Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

Exploring Elementary Pre-Service Teachers' Experiences and Learning Outcomes in a Revised Inquiry-Based Science Lesson: An Action Research

Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

Exploring Elementary Pre-Service Teachers' Experiences and Learning Outcomes in a Revised Inquiry-Based Science Lesson: An Action Research

Article excerpt

Abstract

In order for teachers to implement inquiry-based teaching practices, they must have experienced inquiry-based learning especially during science content and methods courses. Although the impacts of inquiry-based instruction on various cognitive and affective domains have been studied and documented little attention has been paid to how PSTs experience inquiry in these classrooms. The aim of this action research project was to explore our instructional strategies and elementary PSTs' learning experiences as we developed and implemented an inquiry-based lesson in a science content course for elementary education students. Video observation data, instructor reflections, and student reflections were analyzed to shed light on students' conceptual understanding of the physical science concept, their learning experiences including team interactions, motivation and interest, and concerns and frustrations, as well as the role of the instructor in the revised lesson.

Keywords: action research, pre-service teachers, inquiry, teacher education, science content course, learning experience

1. Introduction

The science education community's focus on inquiry-based science instruction is reflected in numerous national and statewide reform initiatives such as the National Research Council's (1996) National Science Education Standards (NSES). According to the NSES, inquiry ought to be addressed as a science instructional approach and science content by immersing students in various tasks and cognitive processes that scientists are constantly involved in including making observations, asking questions, planning and conducting investigations, collecting and analyzing data, and proposing and communicating explanations. Learning science through inquiry "requires identification of assumptions, use of critical and logical thinking, and consideration of alternative explanations (NSES, p. 23)."

Additionally, the teaching standards in the NSES document further emphasize the value of educating and encouraging teachers to engage students in inquiry-based learning experiences as described above (NRC, 2000). In order for teachers to implement inquiry-based teaching practices, they must themselves possess an adequate understanding of the process of scientific inquiry and inquiry-based instruction. Unfortunately, for many teachers, inquiry-based instruction may pose a tremendous challenge mainly because they have had little or no inquiry-based science learning experience during both their K-12 education and teacher preparation programs (Loucks-Horsley, Hewson, Love, & Stiles, 1998, 2003). This holds particularly true for elementary teachers who have historically been shown to be more reluctant or ill equipped to teach science or to do so as aligned with the current inquiry-centered reform initiatives (Authorl; Ginns & Watters, 1990; Riggs, 1991). Furthermore, elementary pre-service teachers tend to view physical sciences, including physics and chemistry, as the most difficult and challenging areas in science (Abell & Bryan, 1997).

Encouraging teachers to incorporate inquiry-based teaching in their classrooms will be futile if they lack an understanding of what inquiry-based learning and teaching should look like. This lack of understanding on the part of teachers will often lead to feeling detached and their inability to create such learning environments. Therefore, it is imperative that teacher candidates, particularly elementary pre-service teachers (PSTs), gain firsthand experience and develop a more in-depth understanding of inquiry-based learning as part of their training, especially in science content courses, so as not to replicate and reinforce their previous traditional science experiences. How elementary PSTs experience science and learning in such settings will be extremely critical in shaping how they teach science concepts in their future classrooms.

Numerous studies in the science education literature document the impact of inquiry or reform-based teacher education courses on PSTs' attitude toward science and science teaching, views of nature of science, beliefs about science and science teaching, self-efficacy, and content knowledge (e. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.