What makes effective teachers who bring inquiry-based teaching into their science classrooms?
We came across some research about why some teachers tend to bring inquiry-based teaching into their classrooms more successfully than others.
A new study from the University of Vermont seems to have found insights on why some teachers seem to be more successful at using inquiry-based learning in the classroom.
The study, Meeting Instructional Standards for Middle-Level Science Which Teachers Are Most Prepared?, examined whether the educational backgrounds of 9,500 eighth-grade science teachers in 1,260 public schools were predictive of the level in which they engaged in inquiry-oriented instruction.
Based on this nationwide analysis of teachers, the authors found two distinct groups of middle-grades science teachers:
- Those with very little formal education in science or engineering
- Those with degrees and substantial coursework in science.
Teachers belonging to the first group – those with both education and science degrees (and teachers with graduate degrees in science) – were mostly likely to use inquiry-based teaching.
But here’s the problem: only half of science teachers studied had these credentials. Nearly 25% of eighth-grade teachers had no formal educational background in science or engineering.
So what does this mean?
“We cannot expect that goals for reforming science education in the United States can be achieved without carefully examining how teachers are prepared,” says Kolbe, who co-authored the study with Simon Jorgenson, assistant professor in the Department of Education at UVM.
But there’s good news, according to the study: teachers who don’t necessarily come from the same background can “catch up” to those who do.
The kind of inquiry-based teaching that delivers excellent results in the classroom can be learned and improved.
And of course, we believe that anyone willing to work on professional development can become an excellent teacher.
What do you think?