Preservice Teachers Developing Coherent Inquiry Investigations in Elementary Astronomy
For students to attain deep understanding of scientific practices, they will need to have opportunities to participate in sustained engagement in doing science. Such opportunities begin with elementary teachers implementing coherent and well-sequenced inquiry-based investigations in their classrooms. This study explored how preservice teachers (N = 30) planned inquiry-based investigations for elementary students. The preservice teachers spent the first 5 weeks of their methods course participating in astronomy investigations and then pair-taught astronomy investigations once a week for 5 weeks to elementary students in afterschool programs. We analyzed lesson plans, teaching reflections, and pre/post astronomy content assessments. One-third of the pairs developed coherent science inquiry investigations across all of their lessons. Their reflections suggest that preservice teachers who developed coherent inquiry investigations held normative ideas about scientific
inquiry and were more likely to reflect on sense-making practices than preservice teachers who did not plan for coherent science inquiry investigations in their lessons. Preservice teachers’ postinstruction astronomy content knowledge was positively correlated with an increased number of lessons spent on coherent science inquiry investigations. Based on our findings, we recommend engaging preservice teachers in coherent science inquiry
investigations in a single domain followed by opportunities to plan and teach elementary children in that domain.