Mediators of a Preservice Teacher’s Use of the Inquiry-Application Instructional Model

Feb. 01, 2011

Source: Journal of Science Teacher Education, 22(1), p. 79–100 (February, 2011).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this article, the author examines a preservice teacher’s use of the Inquiry-Application Instructional Model (I-AIM) to plan and enact an instructional sequence about photosynthesis.

The author addressed to the following research questions
1. In what ways did the preservice teacher’s sequences of planned and enacted instructional
activities match or not match the I-AIM?
2. What were some of the mediators that shaped the preservice teacher’s use of the I-AIM for
planning and teaching?

Inquiry-Application Instructional Model (I-AIM)

The Inquiry-Application Instructional Model (I-AIM) was designed as an educative tool to help preservice teachers synthesize several theoretical constructs and use them in ways that support students in engaging in inquiry and developing conceptual understanding.
The learning frameworks of this model focus primarily on scientific inquiry, but also include aspects of conceptual change and cognitive apprenticeship, when planning and teaching science (Gunckel 2008).

The participant in this study was Leslie, a preservice teacher who enrolled to an elementary science methods course at a large, Midwestern university.
The preservice teachers were required to plan a 3- to 4-week instructional sequence using the I-AIM and enact the instructional sequence in their field placement classroom.

Leslie’s Planned and Enacted Instructional Sequences
Leslie was placed in a fifth-grade classroom in a fifth through sixth grade middle school. Leslie’s mentor teacher, Rebecca, assigned Leslie to teach the carbon cycle.
The carbon cycle was not part of the school district fifth grade curriculum. Hence, Leslie had no district curriculum materials to use to plan her unit. Rebecca provided Leslie with a book titled Dr. Art’s Guide to Planet Earth (Sussman 2000). Although Leslie was assigned to teach about the carbon cycle, her planned instructional sequence focused mostly on the process of photosynthesis.

The author collected four types of data: Leslie’s planned instructional sequence, videotaped observations of Leslie’s enacted instructional sequence, Leslie’s written assignments for her science methods course, and semi-structured interviews with Leslie and her mentor teacher.

Discussion and Implications

Leslie’s case serves as an instructive case for teacher educators concerned with better supporting preservice teachers in learning to use instructional models as planning and teaching tools.

The findings reveal that Leslie’s use of the I-AIM leveraged the activity functions that matched the conceptual change aspects of the I-AIM but missed most of the activity functions that correspond to the inquiry aspects of the I-AIM.
Three mediators emerged as important: (a) Leslie’s perspective on planning and teaching,
(b) the curriculum materials that she had available, and
(c) her interpretation of the frameworks underlying the I-AIM.

Hence, recognizing mediators of preservice teachers’ actions can help teacher educators anticipate common potential mediators that influence preservice teachers’ uses of instructional models as tools.
The author concludes that Leslie’s case illustrates some of the mediators that may shape preservice teachers’ uses of an instructional model, including their approach to teaching science, the curriculum materials they have available, and the meanings they make of the key constructs underlying the model.

Furthermore, the author argues that helping preservice teachers become aware of the differences between the instructional model and the curriculum materials they are using may help preservice teachers to develop a richer understanding of the purpose and intent of both the curriculum materials and the instructional model and use both tools effectively together.

Gunckel, K. L. (2008). Preservice elementary teachers learning to use curriculum tools to plan and teach science lessons. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

Sussman, A. (2000). Dr. Art’s guide to planet Earth: For Earthlings ages 12 to 120. White River Jct., VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.

Updated: Sep. 10, 2012