Date of Award

Winter 12-18-2019

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Teaching

Advisor

Mitchell Bruce

Second Committee Member

Alice Bruce

Third Committee Member

Michael Wittmann

Abstract

The National Science Teachers Association recommends that all science teachers use instructional practices that support scientific inquiry, in alignment with Next Generation Science Standards that integrate content with inquiry practices. However, research has shown that many science teachers do not have robust understandings and experiences of scientific inquiry or may not manifest it successfully in their classroom practices. This study investigates teachers’ learning of inquiry elements including scientific communication skills and evidence and reasoning to support claims, through the use of iterative inquiry-based chemistry activities. The study was conducted during Professional Development (PD) in the context of a rural Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP). We asked three major questions related to the effects of iterating inquiry activities: 1. What was the effect of the professional development on teacher’s scientific communication skills? 2. In what ways did the professional development affect the use of evidence and reasoning in supporting claims? 3. What was the effect of the professional development on teacher’s understanding of inquiry? Our research questions are chosen to evaluate the impact of a designed professional development experience embedding components of effective PD and our iterative model. The workshop offered a variety of activities that were focused on content information and discussions of teacher’s gaps in understanding. The PD participants conducted activities including inquiry-based laboratories, content presentations, chemistry theory, clicker questions, discussions, and demonstrations. The iterative inquiry chemistry workshop model included an iterative design offered to the cohort. The five steps of the iterative activity were inquiry, data collection, data analysis, poster creation, and community discussion. The iterative experience was initiated with guided inquiry and then moved to more open inquiry. At the end of each inquiry iteration, groups of teachers constructed posters. The posters scientifically communicated their experimental findings and were used as a data source for this study. The data sources included pre and post surveys, posters that were constructed at the end after each iteration of the activity, and interviews with teachers (1 month and 18 months) following completion of the workshop. Data collected during the workshop was used to evaluate our claims regarding the workshop’s effectiveness. The data sources were analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively to evaluate our research questions. Pre and post surveys provided insight into teacher’s scientific understanding as well as qualitative data used to assess the workshop’s impact. The posters created at the conclusion of each laboratory explicitly communicate the teacher’s scientific findings and were analyzed with a rubric that was designed to measure participant’s communication of informational elements, data, and conclusive findings. The short and long term teacher interviews illuminated the impact on teacher’s instruction, as it pertains to strategies and techniques learned during the iterative inquiry chemistry workshop. The qualitative and quantitative data collected were assessed for commonalties to provide evidence in support of three claims. The first claim was workshop participants increased their understandings of the practice of scientific communication and gained practical skills in scientific communication. The second claim was teachers’ understandings of using evidence and reasoning to support claims improved during the iterative workshop. The third claim was the iterative nature of the iterative inquiry chemistry workshop facilitated an increase in teacher’s understanding of scientific inquiry.

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