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What can we learn from assessing preservice elementary science teachers’ conception of and abilities to conduct science inquiry? Brenda M. Capobianco David.

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Presentation on theme: "What can we learn from assessing preservice elementary science teachers’ conception of and abilities to conduct science inquiry? Brenda M. Capobianco David."— Presentation transcript:

1 What can we learn from assessing preservice elementary science teachers’ conception of and abilities to conduct science inquiry? Brenda M. Capobianco David Eichinger John Staver Purdue University Paper presented at the annual meeting for the Association of Science Teacher Education, January 9-12, 2008

2 Purpose of the study Examine students’ conceptions of and abilities to do inquiry Identify the degree to which students’ conceptions of inquiry and abilities to do inquiry revealed in on line assessments compare/contrast to those responses in inquiry tasks Describe ways these assessments can inform what and how students are learning in elementary science teacher education program

3 Defining inquiry Degree of teacher Degree of student involvement/directionindependence/direction CONFIRMATION STRUCTURED GUIDED INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INQUIRY INQURY Adapted from Brown & Melar, 2006; Crawford, 2007; Keys & Kennedy, 1999, Luera & Otto, 2005; McNeill & Krajcik, 2007; Smolleck, Zembal-Saul & Yoder, 2006; Windschitl, 2003

4 Context of the study 1,000 undergraduates in the program 30 faculty 5 faculty from the College of Science 15 credit laboratory-based hrs in science BIO 205 Biology for elementary school teachers EAS 312 Environmental science capstone EDCI 365 Teaching science in the elementary school

5 Participants Cohort I(BIO 205) 3 males; 5 females [n=8] Cohort II (EAS 312)3 males; 4 females [n=7] Cohort III (EDCI 365)4 males; 6 females [n=10] White, Caucasian 3 participants = change of major from science to el ed

6 Data collection Individual inquiry tasks – 4 tasks/semester – 124 tasks (total) On-line assessment – 2 assessments/semester – 62 assessments (total) Individual semi-structured interview – 2 interviews/semester – 62 interviews (total)

7 Task Task I – inquiry Explain how you can find out the volume of a solid object, such as a small rock, using only water and either a measuring cup or a graduated cylinder Task II – inquiry-based lesson plan Design an inquiry-based science lesson that encourages children to investigate which rock (out of five small rocks) has the greatest volume using only water and either a measuring cup or a graduate cylinder

8 On-line assessment items Cohort I and II Student-oriented Students identify unknown powders using evidence from a previous lab activity Students generate their own questions on seeds and seed germination Cohort III Teacher-oriented The teacher encourages students to plan and conduct an investigation that identifies unknown powders The teacher asks students how they can use evidence from their investigations to explain why some of the powders changed color and released heat

9 Data analysis Content analysis (Krippendorf, 2004; Patton, 1990) to identify characteristics students assigned to their responses and how these did/did not align with NRC (2000)

10 Elementary education students’ abilities to do inquiry Abilities Cohort I (n=8) (volume) Cohort II (n=7) (plant) Cohort III (n=10) (volume) Procedure Use of tools & measurement Identify variables NA46 Record data Conceptual understanding

11 Elementary education students’ abilities to do design an inquiry-based lesson Common instructional components shared by students Cohort I (n=8) Cohort II (n=7) Cohort III (n=10) Gather prior knowledge Using tools & measurement *6T 2L 6T 2L 6T 1L 3T 4L 10T3T 7L Priority to data as evidence *5T 3L 7T 1L 7T3T 4L 10T2T 8L Explanation of data *002T1T2T8T Assessment * Learner-directed (L) Teacher-directed (T)

12 Scenario for Cohort I and II assessment Students…. InquiryNot Inquiry Pre %Post %Pre %Post % identify unknown powders using evidence 100 [I] 100 [II] 100 [I] 100 [II] after viewing a film on the water cycle 75 [I] 58 [II] 88 [I] 71 [II] devise a way to separate a mixture 88 [I] 71 [II] 88 [I] 86 [II] explain how after a volcano erupts 63 [I] 71 [II] 88 [I] 100 [II] engage in a class discussion about results 75 [I] 71 [II] 88 [I] 100 [II] make presentations of data collected 50 [I] 43 [II] 63 [I] 43 [II] generate their own questions 63 [I] 86 [II] 88 [I] 100 [II] plan seed investigations to gather data 71 [I] 86 [II] 100 [I] 86 [II] develop their own classification system 75 [I] 71 [II] 75 [I] 86 [II] work in the library and on the Internet collecting information 63 [I] 86 [II] 75 [I] 100 [II]

13 Performance on On-line Assessment CohortPre Ave (%) Common characteristics revealed in students’ explanations for inquiry Students are: Post Ave (%) Common characteristics revealed in students’ explanations for inquiry Students are: I64 Finding out Investigating Using hands on Using prior knowledge 86 Asking questions Devising a plan to explore Q Discovering on their own Exploring their own ideas & Q II73 Asking questions Experimenting Investigating 89 Using data to support claims Observing & recording msrmts Finding out answer to own Q via data collection & analysis III55 Asking questions Investigating Exploring Trial and error 93 Doing investigation independently Using data as evidence Devising their own system

14 Conceptualizing and characterizing inquiry Abilities Continuum of how Cohorts I, II, and III characterize inquiry Naïve Informed Characterizing inquiry I (pre & post) via tasksII (pre &post) III (pre & post) Characterizing inquiryI (pre & post) via lesson plansII (pre & post) III (pre) III (post) Characterizing inquiryI (pre) I (post) via on line assessment II (pre) II (post) III(pre)III(post)

15 Limitations Tasks and On-line assessment – Consistency across cohorts – Consistency among items on both assessments – Nature of the items may dictate responses Interpretation of scenarios varied among participants Frequency of administration

16 What and how are students learning? Students enter the program with naïve conceptions of inquiry Students are developing a fundamental understanding of and appreciation for inquiry Development is progressive from the standpoint that they can characterize inquiry, based on their course engagement in inquiry Data indicates that students are making modest gains in conceptions of engaging and teaching through science inquiry

17 New questions Do students truly understand the nature of inquiry, more specifically, open inquiry? In what ways can teacher educators help students construct new knowledge about how inquiry supports science learning (i.e. conceptual understanding)? In what ways do they enact their new understandings into practice? Do they draw from their science and methods course experiences?


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