Source: Teacher Education Quarterly, Volume 38, No. 4, Fall 2011
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
In this article, the authors examined how well the final year of teacher preparation program (TPP) enables preservice teachers (PSTs) to develop a stance toward inquiry.
The participants were one hundred and ten master’s-level PSTs were enrolled in TPP at the time of this study; 87% were female and 13% were male. Approximately 50% of them were future elementary teachers, and the rest were future secondary or K-12 special education teachers.
The findings suggest that the PSTs demonstrated increased confidence related to a stance toward inquiry during their final, master’s year in of teacher preparation program (TPP). There were moderate increases in confidence in all three subscales of the PEBD survey. The open-ended responses corroborated increased confidence and linked it to the PSTs’ perceptions of the impact of the inquiry project experience.
In addition, the findings suggest that while the TPP experiences prior to the completion of the inquiry project supported a beginning stance toward inquiry, there was value added to that stance from the inquiry project and associated master’s year experiences. This value added, as indicated from both the PEBD and open-ended results, included not only moderate increases in confidence but also shifts from an orientation toward the present (as a student) to one toward the future (as a professional). The results suggest a shift from a more limited, student-oriented, immediate view of inquiry to a more holistic, professional, future-oriented view of inquiry.
Additionally, the PSTs seemed to have a clearer focus on classroom-level implications than on school-wide ones that might involve leadership roles.
The authors found moderate increases across all subscales as PSTs’ average scores moved from “somewhat confident” towards and, in the case of confidence in using classroom- and school-level data, beyond “quite confident.” The results of the open-ended items corroborated these findings and also added details specifically related to the inquiry project. Further, although this research demonstrated that beginnings of a stance toward inquiry can occur prior to a formal inquiry experience, it also showed that there appears to be value added from the capstone experience.
Therefore, the authors recommend that TPPs consider explicit attention to inquiry in order to promote life-long learning, evidence-based practice, and a stance toward inquiry.
Although a variety of inquiry project experiences were represented in this TPP, the current research did not compare the specific experiences with the confidence subscales. These comparisons could be used to identify influences of specific inquiry experiences.
For this study, the PEBD resulted in reliable scores, and therefore, with further validity evidence, it may provide a useful tool for teacher preparation programs that wish to gauge the effectiveness of experiences related to a stance toward inquiry, particularly when combined with qualitative evidence. For instance, it could be used by other teacher preparation programs that require the completion of an inquiry project or other research endeavor to study changes in their students.
Quantitatively and qualitatively comparing PSTs who do and do not complete an inquiry project would help the authors examine the growth in and level of PSTs’ confidence and how these are impacted by the completion of an inquiry project, shedding more light on how fruitful it is to engage PSTs in completing such a project. Furthermore, following PSTs who have and have not completed an inquiry project after their initial teaching years and comparing how they use educational research and assessment data to inform their teaching would highlight the potential long-term benefits of this type of research project. The compilation of these studies could help support teacher education programs as they attempt to instill in PSTs the importance of adopting a stance toward inquiry to deal with the complexities of teaching.