Exploring a Model of Situated Professional Development: Impact on Classroom Practice

Journal of Science Teacher Education 04/2011; 22(3):203-227. DOI: 10.1007/s10972-011-9229-0


A hallmark of current science education reform involves teaching through inquiry. However, the widespread use of inquiry-based
instruction in many classrooms has not occurred (Roehrig and Luft in Int J Sci Educ 26:3–24, 2004; Schneider et al. in J Res Sci Teach 42:283–312, 2005). The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of a professional development program on middle school science
teachers’ ability to enact inquiry-based pedagogical practices. Data were generated through evaluation of teacher practice
using the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) (Sawada et al. in School Sci Math 102:245–253, 2002) at three distinct junctures, before, during, and after the professional development treatment. Analysis of teacher-participant
post-institute reflections was then utilized to determine the perceived role of the various institute components. Statistical
significant changes in RTOP scores indicated that the teachers were able to successfully transfer the enactment of the inquiry-based
practices into their classrooms. The subsequent discussion provides connection between these pedagogical changes with use
of professional development strategies that provide a situated learning environment.

KeywordsProfessional development–Middle school–Inquiry–Controlled practice

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    • "Numerous studies have investigated inquiry-based instruction, revealing a positive effect on teaching and learning (e.g., Avery & Meyer, 2012; Marshall & Horton, 2011; Powell-Moman & Brown-Schild, 2011; Walker, McGill, et al., 2008). Other studies have emphasized that the professional growth of teachers plays a significant role (Powell- Moman & Brown-Schild, 2011; Singer, Lotter, et al., 2011). Pea (2012) showed that the school environment, categorized into human and sociocultural factors, influenced the implementation of inquiry-based instruction. "
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    ABSTRACT: This review provides an overview of the the current state of research on professional development in science education. An analytical frame was used, based on what is known about PD from educational research. Clarke and Hollingsworth's model for teacher professional growth was also used to categorise the studies according to their aims and outcomes. Exemplar studies in each category are highlighted. In total, 44 recent studies were selected, all referring to science PD. The results show an increase in the number of PD studies in science education in recent years. Most PD programmes are aimed at enhancing teacher cognitions as well as classroom practice. Most recently, there seems to have been an increase in programmes that also aim at improving student outcomes through PD. All studies applied most of the characteristics drawn from research on what makes PD effective. However, school organisational conditions were not usually taken into account. Moreover, there has been a very little research on the role of facilitators and their impact on the outcomes of a PD programme.
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