K-12 teacher professional growth for nature of science and scientific inquiry: Promoting reflection through exemplars

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Parrish, Jennifer Castle
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Middle Tennessee State University
Developing K-12 science teachers’ understandings of nature of science (NOS) and scientific inquiry (SI) continues to be a major goal of science education reform. There is consensus among science teacher educators that developing students’ NOS and SI understandings is vital to the development of a scientifically literate citizenry. However, two decades of research have shown that science teachers continue to hold views of NOS and SI incongruent with reform recommendations.
The research presented here consists of two research studies which examined the effectiveness of explicit and reflective (ER) interventions designed to promote teacher professional growth for NOS and SI. Following a brief introduction to the problem (Chapter 1) the dissertation begins with a comprehensive review of the results of ER interventions to promote K-12 teacher professional growth (Chapter 2). Next, a mixed- methods, quasi-experimental study design was used to compare the influence of ER NOS interventions on preservice elementary teachers’ conceptions of NOS and SI and their intentions to integrate NOS in their future classroom practice (Chapter 3). One course section received an ER NOS intervention using NOS standards documents (NOSSE ER Strategy) while the other group received an ER NOS intervention that incorporated ostensive exemplars (NOS Example Strategy). Participant reflection was assessed as they engaged in the interventions and NOS and SI conceptions and intentions were compared before and after the intervention. Both interventions promoted teacher reflection on NOS and SI, but participants in the strategy group that incorporated ostensive exemplars exhibited more (d = 1.07) reflection, though these were not statistically significantly different. Both interventions promoted positive changes in preservice teachers’ conceptions for NOS and SI. Participants in the NOS Example Strategy group perceived themselves as more ready to integrate NOS in their future classroom practice than participants in the NOSSE ER Strategy group.
Study two (Chapter 4) examined how and to what extent using ostensive exemplars promoted teacher professional growth for NOS and SI for two high school biology teachers. Results indicated that the use of students’ exemplar responses promoted teacher reflection, resulting in positive changes for NOS and SI conceptions and intentions to integrate NOS in classroom instruction. The dissertation concludes with a short summary of the relevant results and their impact for future ER NOS interventions to target teacher professional growth (Chapter 5).
Explicit and Reflective, Interconnected Model of Teache, Intervention, K-12 Teachers, Nature of Science, Scientific Inquiry