09 SES 02 B, Relating Student Attitudes and Teaching Practices to Science Achievement
Guided scientific inquiry has been shown to be effective in promoting student achievement (Lynch, Kuipers, Pyke, & Szesze, 2005; Vandosdall, Klentschy, Hedges, Weisbaum, 2007). However, school climate can influence students’ motivation to learn and achieve (Deal & Peterson 2009). School climate, particularly as it relates to accountability, may lead teachers to alter their teaching practices, subsequently influencing student-level outcomes.
The goal of the proposed study is to use a multi-group multilevel structural equation model (MG-MSEM) to compare the relationship between school-level accountability policies, teachers’ science teaching practices and student-level outcomes (science achievement and affect towards science). Data from the 2011 Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) will be used to compare relationships across the United States, Australia and Finland.
Guided scientific inquiry is student-centered, driven by student data collection and analysis, and leads to student formulation of an underlying science concept or principle. It is also teacher-facilitated, requiring extensive use of teacher questioning and scaffolding to guide students to greater understanding of science concepts, science content, and science practice skills. A comprehensive analysis of inquiry research also found that teaching strategies that actively engage students in the learning process through scientific investigations are more likely to increase conceptual understanding than strategies that rely on passive techniques (Minner, Levy, & Century, 2010).
Although students’ motivation and achievement have been shown to be positively related to teacher instructional practices, the positive influence of teacher practices may be influenced by a school’s climate (Deal & Peterson, 2009). In particular, the accountability methods used to evaluate teachers have the potential to influence both teachers and students.
Accountability methods in education present a complex inter-relationship between the pressures of reform efforts and unintended consequences for students, teachers, and schools. When schools have a strong emphasis on teacher accountability, teachers may feel pressured and motivation may become extrinsic as they act upon fear or potential consequences (Santiago & Benavides, 2009; Cruz & Brown, 2010). Research from across the globe has demonstrated some of the potential negative outcomes associated with an overemphasis on accountability including, but not limited to: a narrowing of the curriculum; test-centered rather than student-centered environments; heightened stress; and a marginalization of low-performing students (e.g., Jaeger, Merki, Oer, & Holmeier, 2012; Polesel, Rice, & Dulfer, 2014; Rustique-Forrester, 2005).
Test-based accountability systems are becoming increasing popular in educational reform efforts (Hamilton, 2003). These types of accountability systems are prevalent within countries such as the United States (U.S.), England and Australia (Rustique-Forrester, 2005). In contrast, the high achieving country, Finland, does not rely upon external standardized testing to evaluate the performance of schools or teachers (Darling-Hammond & McCloskey, 2008; Sahlberg, 2011).
Increased focus on accountability has the potential to alter teachers’ instructional practices and restrict students’ opportunities to engage in creative activities such as guided science inquiry. The purpose of the current study is to use a multi-group multilevel structural equation model (MG-MSEM) to compare the moderating role of accountability policies on the relationship between teachers’ science practices and students’ science affect on achievement across the U.S., Australia and Finland.
Darling-Hammond, L., & McCloskey, L. (2008). Assessment for learning around the world: What would it mean to be internationally competitive. Phi Delta Kappan, 90(4), 263-272. Deal, T. E., & Peterson, K. D. (2009). Shaping School Culture: Pitfalls Paradoxes and Promises.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Hamilton, L. (2003). Assessment as a Policy Tool. Review of Research in Education, 27, 25-68. Jaeger, D. J., Merki, K. M., Oer, B., & Holmeier, M. (2012). Statewide Low-stakes and a Teaching to the Test Effect? An Analysis of Teacher Survey Data from Two German States. Assessment in Education Principles Policy and Practice, 19, 451-467. Lynch, S., Kuipers, J., Pyke, C., & Szesze, M. (2005). Examining the effects of a highly rated science curriculum unit on diverse students: Results from a planning grant. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42, 912–946. doi:10.1002/tea.20080 Martin, M.O. & Mullis, I.V.S. (Eds). (2012). Methods and procedures in TIMSS and PIRLS 2011. Chestnut Hill, MA: TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Boston College. Minner, D., Levy, A., & Century, J. (2010). Inquiry-based science instruction—what is it and does it matter? Results from a research synthesis years 1984–2002. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47, 474–496. doi:10.1002/tea.20347 Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998-2012). Mplus User’s Guide. Seventh Edition. Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén. Polesel, J., Rice, S., & Dulfer, N. (2014). The impact of high-stakes testing on curriculum and pedagogy: a teacher perspective from Australia. Journal of Education Policy, 29, 640-657. Provasnik, S., Kastberg, D., Ferraro, D., Lemanski, N., Roey, S., and Jenkins, F. (2012). Highlights From TIMSS 2011: Mathematics and Science Achievement of U.S. Fourth- and Eighth-Grade Students in an International Context (NCES 2013-009 Revised). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC. Rustique-Forrester, E. (2005, April 8). Accountability and the pressures to exclude: A cautionary tale from England. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 13(26). Retrieved from http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v13n26/. Sahlberg, P. (2011). The Professional Educator: Lessons from Finland.American Educator, 35(2), 34-38. Vanosdall, R., Klentschy, M., Hedges, L. H., & Weisbaum, K. S. (2007). A randomized study of the effects of scaffolded guided-inquiry instruction on student achievement in science. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL.
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