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Assessing teachers'€™ use of inquiry methods in the middle school science classroom


Current practice in science educator training promotes the use of scientific inquiry in the teaching of science. By using inquiry in the classroom, students learn inquiry skills through active learning and problem-based classroom activities. Unfortunately, nave conceptions of scientific inquiry are pervasive among students and their teachers. This study is part of an external evaluation for the "NanoBio Partnership for the Alabama Black Belt". The focus of the program is to provide teacher professional development in inquiry-based pedagogical skills to promote greater student achievement and motivation in science. A major focus of the program is introducing cutting-edge science (specifically science at the nanometer scale) into the classroom as a means of increasing science interest and achievement in middle school students. For this evaluation, we developed self-report measures of teachers' use of inquiry in the classroom. The current study focuses on the validity of the developed assessments for the purposes of evaluating teachers' use of inquiry methods and orientation in the classroom. Although problematic at times, self-report is a valuable tactic for gathering a wide variety of data about program impacts.