Author

Amy B. Slack

Date of Award

6-12-2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Lisa M. Martin-Hansen - Chair

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine preservice science teachers’ experiences with repeated scientific inquiry (SI) activities. The National Science Education Standards (National Research Council, 1996) stress students should understand and possess the abilities to do SI. For students to meet these standards, science teachers must understand and be able to perform SI; however, previous research demonstrated that many teachers have naïve understandings in this area. Teacher preparation programs provide an opportunity to facilitate the development of inquiry understandings and abilities. In this study, preservice science teachers had experiences with two inquiry activities that were repeated three times each. The research questions for this study were (a) How do preservice science teachers’ describe their experiences with repeated, guided inquiry activities? (b) What are preservice science teachers’ understandings and abilities of SI? This study was conducted at a large, urban university in the southeastern United States. The 5 participants had bachelor’s degrees in science and were enrolled in a graduate science education methods course. The researcher was one of the course instructors but did not lead the activities. Case study methodology was used. Data was collected from a demographic survey, an open-ended questionnaire with follow-up interviews, the researcher’s observations, participants’ lab notes, personal interviews, and participants’ journals. Data were coded and analyzed through chronological data matrices to identify patterns in participants’ experiences. The five domains identified in this study were understandings of SI, abilities to conduct SI, personal feelings about the experience, science content knowledge, and classroom implications. Through analysis of themes identified within each domain, the four conclusions made about these preservice teachers’ experiences with SI were that the experience increased their abilities to conduct inquiry, increased their understanding of how they might use SI in their classroom, increased their understanding of why variables are used in experiments, and did not increase their physics content knowledge. These conclusions suggest that preservice science teachers having repeated, guided experiences with inquiry increase their abilities to conduct SI and consider how inquiry could be used in their future science classrooms.

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