Urban schools' teachers enacting project-based science



What teaching practices foster inquiry and promote students to learn challenging subject matter in urban schools? Inquiry-based instruction and successful inquiry learning and teaching in project-based science (PBS) were described in previous studies (Brown & Campione, 1990; Crawford, 1999; Krajcik, Blumenfeld, Marx, Bass, & Fredricks, 1998; Krajcik, Blumenfeld, Marx, & Solloway, 1994; Minstrell & van Zee, 2000). In this article, we describe the characteristics of inquiry teaching practices that promote student learning in urban schools. Teaching is a major factor that affects both achievement of and attitude of students toward science (Tamir, 1998). Our involvement in reform in a large urban district includes the development of suitable learning materials and providing continuous and practiced-based professional development (Fishman & Davis, in press; van Es, Reiser, Matese, & Gomez, 2002). Urban schools face particular challenges when enacting inquiry-based teaching practices like those espoused in PBS. In this article, we describe two case studies of urban teachers whose students achieved high gains on pre- and posttests and who demonstrated a great deal of preparedness and commitment to their students. Teachers' attempts to help their students to perform well are described and analyzed. The teachers we discuss work in a school district that strives to bring about reform in mathematics and science through systemic reform. The Center for Learning Technologies in Urban Schools (LeTUS) collaborates with the Detroit Public Schools to bring about reform in middle-school science. Through this collaboration, diverse populations of urban-school students learn science through inquiry-oriented projects and the use of various educational learning technologies. For inquiry-based science to succeed in urban schools, teachers must play an important role in enacting the curriculum while addressing the unique needs of students. The aim of this article is to describe patterns of good science teaching in urban school. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 43: 722–745, 2006