LEARNING THROUGH INQUIRY LEADS TO CHANGE IN PRACTICE
Using a field-based, professional development course, teacher participants were introduced to the concept of guided-inquiry as they became participants in an inquiry project to pose questions and learn more about the interdependence of the Atlantic Horseshoe Crab and the Red Knot Shorebird. The experience of teachers-as-students from this course honed science teachers’ skills for using guided inquiry in their own classrooms.
Encouraging teachers to experience science through an inquiry-based approach builds their self-confidence to teach in future classrooms utilizing these practices. Smith (2007) found that teachers must be educated in environments which support and encourage the dispositions they wish to mirror in their classrooms (563-564). In its declarations for scientific inquiry, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) (2004), supports and encourages the use of inquiry as a teaching approach in the classroom. NSTA also recommends that professional development engage science educators in opportunities to examine their beliefs, knowledge, and habits. NSTA (2006) principles of professional development encourage examination of specific science content and pedagogy connected to issues of instruction and student learning in the context of classrooms (Loucks-Horsley, Love, Stiles, Mundry, and Hewson 2003; Elmore 2002).
This investigation used a mixed-method design, including both qualitative and quantitative evaluation strategies. Data indicate positive outcomes for all participants. Teacher surveys, supported by observational data, showed that 100% of the participants credited the course with enhanced understanding of inquiry and with greater interest in implementation. All teacher participants increased their knowledge of inquiry and confidence with implementing inquiry based on pre/post survey results. Teacher-prepared inquiry lesson plans indicated a firm understanding of inquiry and implementation. Student work samples and classroom observations indicated high levels of engagement and enjoyment of inquiry activities. Overall, the professional development activity enhanced attitudes, interest, use of inquiry activities, and beliefs about inquiry among teacher participants. School-aged students were also enthusiastic participants in classroom inquiry activities. As teacher participants assumed the role of students, they gained insight into the pedagogy of inquiry which later translated into classroom practice.
 Elmore, R. 2002. Bridging the gap between standards and achievement: The imperative for professional development in education. Washington, DC: Albert Shanker Institute.
 Loucks-Horsley, S., Love, N., Stiles, K. E., Mundry, S., & Hewson, P.W. (2003). Designing professional development for teachers of science and mathematics. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.
 National Science Teachers Association. (2004).
 National Science Teachers Association. (2006).
 American Institute of Physics Conference Proceedings, 883(1), 7-10, DOI: 10.1063/1.2508677
 Smith, B. (2007). Promoting inquiry-based instruction and collaboration in a teacher preparation program. Mathematics Teacher. 100(8), 559-564.