ERG SES G 13, Teachers' Professional Development
The aim of the science education in Turkey is to educate scientifically literate individuals (Turkish Ministry of National Education [MoNE], 2013). According to National Research Council (NRC), scientific literacy means that an individual is able to seek and find answers to the questions originated in curiosity related to daily experiences. It is an ability of explaining, describing and predicting the facts of nature. In general, a scientifically literate person is able to use basic scientific attitudes, processes, reasoning skills, and scientific information to get consequence by manipulating (Martin, Sexton, Franklin, Gerlovich, & McElroy, 2009). It is expected from a literate citizen being able to evaluate the quality of scientific information depending upon its sources and the methods preferred to produce it. Researchers have argued on how to achieve these goals and argumentation in science classroom seemed to foster scientific literacy (Erduran & Jimenez-Aleixandre, 2007). Argument-based inquiry (ABI) is an approach which develops learners’ conceptual understanding and ability to defend their ideas by means of strong interaction between peers and teachers. Moreover, this process benefits students’ critical thinking skills and body of knowledge (Hand, 2008). However, ABI has been rarely observed in science classrooms (Driver, Newton, & Osborne, 2000). This approach necessitates that teachers’ adjustment in their perspectives toward teaching and learning has to change from transfering information towards to understanding and implementing cognitive perspectives of learning. This change is what all teachers experience in adopting the ABI approach (Hand, Norton-Meier & Jang, 2017). Bybee (1993) asserts that teachers’ beliefs and their teaching are the main elements for the shift in education and eventually for the successful educational progress. However, this change process is not easy for teacher as a key person of this shift. Attending an inservice training or a workshop is not sufficient to transfer a new approach into the classroom (Gunel & Tanriverdi, 2014). Therefore, at this point teachers need assistance during the implementation of this new approach so that they can make necessary changes in the classroom to provide this learningful environment. Within the context of the present study, it was aimed to give both onsite and ongoing support to a science teacher after an ABI oriented inservice training during the implementation of this innovative approach in the classroom.
The objective of this study was to investigate how a middle school science teacher’s pedagogical practices and beliefs about teaching and learning changed when implementing ABI approach through onsite ongoing professional support. The present study was conducted within a professional development program which specifically focused on the required characteristics of ABI approach. Professional development programs which require systematic follow-up and ongoing support are strongly recommended in the reform movements (Danielson, 2006; DuFour & Eaker, 1998; Feiman-Nemser, 2001; Gunel & Tanriverdi, 2014; Kent & Lingman, 2000; Killion, 2000; Lewis, 1997). Therefore, in the context of this study the effect of onsite ongoing support on a teacher’s pedagogical practices and beliefs about teaching and learning was examined.
As one of the qualitative research designs case study was prefered for this research. Crabtree and Miller (1999) expressed that one of the advantages of qualitative case study approach is the close cooperation between the researcher and the participant by providing participants to tell their stories. The purposefully selected teacher in this research enabled a unique situation because she was in her first semester of professional development using the ABI approach with the 36 students who had experience in traditional teaching for years. Participant teacher’s beliefs about how she should teach science were characteristic of a teacher-centered classroom where she was the transmitter of knowledge. The professional development program consists of two parts: an inservice teacher training and onsite ongoing support. In the first part, science teachers attended to an ABI oriented three-day inservice teacher training program incorporating diverse workshops. Second part of the program is based on voluntariness and willingness of teachers and one-on-one onsite ongoing professional support was given to a science teacher in the context of the present study by considering teacher’s needs. The teacher was selected among participants enrolled in the training program. After inservice training, one of the teachers decided to innovate her teaching became the participant of the study. Preparations were made with teacher-researcher collaboration in several meetings before in-class implementations. During this time, with feedbacks of the first researcher of the study, teacher formed her concept maps, big and sub-ideas related to content. Then the researcher and teacher deeply had both conceptual and content related negotiations. Hereafter the teacher modified her preparations and brought negotiation cycle (what would happen in the classroom) into being. Throughout the year researcher and teacher constantly kept in communication via face-to-face communication, mails, phone calls and whatsapp messages. Moreover, the researcher attended all classroom implementations as an observer. In this case, the researcher was able to record immediately teacher’s reflection and made negotiation with teacher related to ABI instruction after each classroom implementation. The teacher made 6 ABI implementations in her one seventh grade class over a year. Multiple data sources were collected as part of the research: video records of teacher’s classroom implementations, teacher interviews, audio records of briefings and informal conversations, researcher’s field notes and onsite observations. Video-recorded lessons and semi structured interviews were two main data sources. Data analysis was conducted by using the modified Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) scores and constant comparative method.
The results indicated that ongoing-onsite support contributed to teacher’s advancement in her ABI practices in the classroom. The participant teacher shifted her pedagogical practice from traditional teacher centered teaching to a more student-centered approach. Additionally, the teacher’s beliefs about teaching and learning shifted. There is a change in teacher’s beliefs to a more student-focused pedagogy over the professional development period. She shifted her teaching from teacher-centered to student-centered and her role from content deliverer to collaborator or mentor. As her role shifted, her questioning patterns changed to allow more divergent modes of thinking. Her beliefs about how learning occurs and how learning is assessed have changed. The present study showed that the teacher’s beliefs about learning is the central belief which is the reference point of the other beliefs. Furthermore, the results showed that there is a bi-directional relationship between beliefs and practice which confirms Thompson's (1992) theoretical model that there is a dialectic relationship between beliefs and practice. At the end, this study provided recommendations for teacher professional development.
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