Journal of Science Teacher Education

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 79–96

Inquiry-Based Science: Turning Teachable Moments into Learnable Moments

Elementary Science Teacher Education

DOI: 10.1007/s10972-013-9375-7

Cite this article as:
Haug, B.S. J Sci Teacher Educ (2014) 25: 79. doi:10.1007/s10972-013-9375-7


This study examines how an inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning creates teachable moments that can foster conceptual understanding in students, and how teachers capitalize upon these moments. Six elementary school teachers were videotaped as they implemented an integrated inquiry-based science and literacy curriculum in their classrooms. In this curriculum, science inquiry implies that students search for evidence in order to make and revise explanations based on the evidence found and through critical and logical thinking. Furthermore, the curriculum material is designed to address science key concepts multiple times through multiple modalities (do it, say it, read it, write it). Two types of teachable moments were identified: planned and spontaneous. Results suggest that the consolidation phases of inquiry, when students reinforce new knowledge and connect their empirical findings to theory, can be considered as planned teachable moments. These are phases of inquiry during which the teacher should expect, and be prepared for, student utterances that create opportunities to further student learning. Spontaneous teachable moments are instances when the teacher must choose to either follow the pace of the curriculum or adapt to the students’ need. One implication of the study is that more teacher support is required in terms of how to plan for and effectively utilize the consolidation phases of inquiry.


InquiryConceptual learningTeachable momentsVideo-based classroom study

Copyright information

© The Association for Science Teacher Education, USA 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Norwegian Centre for Science EducationUniversity of OsloOsloNorway