An educational ethnography of teacher developed science curriculum implementation : enacting conceptual change based science inquiry with Hispanic students
Brunsell, Eric Steven.
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An achievement gap exists between White and Hispanic students in the United States. Research has shown that improving the quality of instruction for minority students is an effective way to narrow this gap. Science education reform movements emphasize that science should be taught using a science inquiry approach. Extensive research in teaching and learning science also shows that a conceptual change model of teaching is effective in helping students learn science. Finally, research into how Hispanic students learn best has provided a number of suggestions for science instruction. The Inquiry for Conceptual Change model merges these three research strands into a comprehensive yet accessible model for instruction. This study investigates two questions. First, what are teachers' perceptions of science inquiry and its implementation in the classroom? Second, how does the use of the Inquiry for Conceptual Change model affect the learning of students in a predominantly Hispanic, urban neighborhood.Five teachers participated in a professional development project where they developed and implemented a science unit based on the Inquiry for Conceptual Change model. Three units were developed and implemented for this study. This is a qualitative study that included data from interviews, participant reflections and journals, student pre- and post- assessments, and researcher observations. This study provides an in-depth description of the role of professional development in helping teachers understand how science inquiry can be used to improve instructional quality for students in a predominantly Hispanic, urban neighborhood. These teachers demonstrated that it is important for professional development to be collaborative and provide opportunities for teachers to enact and reflect on new teaching paradigms. This study also shows promising results for the ability of the Inquiry for Conceptual Change model to improve student learning.