Fostering collaborative inquiries by prospective and practicing elementary and middle school teachers


  • This paper was presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, April 28, 2000.

  • The opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Foundation.


The purpose of this study was to document the perspectives and experiences of participants in a complex collaboration. Prospective teachers planned and conducted science lessons and small educational research projects with mentoring from teacher researchers who are science enthusiasts. These group investigations seemed to be effective in modifying the self-perceptions of many of the prospective teachers enrolled in a course on methods of teaching science in elementary school. According to responses on an informal evaluation at the end of the Spring 2000 group investigation, for example, most of the prospective teachers indicated that they perceived themselves to be more confident and more competent to teach science than at the beginning of the course; a few indicated they had already felt confident and competent. Common themes in the prospective teachers' responses indicated that they had learned about teaching science through inquiry, taking ownership of their own learning, researching while teaching, working in groups, and understanding themselves as learners and teachers. The teacher researchers also perceived themselves as benefiting from the collaborative process. Their responses to an e-mail questionnaire suggested that they found working with the prospective teachers to be stimulating and cheering. They enjoyed the discussions, appreciated the help with demanding activities, grew in their own knowledge about teaching and learning, and valued the opportunities for reflection. However, organizing the group investigation was complex, due to time issues, driving distances, school schedules, unexpected teacher responsibilities, and unpredictable weather. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed87:588–612, 2003; Published online in Wiley InterScience ( DOI 10.1002/sce.10070