of Participation in a GK-12 Fellowship Program on Teachers'
Conceptions and Use of Inquiry Science
by L. Avery, N. Trautmann, and M. Krasny at the Annual Conference
of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching,
Philadelphia, PA, March 22-26, 2003
The goal of this
study is to determine to what extent participation in partnerships
with university scientists and science educators can influence
teachers’ conceptions of inquiry and receptivity to
use of inquiry-based teaching practices. Through an NSF-funded
Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) program,
we are placing graduate and undergraduate science students
in local secondary schools as teaching Fellows to guide
student environmental science research and inquiry activities.
Our research results indicate that the teachers who are
most receptive to student-directed inquiry are those with
personal experience conducting scientific research. These
teachers have been able to introduce new topics or to teach
existing topics in innovative ways with the Fellows’
assistance. However, the teachers for whom the program has
had the most dramatic pedagogical benefits are those with
no previous experience in scientific research. These teachers
have reported gaining skills and/or the confidence needed
to implement open-ended student inquiry in their classrooms.
The underlying question of our continuing research is how
GK-12 programs can best be designed to help classroom teachers
successfully make the difficult transition to open-ended,
inquiry-based teaching practices.