Investigating One Science Teacher?s Inquiry Unit Through an Integrated Analysis: The Scientific Practices Analysis (SPA)-Map and the Mathematics and Science Classroom Observation Profile System (M-SCOPS)
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Since the 1950s, inquiry has been considered an effective strategy to promote students? science learning. However, the use of inquiry in contemporary science classrooms is minimal, despite its long history and wide recognition elsewhere. Besides, inquiry is commonly confused with discovery learning, which needs minimal level of teacher supervision. The lack of thorough description of how inquiry works in diverse classroom settings is known to be a critical problem. To analyze the complex and dynamic nature of inquiry practices, a comprehensive tool is needed to capture its essence. In this dissertation, I studied inquiry lessons conducted by one high school science teacher of 9th grade students. The inquiry sequence lasted for 10 weeks. Using the Scientific Practices Analysis (SPA)-map and the Mathematics and Science Classroom Observation Profile System (M-SCOPS), elements of inquiry were analyzed from multiple perspectives. The SPA-map analysis, developed as a part of this dissertation, revealed the types of scientific practices in which students were involved. The results from the M-SCOPS provide thorough descriptions of complex inquiry lessons in terms of their content, flow, instructional scaffolding and representational scaffolding. In addition to the detailed descriptions of daily inquiry practices occurring in a dynamic classroom environment, the flow of the lessons in a sequence was analyzed with particular focus on students? participation in scientific practices. The findings revealed the overall increase of student-directed instructional scaffolding within the inquiry sequence, while no particular pattern was found in representational scaffolding. Depending on the level of cognitive complexity imposed on students, the lessons showed different association patterns between the level of scaffolding and scientific practices. The findings imply that teachers need to provide scaffolding in alignment with learning goals to achieve students? scientific proficiency.