Development of Preservice Teachers’ Ability to Critique and Adapt Inquiry-based Instructional Materials

Feb. 28, 2010

Source: Journal of Science Teacher Education, 21 (1):81–102. (February, 2010)
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Current standards emphasize student engagement with inquiry practices. However, implementing inquiry instruction is a formidable challenge for teachers as they often lack models for using and adapting inquiry-based instructional materials.

The authors argue that teacher education programs can provide scaffolded contexts for developing teachers’ ability to critique, adapt, and design inquiry-based materials. In this paper, the authors describe a qualitative study of preservice teachers enrolled in two consecutive science methods courses.

Research Questions

Specifically, the authors’ research questions are
1. What criteria do preservice teachers use to evaluate instructional materials, and how do those criteria change over time as a result of participating in two methods courses?
2. In what ways does preservice teachers’ ability to critique instructional materials change as a result of engaging in the instructional design activities of the second methods course?
3. In what ways does preservice teachers’ ability to revise (adapt) instructional materials change as a result of engaging in the design activities of the second methods course?


The study involved the cohort of 17 preservice teachers in a 2-years certification program in biological sciences education at a large public university on the east coast.

The data collected in the study was taken from the first two methods courses, Methods I and Methods II. Theses courses are geared towards helping preservice teachers develop the knowledge and practices of inquiry-based teaching. Each course had 15 weeks of instruction.

The findings suggest that teachers improved in their ability to critique lesson plans and to suggest revisions that would make them more inquiry oriented. In particular, the teachers’ critiques and revisions increased in sophistication after engaging in instructional design activities during the second methods course.


The authors conclude that design work can provide
(a) insights as to the workings of instructional materials;
(b) encourage a reversionary stance towards instructional design; and
(c) as the findings suggest, it can promote teachers’ ability to critique instructional materials.

Updated: Aug. 29, 2010


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