In search of well-started beginning science teachers: Insights from two first-year elementary teachers

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Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore what aspects of two first-year elementary teachers' practices were most consistent with an inquiry-based approach, what PCK served as a mechanism for facilitating these practices, and what experiences have mediated the nature and development of these teachers' PCK. For each of the participants data included audio-recorded interviews, video-recorded classroom observations, lesson plans, and samples of student work. Data analysis illustrated that both participants engaged their students in question-driven investigations, the use of observational data, making connections between evidence and claims, and communicating those claims to others. Moreover, there was clear evidence in the findings of the study that a considerable degree of coherence existed between the two participants' knowledge on one hand and their instructional practices on the other hand. The participants perceived specific learning experiences during their programs as being critical to their development. The contribution of this study lies in the fact that it provides examples of well-started beginning elementary teachers implementing inquiry-based science in 2nd and 5th grade classrooms. Implications of the study include the need for the design of university-based courses and interventions by which teacher preparation and professional development programs support teachers in developing PCK for scientific inquiry and enacting instructional practices that are congruent with reform initiatives. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 47:661–686, 2010

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