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Title:Enriching science trade books with explicit-reflective nature of science instruction: impacting elementary teachers' practice and improving students' learning
Author(s):Brunner, Jeanne L
Director of Research:Abd-El-Khalick, Fouad
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Perry, Michelle
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Möller, Karla; Akerson, Valarie
Department / Program:Educational Psychology
Discipline:Educational Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Nature of science
Elementary science
Educative curriculum materials
Science trade books
Abstract:The present study investigated the impact of elementary science trade books, which were modified to include explicit-reflective nature of science (NOS) references, on four variables: teachers' views of NOS, changes in teaching practices during a read-aloud of the trade book, students' interaction with the NOS concepts during the read-aloud, and teachers' perceptions of the materials. Including read-alouds during science instruction is a common practice in elementary teaching and draws on both the strengths of the teachers and the interdisciplinary nature of elementary teaching. To investigate these issues, eight participating teachers and their students underwent three hierarchical levels of intervention. Level I served as a control or baseline and consisted of a trade book that remained unmodified. Level II consisted of a trade book that had been modified to include explicit references to NOS. Level III consisted of a trade book that had been modified to include explicit references to NOS plus the inclusion of an educative teacher’s guide. The educative teacher's guide included content aimed at supporting the teachers' development of more informed views of NOS, as well as guiding their pedagogical decisions during the read-aloud (e.g., by including specific reflective questions and potential student responses). Multiple sources of data were examined in this study. To determine changes in teachers' views of NOS, teachers filled out the Views of Nature of Science Questionnaire Form CE (VNOS-CE) pre- and post-intervention. Audio recordings and field notes were obtained during the read-aloud sessions, allowing for the investigation of changes in teaching practice. Additionally, students completed free response tasks after each session to determine what, if any, ideas about NOS they took away from the sessions. Individual interviews of select students were used for a more in-depth analysis of students' views of NOS. Lastly, teachers participated in two interviews that focused on their views of NOS, as well as their perceptions of the curriculum materials. Analyses showed that every participating teacher changed their views from less informed to more informed views on at least one of the NOS aspects. Consequently, they also changed their teaching practices between Level I and Level II, and between Level II and Level III of the intervention such that they included more explicitly references to NOS in the later levels. Additionally, teachers reported that the support from the teacher’s guide in Level III led to them feeling more comfortable and prepared to lead discussions during Level III read-alouds. The students' free response data indicated minimal student involvement with the NOS content, however this may have been an artifact of the measure. In contrast, student interviews indicated every participating student changed from less informed to more informed views on at least one of the targeted aspects of NOS. Finally, teachers perceived the intervention materials in a generally favorable way, indicating that they would be likely to follow a similar intervention on their own. Additionally, this data provides ecological validity to the intervention. Developing informed views of NOS in teachers and students has been a central goal of science education for several decades. Most previous research required lengthy professional development experiences, intensive researcher participation, or highly idealized teaching situations. The present study provides evidence that more minimal interventions that rely on practices that are already common in elementary teaching may be effective in reaching this goal. Such interventions are more easily scaled up to reach a wider number of teachers in a variety of teaching environments.
Issue Date:2016-07-14
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Jeanne L. Brunner
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-11-10
Date Deposited:2016-08

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