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					        Science Inquiry in
  Pennsylvania Elementary
              Classrooms
Connections to the Standards and
   Opportunities for Professional
                   Development.

           Kathleen M. Jones
     Assistant Professor of Education
     Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA
What is inquiry
as defined by the NSES?
   Active construction of ideas and
    explanations
   Asking questions
   Planning and conducting experiments
   Gathering data
   Using evidence to explain
   Communicating results
Natural Process of Science
   Question
   Observe
   Gather data
   Explain significance
   Sharing of results highlights significance

   NOT a prescribed 5, 6, 7 step scientific method,
    but rather fluid
“Hands-on” vs. Inquiry


   “Conducting hands-on science
    activities does not guarantee inquiry,
    nor is reading about science
    incompatible with inquiry” (NRC,
    1996).
Hands-on, Minds-on
   Connects scientific knowledge and
    understanding.
   Communicating and defending their
    understandings.
Science for All Americans
   Assumption that students understand
       Multiple choice testing
       Right words

    Over-inflated understanding

    Rutherford and Ahlgren (1989)
Current Research
   Focuses primarily on pre-service teachers

   2000 National Survey of Science and
    Mathematics Education, Horizon
    Research, Inc.
Research Question #1
1.   Do Pennsylvania elementary teachers
     define science inquiry in a similar way as
     it is defined by the NSES?
Sub-questions for Q 1:
   A. Familiarity with National and state
    standards
   B. Recognition of definitions when literally
    stated
   C. Recognition of definitions in context
    (scenarios)
Results: Inquiry stated literally
                             Mean   SD

   Question                 4.38   .68
   Evidence                 4.42   .71
   Prior knowledge          4.60   .66
   Share (teacher only)     2.43   1.12
   Share with others        3.89   .91
   Alternate explanations   4.02   .86
Inquiry in Context
  Open-ended questions:
If you were observing a science lesson in the
   elementary classroom, what specifically would
   you look for to determine if it was an inquiry-
   based lesson or not an inquiry-based lesson?

Mean 1.98 (very little understanding)
SD of 1.12
Inquiry in Context #2
   Mr. Smith’s class is up , moving around to various lab
    stations, doing “hands-on” activities, exploring simple
    machines. At the end of the class, Mr. Smith collects all
    the worksheets and the students move to the next
    subject.
     Is this an inquiry lesson? Explain
     What do you think happened prior to this lesson?

     What do you think will happen tomorrow in science class?

    Mean: 3.03 (Basic understanding)
    SD: 3.00
Inquiry in Context #3
   As you walk into Mrs. Brown’s class, you
    observe a question on the board, “What do owls
    eat?” Some students are working on the
    computer accessing the Internet about owls,
    others are using the class library to find books
    on owls and another group are pulling apart owl
    pellets, categorizing the various bones.
       Is this an inquiry lesson? Explain
       What do you think happened prior to this lesson?
       What do you think will happen tomorrow in science class?
   Mean 3.16 (Basic Understanding) SD 3.00
Research Question 2
   What is the relationship between self-
    reported familiarity with NSES and
    Pennsylvania Standards, recognizing
    NSES definitions of science inquiry literally
    and in context.
Results: Self reported familiarity
   National Science Education Standards:
       38% familiar and refer to them
       3% very familiar and refer to them often

   PA Science and Technology
       60% familiar and refer to them
       13% very familiar and refer to them often

   PA Environment and Ecology
       36% familiar and refer to them
       9% very familiar and refer to them often
Research Question #3
   To what degree do Pennsylvania teachers
    agree with accepted principles of effective
    professional development?
Results: Accepted principles of
Professional Development
   Long –term commitment
   Collaborative work
   Reflection


   but… 79% also agreed or strongly agreed
    to having time to work individually in the
    classroom.
Collaboration with others
According to the 2000 National Survey –
 second most popular form of PD

   33% of teachers are observing each other
       Pennsylvania sample 27% (some to all the time)
   27% meeting to discuss science teaching
       Pennsylvania sample 22% (some or all the time)
Research Question #4
   To what degree are Pennsylvania
    teachers willing to participate in
    professional development activities that
    match accepted principles of professional
    development when the professional
    development is focused on science
    inquiry?
Results
   71% willing   to attend summer workshops
    (daylong)
   21% willing   to attend evening workshops
   16% willing   to attend weeklong residential
   62% willing   to meet during the school year
       35% after school
       24% before school
       58% during school
       70% during inservice
Reading and Math Emphasis
K-3 classrooms               4-6 classrooms
  115 minutes reading          96 minutes reading
  52 minutes math              60 minutes math
  23 minutes on                31 minutes on
  science                      science
  21 minutes on social         33 minutes on social
      studies                      studies

Pennsylvania results K-6 (not yet split out) averaging 22
minutes/day for science .
Teachers’ Comfort with Science
   “Majority of elementary teachers do not
    feel equally qualified to teach all academic
    subjects with preparedness to teach
    science paling in comparison to math,
    language arts and social studies” (Fulp,
    2002).
High Quality PD Opportunities
   Opportunities to actively engage in inquiry
    based lessons
       Long-term commitment
       Collaborative approach allowing sharing and
        exchange of ideas
       Teacher-leaders
       Support for meeting during the school day
Scientifically Literate
 Not everyone is going to be a scientist
 People need to be prepared to make
  decisions
 Need to understand how scientists work to
  solve problems
Teachers are a major part of this goal and
  need the support to be able to deliver.

				
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