Journal of Science Teacher Education

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 203-227

First online:

Exploring a Model of Situated Professional Development: Impact on Classroom Practice

  • Jonathan SingerAffiliated withDepartment of Education, University of Maryland, Baltimore County Email author 
  • , Christine LotterAffiliated withDepartment of Instruction and Teacher Education, College of Education, University of South Carolina
  • , Robert FellerAffiliated withCenter for Science Education, University of South Carolina
  • , Harry GatesAffiliated withSchool District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties

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A hallmark of current science education reform involves teaching through inquiry. However, the widespread use of inquiry-based instruction in many classrooms has not occurred (Roehrig and Luft in Int J Sci Educ 26:3–24, 2004; Schneider et al. in J Res Sci Teach 42:283–312, 2005). The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of a professional development program on middle school science teachers’ ability to enact inquiry-based pedagogical practices. Data were generated through evaluation of teacher practice using the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) (Sawada et al. in School Sci Math 102:245–253, 2002) at three distinct junctures, before, during, and after the professional development treatment. Analysis of teacher-participant post-institute reflections was then utilized to determine the perceived role of the various institute components. Statistical significant changes in RTOP scores indicated that the teachers were able to successfully transfer the enactment of the inquiry-based practices into their classrooms. The subsequent discussion provides connection between these pedagogical changes with use of professional development strategies that provide a situated learning environment.


Professional development Middle school Inquiry Controlled practice