10 SES 06 A, Teaching Science (Part 2)
Paper Session: continued from 10 SES 04 B
Owing to the introduction of educational standards, the focus of school science curricula in many countries has changed (Abd-El-Khalick et al., 1993; Hofstein, 2004; van Joolingen, de Jong, & Dimitrakopoulou, 2007). Nowadays, inquiry skills are increasingly required (e.g. KMK, 2007; NRC, 2012). To adequately train students in this regard, teachers should be prepared by acquiring inquiry skills themselves (Gyllenpalm, Wickman, & Holmgren, 2010; KMK, 2010). However, some studies show that teachers have problems in conducting experiments individually and are mostly unfamiliar with the concepts of scientific inquiry (Gallagher, 1991; Gyllenpalm, Wickman, & Holmgren, 2010). Moreover, some authors argue that aspects of scientific inquiry are hardly taken into account in university teacher training (Hofstein & Lunetta, 2004; Seung, Bryan, & Butler, 2009).
While many studies focussing on inquiry skills of students or teachers (e.g. Baxter & Shavelson, 1994; Gallagher, 1991), there appears to be little empirical research on teacher education in this area. But it is important to understand what foundations are laid here and where there is still potential for development. Thus, the aim of this research is to describe the inquiry skills of pre-service teachers and to review learning opportunities in the context of universities’ teacher education. Thereby, we exemplarily view at chemistry pre-service teachers. In particular, we investigate the following research questions:
(1) Which inquiry skills can be identified in experimental procedures of chemistry pre-service teachers?
(2) Which learning opportunities regarding inquiry skills do pre-service teachers perceive in their learning biography?
In the present study, inquiry skills are regarded as skills required to perform a process of knowledge acquisition by using different methods such as literature research, experimentation or observation. Since experimentation is an important method of science (Driver, Leach, Millar, & Scott, 1996), the proposed research will focus on the inquiry skills that are required for conducting experiments. These skills are linked to the elements of experimentation: (a) asking questions, (b) generating hypotheses, (c) planning an experiment, (d) conducting an experiment, and (e) evaluating evidence (e.g. Hofstein, 2004). Various authors have already specified skills required for experimentation (e.g. Lunetta, & Tamir, 1979). We have summarised them in a catalogue of inquiry skills (Patzwaldt, Kambach, Upmeier, & Tiemann, 2013) including several inquiry skills for each element of experimentation. For example “generating hypotheses” contains (b1) investigating sources of information, (b2) consulting previous knowledge, (b3) consulting experimental data, (b4) formulating hypothesis (identifying dependent and independent variables, selecting variables, selecting a relation to hold between two or more variables), and (b5) checking the plausibility of the hypothesis. Since these skills relate to cognitive activities, our catalogue also contains many inquiry skills referring to practical activities (e.g. arranging equipment).
To investigate the inquiry skills of pre-service teachers we use hands-on investigation tasks as they serve as a benchmark in many studies (e.g. Baxter & Shavelson, 1994). Furthermore, we apply the method of “Concurrent Think Aloud” (Ericsson & Simon, 1993) and “Focused Interviews” (Merton, Fiske, & Kendall, 1990) as well as video analysis to get a deeper understanding of inquiry processes.
The results of our study are to provide a more accurate description of the aspects of inquiry skills and allow identifying learning opportunities in learning biographies of pre-service teachers.
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