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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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Quantitative Descriptive Analysis of Sample Population Descriptive statistics from TIMSS 2007 showed that 100% of the sample population was from eighth grade integrated science courses. Descriptive analysis of the eighth grade teachers’ characteristics examined several dimensions and provided statistics to highlight the nature of the population from which the sample was derived. The highest level of formal education, the teachers’ indication of having a teaching license or certificate, and the teachers’ main area of study was explored. The teachers’ level of experience based on the number of years taught was examined. The teachers’ self-reported beliefs on preparedness to teach specific science content areas were investigated. The teachers’ self-reported instructional practices in the science classroom were examined. These analyses display the characteristics of the sample population.

The highest level of formal education, the teachers’ indication of having a teaching license or certificate, and teachers’ main area of study was explored. Thirty-seven percent earned only a Bachelor’s degree, while 63% held a Master’s degree or higher. Ninety-seven percent of the teachers in the sample population have a teaching license or certificate. The identification of the teachers’ major or main area of study was indicated as biology, physics, chemistry, and/or 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. Table 1 provides specific data concerning the teachers’ main area of study.

Table 1 Summary of Teachers’ Major or Main Area of Study

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sample population showed more teachers with 1 to 5 years of experience than any other age cluster (29.0%).

Approximately 22% of the teacher population taught 6 to 10 years. This information was summarized in Table 2.

Table 2 Summary of the Number of Years Taught

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The first question addressed by this study was to determine the orientation of science teachers, with respect to their preparedness to teach specific science content to

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beliefs on preparedness to teach specific science content areas were investigated. In the teacher’s questionnaire (Appendix B), teachers responded to how well they felt prepared to teach 23 specific concepts in the areas of

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responses were scored on a four-point, Likert Scale as not applicable; not well prepared; somewhat prepared; very well prepared; and were assigned scores of 0, 1, 2, and 3, respectively. The means from each subject area was

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means for teachers’ beliefs of preparedness to teach specific content areas.

Table 3 Summary of Teachers’ Beliefs of Preparedness to Teach Specific Science Content Areas

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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. According to the theoretical framework presented in this paper, teachers who value inquiry-based instruction as a means for student learning engage students in making observations;

pose questions; review what is already known in regards to experimental evidence; use tools to gather, analyze, and interpret data; propose answers explanations, and predictions; communicate the results; identify assumptions;

use critical and logical thinking; and consider alternative explanations; process information, communicate with groups, coach student actions, facilitate student thinking, model the learning process, and provide flexible use of materials (National Research Council (NRC), 1996 p. 23).

By contrast, teachers who value didactic instruction conceptualize instruction as the transmission of facts to students, who are seen as passive receptors. Didactic instruction typically uses lecture format and instructs the entire class as a unit. Knowledge is presented as fact where students’ prior experiences are not perceived 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 the use of textbooks (Smerdon, Burkam, & Lee, 1999).

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 inquiry-based 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. In order to eliminate bias in identification of variables for this study, 33 variables representing instructional practices that characterize both didactic and inquiry-based approaches, as recommended by the National Science Education Standards (NSES) and the framework outlined in the literature review were extracted from the teacher questionnaire. The instructional variables included various learning objectives, methods of instruction, and beliefs about learning science concepts.





Instructional methods were measured by responses to questions about the relative roles of computers, experiments, lectures, discussions, group work, individualization, homework, and assessment. For the purpose of content validity, nine secondary science teachers, with teaching experience, participated in the identification of the 33 extracted variables as either

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selection of variables were based on a 67% agreement of variables being identified as either didactic or inquirybased. As a result, ten variables were identified from the teacher questionnaire as being representative of inquirybased instruction and five variables were identified as being representative of didactic instruction.

Variable Questionnaire Type of Instruction Number Observe (BT4SCSON) 17a Inquiry Watchdem (BT4SCSWD) 17b Didactic Designexp (BT4SCSDP) 17c Inquiry Conductexp (BT4SCSEI) 17d Inquiry Smallgroups (BT4SCSSG) 17e Inquiry Readtext (BT4SCSRM) 17f Didactic Memorize (BT4SCSHP) 17g Didactic Useformulas (BT4SCSUP) 17h Didactic Giveexplan (BT4SCSGS) 17i Inquiry Dailylives (BT4SCSDL) 17j Inquiry Compexp (BT4SCAPE) 22a Inquiry Compsimulat (BT4SCANP) 22b Inquiry Compskills (BT4SCASP) 22c Didactic Compinfo (BT4SCALI) 22e Inquiry Companalyze (BT4SCAPA) 22f Inquiry Figure 2. Variables identified as inquiry-based instruction or didactic instruction with 67% agreement For the purpose of this study, the ten variables identified from the TIMSS 2007 teacher questionnaire as having the qualities of inquiry-based instruction were scored on a four-point, Likert Scale with the responses of every or almost every lesson; about half the lessons; some lessons; and never. Each were assigned values of 3, 2, 1, and 0, respectively. The means ranged from.70 to 2.34.

