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Abstract

This study examined the relationships that exist between high school science teachers' understanding of the Piagetian developmental model of intelligence, its inherent teaching procedure—the learning cycle—and classroom teaching practices. The teachers observed in this study had expressed dissatisfaction with the teaching methods they used, and, subsequently, attended a National Science Foundation sponsored in-service program designed to examine laboratory-centered science curricula and the educational and scientific theories upon which the curricula were based. The teachers who exhibited a sound understanding of the Piagetian model of intelligence and the learning cycle were more likely to effectively implement learning cycle curricula. They were able to successfully integrate their students' laboratory experiences with class discussions to construct science concepts. The teachers who exhibited misunderstandings of the Piagetian developmental model of intelligence and the learning cycle also engaged their students in laboratory activities, but these activities were weakly related to learning cycles. For example, the data gathered by their students were typically not used in class discussions to construct science concepts. Therefore, these teachers apparently did not discern the necessity of using the data and experiences from laboratory activities as the impetus for science concept attainment. Additional results comparing degrees of understanding, teaching behaviors and questioning strategies are discussed.