Journal of Science Teacher Education

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 291-318

First online:

A Review of Empirical Literature on Inquiry Professional Development: Alignment with Best Practices and a Critique of the Findings

  • Daniel K. CappsAffiliated withUniversity of Maine Email author 
  • , Barbara A. CrawfordAffiliated withUniversity of Georgia
  • , Mark A. ConstasAffiliated withCornell University

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This review brings together the literature on inquiry-based teaching and learning and science teacher professional development (PD). We present a targeted critical review of research focused specifically on the nature of PD programs purported to emphasize inquiry. Our review analyzes the features of each program and critiques the reported outcomes of each study. Findings from this review suggest a general alignment with recommended features of effective PD as outlined in the literature with a few notable exceptions, including: supporting teachers in developing inquiry-based lesson plans, providing authentic inquiry experiences, and focusing on science content for teachers. More importantly, our review reveals that no reported study has connected participation in inquiry-based PD with all the desired outcomes of teacher PD: enhanced teacher knowledge, change in beliefs and practice, and enhanced student achievement. Implications for future research on inquiry-based PD programs are discussed.


Review Inquiry-based Professional development