There were high indications (M=2.35) for teachers providing students opportunities to relate what they are learning in science to their daily lives and (M=2.28) for teachers providing students the opportunity to give explanations about something they are studying indicating the teachers used the techniques more than half the lessons they teach.

Five of the ten techniques of inquiry-based instruction were between 1.0 and 2.0 indicating the teachers used the techniques greater than some lessons, but less than half the lessons they teach. There were low indications among the teachers for asking the students to do experiments, study natural phenomena, and analyze data using computers (M=.70, M=.73, M=.89, respectively). The means for all 10 measures are reported in Table 4.

Table 4 Summary of Descriptive Analysis of Inquiry-Based Teaching to the TIMSS 2007 Class Using a Four-Point Likert-Scale

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and 3, respectively. The means ranged from 1.52 to 2.81.

The lowest indication (M=1.52) among the teachers was for having the students read their textbooks or other resource materials for less than half their lessons. Four of the five techniques of didactic instruction were above 1.00, but less than 3.00 indicating the teachers used the

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five measures are reported in Table 5.

Table 5 Summary of Descriptive Analysis of Didactic Teaching to the TIMSS 2007 Class Using a Four-Point Likert-Scale

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In addition to investigating and describing teachers’ characteristics and instructional practices from which the population was derived, the relationship between these

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analyses are presented.

Results of Correlation Analyses of Eighth Grade Science Teachers’ Self-Reported Beliefs about Preparedness to Teach Specific Science Content Areas and Their Self-Reported

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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, Pearson correlation coefficients for items that measured the analysis between eighth grade science teachers’ self-reported beliefs for preparedness to teach specific science content areas and their self-reported use of inquiry-based instructional practices were computed. Data indicated a statistically significant positive relationship existed between teachers’ self-reported use of inquiry-based instruction and preparedness to teach biology (.071), chemistry (.060), and physics (.041), respectively. There was a statistically significant negative relationship between teachers’ selfreported use of inquiry-based instruction practices and preparedness to teach earth science (-.032). Teachers who indicated they have feelings of preparedness to teach biology, chemistry, and physic, respectively, indicated they use inquiry-based instructional practices more frequently. Teacher who indicated having lesser feelings of preparedness in earth science indicated they use inquiry-based instructional practices more frequently.

Table 6 presents the correlation coefficients.

Table 6 Summary of Correlation Analysis between 8th Grade Science Teachers’ Self-Reported Beliefs for Preparedness to Teach Specific Science Content Areas and their Self-Reported Inquiry-based Instructional Practices

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Then, Pearson correlation coefficients were computed to examine if a relationship existed between eighth grade science teachers’ main area of study and their selfreported beliefs about their preparedness to teach specific

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information that could help explain the relationship between teachers’ beliefs about preparedness to teach science content and their self-reported instructional practices in teaching science to eighth grade science students. Table 7 presents the correlations between the eighth grade science teachers’ four main areas of study and their self-reported beliefs of preparedness to teach the four specific science content areas.

Table 7 Summary of Correlation Analysis between 8th Grade Science Teachers’ Main Area of Study and their Self-Reported Beliefs on Preparedness to Teach Specific Science Content Areas

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Notes: 1. Houseweight has been applied to all correlation statistics 2. ** p.01 Results 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 at the p.01 level. There was a statistically significant positive correlation between teachers who indicated biology as their main area of study and their self-reported feelings of preparedness to teach chemistry, but a statistically significant negative correlation for feelings of preparedness to teach earth science. There was a statistically significant positive correlation between teachers who indicated chemistry as their main area of study and their self-reported feeling of preparedness to teach physics, but a statistically significant negative correlation for feelings of preparedness to teach earth science. There was a statistically significant positive correlation between teachers who indicated physics as their main area of study and their self-reported feeling of preparedness to teach chemistry and earth science. There was a statistically significant positive correlation between teachers who indicated earth science as their main area of study and their self-reported feeling of preparedness to teach physics, but a statistically significant negative correlation for feelings of preparedness to teach biology and chemistry.

There was not a statistically significant correlation between teachers who indicated biology as their main area of study and their self-reported feelings of preparedness to teach physics. There was not a statistically significant correlation between teachers who indicated chemistry as their main area of study and their selfreported feeling of preparedness for biology. There was not a statistically significant correlation between teachers who indicated physics as their main area of study and their self-reported feeling of preparedness for biology. There was not a statistically significant correlation between teachers who indicated earth science as their main area of study and their self-reported feeling of preparedness for chemistry. The above-mentioned correlations indicated that teachers who specify a certain science subject area as their main area of study do not necessarily give teachers a feeling of preparedness to teach all science subject areas.

Results of Correlation Analyses between Eighth Grade Student Science Achievement and Science Teachers’ SelfReported Beliefs about Preparedness to Teach Specific

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