Date of Award

5-2004

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Dr. Claudia T. Melear

Committee Members

Dr. Russell L. French, Dr. Michael Bentley, Dr. Leslie G. Hickok

Abstract

Five urban teachers completed a total of 50 contact hours, over a seven month period, of professional development, in which they: participated in authentic, inquiry based experiences facilitated by a scientist; learned new science content related to the nature of science and scientific inquiry; developed inquiry-based lesson plans to implement in their classrooms; and developed science-specific strategies to mentor novice and experienced teachers. The focus of this research was to determine changes in their: beliefs and instructional practices; understanding of scientific literacy; and efficacy toward mentoring other teachers.

A collective case study methodology was used in which participants completed questionnaires and were observed and interviewed, prior to and at the completion of the course. They were also asked to complete reflective journal questions during the course. While the teachers' beliefs did not change as measured by the Teacher's Pedagogical Philosophy Interview (TPPI) (teacher-centered beliefs for "Teacher Actions" and "Teacher and Content"; conceptual/student-centered for "Student Actions" and "Philosophy of Teaching"), their teacher-centered behaviors changed to conceptual/student-centered as measured by the Secondary Science Teachers Analysis Matrix (STAM). Their responses to the Constructivist Learning Environment Survey (CLES) generally correlated with their post-STAM results. Participants gained a better understanding of the creative aspect of the nature of science as measured by the Modified Nature of Scientific Knowledge Scale (MNSKS) instrument, while two novice teachers improved their personal science teaching efficacy after participation in the course as measured by the Science Teaching Efficacy Belief Instrument (STEBI). Four of the five teachers felt better prepared to mentor others to use inquiry-based instruction. In contrast to these positive trends, their outcome expectancy beliefs (STEBI subscale) were generally lower than their perceived personal teaching efficacy before and after the course, which could be an indicator of the environment in urban schools where there is often little support or equipment for innovative practices in science. Generally there was a shift from traditional to constructivist instructional practices as measured by the STAM, while results varied for teacher beliefs and efficacy regarding science instruction as measured by the TPPI, CLES, and STEBI and teachers’ understanding of the nature of science as measured by the MNSKS.

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