Type of Document Dissertation Author Atar, Hakan Yavuz Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-07102007-151702 Title Investigating Inquiry Beliefs and Nature of Science (NOS) conceptions of Science Teachers as Revealed through Online Learning Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Middle and Secondary Education, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Alejandro Gallard Committee Chair Janice Flake Committee Member Jeffrey Chanton Committee Member Nancy Davis Committee Member Keywords
- Nature of Science Conceptions
- Reform in Science Education
- Professional Development
- Online learning
- Inquiry learning
Date of Defense 2007-06-21 Availability unrestricted AbstractCreating a scientifically literate society appears to be the major goal of recent science education reform efforts (Abd-El-Khalick, Boujaoude, Dushl, Lederman, Hofstein, Niaz, Tregust, & Tuan, 2004). Recent national reports in the U.S, such as Shaping the Future, New Expectations for Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology (NSF,1996), Inquiry in Science and In Classroom,. Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards (NRC, 2001), Pursuing excellence: Comparison of international eight-grade mathematics and science achievement from a U.S. perspective (NCES, 2001), and Standards for Science Teacher Preparation (NSTA 2003) appear to agree on one thing: the vision of creating a scientifically literate society. It appears from science education literature that the two important components of being a scientifically literate individual are developing an understanding of nature of science and ability to conduct scientific inquiries. Unfortunately, even though teaching science through inquiry has been recommended in national reports since the 1950’s, it has yet to find its way into many science classrooms (Blanchard, 2006; Yerrick, 2000). Science education literature identfies several factors for this including: 1)lack of content knowledge (Anderson, 2002; Lee, Hart Cuevas, & Enders, 2004; Loucks-Horsely, Hewson, Love, & Stiles, 1998; Moscovici, 1999; Smith & Naele, 1989; Smith, 1989); 2)high stake tests (Aydeniz, 2006); 3) teachers’ conflicting beliefs with inquiry-based science education reform (Blanchard, 2006; Wallace & Kang, 2004) ; and, 4) lack of collaboration and forums for communication (Anderson, 2002; Davis, 2003; Loucks-Horsely, Hewson, Love, & Stiles, 1998; Wallace & Kang, 2004). In addition to the factors stated above this study suggest that some of the issues and problems that have impeded inquiry instruction to become the primary approach to teaching science in many science classrooms might be related to teachers NOS conceptions. Developing desired understanding of nature of science conceptions and having an adequate experience with inquiry learning is especially important for science teachers because science education literature suggests that the development of teachers’ nature of science conceptions is influenced by their experiences with inquiry science (Akerson et. al. 2000) and implementation of science lessons reflect teachers’ NOS conceptions (Abd-EL-Khalick & Boujaoude, 1997; Matson & Parsons, 1998; Rosenthal, 1993; Trowbridge, Bybee & Powell, 2000; Turner & Sullenger, 1999). Furthermore, the impediments to successful integration of inquiry based science instruction from teachers’ perspective are particularly important, as they are the implementers of inquiry based science education reform.
The purpose of this study is to understand the relationship between the teachers’ NOS conceptions and their inquiry beliefs and practices in their classrooms and how this relationship impedes or contributes to the implementation of inquiry based science education reform efforts.
The participants of this study were in-service teachers who were accepted into the online Masters Program in science education program at a southern university. Three online courses offered in the summer semester of 2005 constituted the research setting of this study: (1) Special Problems in the Teaching of Secondary School Science: Nature of Science & Science Teaching, (2) Curriculum in Science Education, and (3) Colloquium. Multiple data sources were used for data triangulation (Miles & Huberman, 1984; Yin, 1994) in order to understand the relationship between participants’ NOS views and their conceptions and beliefs about inquiry-based science teaching. These include: (1) VNOS questionnaire, (2) Electronic postings, (3) Semi-structured interviews, (4) email correspondence, and (5) videotapes.
The study revealed that the relationship between the teachers’ NOS conceptions and their inquiry beliefs and practices is far from being simple and linear. Data suggests that the teachers’ sophistication of NOS conceptions influence their perception of inquiry science instruction in variety of ways. In a nutshell, these include: 1) The teachers become more confident in their ability to implement inquiry-based science classes; 2) Better understanding of NOS conceptions assists the teachers develop a higher appreciation of inquiry science instruction; 3) The teachers’ misconceptions about nature of science appear to be connected to their misconceptions about inquiry science instruction; 4) A better understanding of NOS concepts seems to have stimulate the teachers to put more emphasis on some aspects of inquiry more than others; and 5) Sophistication of teachers’ NOS conceptions influences their decisions about the type of inquiry they plan to incorporate in their instruction.
This study also suggests that enhancing teachers’ NOS conceptions should be among the main objectives of inquiry-based professional development programs and courses that are taught in science education programs. Science education literature suggests that teachers’ resistances to adopting inquiry-based science instruction may be related to their inadequate or inappropriate knowledge of the nature of science (Lederman & O’ Malley, 1990; Lederman, 1992; Ryan & Aikenhead, 1992). This study reveals that enhancing NOS conceptions helps teachers in their efforts to integrate inquiry into their instruction by boosting their confidence in their abilities to teach science through inquiry. This study reveals that especially teachers who lack strong science backgrounds and prior experience with inquiry science are at risk. Not having a strong background in science and lacking extensive experience with inquiry science negatively influences the teachers’ confidence and thus delays their efforts to implement inquiry-based science lessons.
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