Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Science inquiry learning environments created by National Board Certified Teachers
by Saderholm, Jon, Ph.D., University of Louisville, 2007, 233; 3286743
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to discern what differences exist between the science inquiry learning environments created by National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) and non-NBCTs. Four research questions organized the data collection and analysis: (a) How do National Board Certified science teachers' knowledge of the nature of science differ from that of their non-NBCT counterparts? (b) How do the frequencies of student science inquiry behaviors supported by in middle/secondary learning environments created by NBCTs differ from those created by their non-NBCT counterparts? (c) What is the relationship between the frequency of students' science inquiry behaviors and their science reasoning and understanding of the nature of science? (d) What is the impact of teacher perceptions factors impacting curriculum and limiting inquiry on the existence of inquiry learning environments?

The setting in which this study was conducted was middle and high schools in Kentucky during the period between October 2006 and January 2007. The population sampled for the study was middle and secondary science teachers certified to teach in Kentucky. Of importance among those were the approximately 70 National Board Certified middle and high school science teachers. The teacher sample consisted of 50 teachers, of whom 19 were NBCTs and 31 were non-NBCTs.

This study compared the science inquiry teaching environments created by NBCTs and non-NBCTs along with their consequent effect on the science reasoning and nature of science (NOS) understanding of their students. In addition, it examined the relationship with these science inquiry environments of other teacher characteristics along with teacher perception of factors influencing curriculum and factors limiting inquiry.

This study used a multi-level mixed methodology study incorporating both quantitative and qualitative measures of both teachers and their students. It was a quasi-experimental design using non-random assignment of participants to treatment and control groups and dependent pre- and post-tests (Shadish, Cook, & Campbell, 2002). Teacher and student NOS understanding was measured using the Student Understanding of Science and Science Inquiry (SUSSI) instrument (Liang, et. al, 2006). Science inquiry environment was measured with the Elementary Science Inquiry Survey (ESIS) (Dunbar, 2002) which was given both to teachers and their students. Science inquiry environment measurements were triangulated with observations of a stratified random sub-sample of participating teachers. Observations were structured using the low-inference Collaboratives for Excellence in Teaching Practice (CETP) Classroom Observation Protocol (COP) (Lawrenz, Huffman, & Appleldoorn 2002), and the high-inference Reform Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) (Piburn & Sawada, 2000).

NBCTs possessed more informed view of NOS than did non-NBCTs. Additionally, high school science teachers possessed more informed views regarding NOS than did middle school science teachers, with the most informed views belonging to high school science NBCTs. High school science NBCTs created learning environments in which students engaged in science inquiry behaviors significantly more frequently than did high school science non-NBCTs. Middle school science NBCTs, on the other hand, did not create learning environments that differed in significant ways from those of middle school science non-NBCTs. Students of high school science NBCTs possessed significantly higher science reasoning than did students of high school science non-NBCTs. Middle school students of science NBCTs possessed no more science reasoning ability than did middle school students of science non-NBCTs. NOS understanding displayed by students of both middle school and high school science NBCTs was not distinguished from students of non-NBCTs.

Classroom science inquiry environment created by non-NBCTs were correlated with science teachers' perceptions of factors determining the curriculum, and the factors limiting inquiry. NBCT classroom science inquiry environment were not correlated with science teacher perceptions. They were, however, strongly correlated with science teacher attendance at science workshops and negatively correlated with teacher perception that experience limits inquiry.

The results of this study have implications for policy, practice, and research. Having a science teacher who is an NBCT appears to benefit high school students; however, the benefit for students of middle school science NBCTs appears only when the teacher is also experienced. Additionally, science NBCTs appear to be able to create more controlled science inquiry learning environments than do science non-NBCTs. At the high school level the practice of using data to explain patterns appears to positively affect student science reasoning. Implications results of this study have for further research include examining the differences of the NBPTS certification process for middle and high school teachers; deeper investigation of the causes of the differences in science reasoning between students of NBCTs and non-NBCTs; and studies of the relationship between the NBPTS certification process and teacher efficacy and personal agency.

Indexing (document details)
School: University of Louisville
School Location: United States -- Kentucky
Source: DAI-A 68/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Secondary education, Science education
Keywords: High school, Inquiry-based science, Learning environments, Middle school, National Board Certified, Science
Publication Number: 3286743
ISBN: 978-0-549-29731-4
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