Inquiry Beliefs and Practices in an Urban Low SES Elementary Classroom: A Case Study
This case study explored the inquiry beliefs and practices of an elementary teacher in an urban low SES school. The case study included an array of data collection methods: teacher interview, classroom observations of teacher’s practices (3-5) days a week over six months, weekly journal reflections, teacher’s responses to an inquiry survey, responses to the Excellent Science Teaching Educational Evaluation Model survey and the school-level principal was interview about her perceptions of the teacher’s science instructional practices. Findings indicated that the teacher’s beliefs and practices did align and that she did consistently use structured and guided inquiry practices, but rarely used “full inquiry” as described in the National Science Education Standards. Key to this teacher’s use of inquiry was the professional education she had received that both modeled and provided opportunity for her to use various inquiry practices. She also had a belief that all of her students deserved to have quality science experiences and that she could provide it best through inquiry. She sought to increase students’ interest in and experiences with doing science. Time was sometimes a hindrance to the completion of inquiry activities and inquiry-based curricula materials were also important to facilitating the teacher’s use of inquiry.