrollment per grade, the number of classrooms in the target grade, or the student enrollment in the school (Joncas, 2008). The NRC also collected information describing school characteristics used for stratification purposes, such as type of school and demographic information. The NRC also collected information on whether or not that school already was sampled for a study other than TIMSS, because an overlapping control was required between TIMSS 2007 and other international studies Joncas (2008). Data for public schools were taken from the Common Core of Data (CCD), and data for private schools were taken from the Private School Universe Survey (PSS).

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The second-stage sampling units were intact mathematics classrooms within sampled schools. Schools provided lists of the eighth grade classrooms. Joncas (2008) explains that within schools, classrooms with fewer than 15 students were placed into pseudo-classrooms, so that each classroom on the school’s classroom sampling frame had at least 20 students. Joncas (2008) further explains that an equal probability sample of two classrooms was identified from the classroom frame for the school. In schools where there was only one classroom, this classroom was selected with certainty (Joncas, 2008). At the eighthgrade level, 253 pseudo classrooms were created, of which 58 were included in the final classroom sample. Countries were required to randomly select a minimum of one eligible classroom per target grade per school from a list of eligible classrooms prepared for each target grade (Joncas, 2008). Furthermore, countries were encouraged to select more than one eligible classroom per target grade per school. Given the nature of the sampling units in TIMSS 2007, listing all classes, along with the class sizes, within sampled schools that agreed to participate in the study was the only requirement for building the classsampling frame (Joncas, 2008). This list included all regular classes, in addition to any types of special education classes. Finally, within sampled classes, all students were listed.

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The third-stage sampling unit was students within sampled classrooms. All students in a sampled classroom were to be selected for the assessment. Joncas (2008) explained that the overall sample design for the United States was intended to approximate a self-weighing sample of students as much as possible, with each eighth grade student having equal probability for selection. Detailed information on sampling is provided in Olson, Martin, and Mullis (2008).

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