Authentic and Simulated Professional Development: Teachers Reflect What is Modeled



Science is a dynamic discipline, representative of the nature of science. Yet, young science students continue to think everything is already discovered. In this study, we examine why students are not actively doing science. From professional development to student engagement, how are classrooms and students changing as we increase teachers' content knowledge? Teaching practices modeled in professional development can change what occurs in the classroom. Our study was designed to probe differences in two different types of professional development programs both focused on content knowledge. We found that what is modeled by the professional developers has a profound effect on the direction of the classroom. This matched controlled study found that teachers reflect the teaching practice modeled by professional developers through their individual classroom teaching practices. A significant difference was found in cognitive activities and questioning skills between teachers in a professional development program modeling authentic inquiry versus the teachers in a professional development modeling simulated inquiry. While both groups increased the amount of overall inquiry used in the classroom, students whose teachers were in authentic inquiry professional development were engaged in higher cognitive activities and questioning skills. If students are engaged in dynamic classrooms, searching for answers to students' questions, perhaps they will understand that science is a dynamic discipline.