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Evans, Paige K. "A Narrative Inquiry into Teaching Physics as Inquiry: An Examination of In-Service Exemplars." Unpublished Doctor of Education Doctoral Thesis, University of Houston, May, 2011.


Studies show that teachers who have experienced inquiry are more likely to practice the inquiry method in their own classrooms (McDermott, 2007; Olson, 1995; Pereira, 2005; Windschitl, 2002). This study explores changes in science teachers’ personal practical knowledge (Clandinin, 1986) after participating in a graduate level physics inquiry course and subsequent professional development throughout the school year. In addition, teacher participants were studied to determine the roadblocks they encountered when altering curriculum mandates in ways that would enable them to work with the inquiry method. The results of this course and subsequent professional development sessions were analyzed for the benefits of using the inquiry method to teacher learning and to ascertain whether the teacher participants would be more apt to employ the inquiry method in their own classrooms. Moreover, the results of this study were analyzed to inform my personal practice as a leader preparing undergraduate science teachers in the teachHOUSTON program as well as in my continuing work with in-service teachers. An inquiry course may be added to the teachHOUSTON course sequence, based on the discoveries unearthed by this thesis study.

This research study is conducted as a narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 1992, 2000; Craig, 2011; Polkinghorne, 1995) where story works as both a research method and a form of representation (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990). Narrative inquiry is strongly influenced by John Dewey (1938) who believed that one must rely on past experiences and knowledge to solve current and future problems and that life experience is in fact education. This study inquires into the narratives of two teachers who are teaching secondary science in public schools. These stories illuminate the teachers’ lived experiences as they co-constructed curriculum with their students. The images of teacher as a curriculum maker vs. teacher as a curriculum implementer (Craig & Ross, 2008; Craig, 2010) demonstrate what needs to be taken into account when teachers live physics curriculum alongside their students in physics classroom settings. The exemplars featured in this thesis illuminate teachers’ developing knowledge as they expand their understandings of inquiry in a physics inquiry course undertaken for professional development purposes and their subsequent enactment of science curriculum in their own classrooms with their students as they, too, inquire into physics.