1 European University-Cyprus (CYPRUS)
2 University of Cyprus (CYPRUS)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN16 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Page: 455 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.1084
Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Current science education reform efforts emphasize science as inquiry as the most effective model of science teaching and learning. However, inquiry-based teaching in science is not an easy endeavor, especially for young-career teachers, partly because teaching science is a complex process that requires teachers to apply knowledge from several domains in order to facilitate student learning. Among others, teaching science as inquiry requires from teachers to be able to identify productive elements of scientific inquiry, be able to evaluate them, and respond to them based on this evaluation.

Using Shulman’s (1968) Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) model as a theoretical structure for studying teacher abilities, in this study we aimed at investigating 34 pre-service elementary school teachers’ PCK knowledge, knowledge about inquiry and abilities for designing and implementing inquiry-based science lessons.

The study took place in the context of a semester-long science methods course focusing on inquiry-based teaching and learning in science in which participants were involved in a process of discussing inquiry-based teaching principles, developing lesson plans, providing and receiving peer feedback, and then teaching the lesson planned. Following qualitative research methods, we compared the characteristics of inquiry as reflected in pre-service science teachers’ designed and enacted lesson plans. Moreover, we investigated elements of pre-service teachers’ responsiveness to student inquiry during the enactment of the lesson plans. We also investigated elements of pre-service teachers’ PCK as reflected in the design and implementation of the inquiry-based science lesson plans, collecting data through a reflection about the PCK issues considered and a focus group interview about inquiry in science teaching.

Our findings suggest that, either in single activities or complete lesson plans, the pre-service teachers in the study included in some degree most of the inquiry features. It should be noted that most of the pre-service teachers had not taught science before. Albeit, they were found to understand the value of including inquiry in their activity and lesson planning. In addition, our findings suggest that the pre-service teachers were able to identify a variety of elements of student inquiry during their lesson plan enactments. However, they were found to respond mostly to students’ knowledge claims. Another important finding was that our teachers responded to in-class student inquiry through a variety of teaching responses. Finally, the reflection and the interview findings revealed that the pre-service teachers believed that science curriculum is an important tool for preparing and teaching science, lesson plan design should be student centered, teachers should be flexible during their lesson plan enactment, open to adapting their instruction, and use appropriate instructional strategies in order to respond to their students’ ideas and reasoning.

Our findings is in accordance with the literature suggesting that pre-service teachers’ abilities to attend to students’ inquiry is a critical aspect of PCK which novice teachers need to develop as part of their pre-service preparation, and helping pre-service teachers develop rich PCK prior to substantial teaching experience is a difficult task.
Pre service teacher education, lesson planning, inquiry-based teaching, Pedagogival Content Knowledge.