• Alandeom W. OliveiraEmail author


This study examines the effectiveness of using scholarly descriptions of inquiry-based teaching as a professional development strategy aimed at improving elementary teachers’ social understandings (i.e., how teachers perceive their own and their students’ social roles and relationships in the context of inquiry-based science instruction). The reported findings reveal that, while participating in expert-guided discussions, teachers articulated deeper, theory-based social understandings. Teachers recognized the dialogic nature of initiation–response–feedback, considered the third move in triadic dialogue as multifunctional, identified potential complications of avoiding evaluation, recognized nonverbal means of evaluation, and defined teacher feedback and guidance discursively. Teachers also identified lack of neutrality as having a negative impact on inquiry, considered the implications of verbatim repetitions of students’ responses, and articulated strategies to deal with students’ misconceptions and remain neutral. The significance of this study is that it shows how expert-guided introduction of scholarly descriptions of classroom discourse can serve as effective means to bring educational theory and practice together in the context of professional development and to increase teachers’ awareness of the discourse structure of inquiry-based science instruction.

Key words

discourse inquiry neutrality reactive comments science social understanding 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ash, D., & Kluger-Bell, B. (1999). Identifying inquiry in the K-5 classroom. In Foundations Volume II: A monograph for professionals in science, mathematics, and technology education: Inquiry, thoughts, views, and strategies for the K-5 classroom (pp. 79–85). Washington, DC: National Science Foundation.Google Scholar
  2. Bernard, H. R. (2002). Research methods in anthropology: Qualitative and quantitative approaches (5th ed., pp. 443–449). Walnut Creek: AltaMira.Google Scholar
  3. Binghan, C. (2004). Let’s treat authority relationally. In C. Binghan & A. C. Sidorkin (Eds.), No education without relation. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  4. Bogdan, R. C., & Biklen, S. K. (2003). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theory and methods (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  5. Bybee, R. W. (1997). Achieving scientific literacy: From purposes to practices (pp. 167–186). Portsmouth: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  6. Carin, A. A., Bass, J. E., & Contant, T. L. (2005). Teaching science as inquiry (10th ed.). Upper Sadler River: Merrill Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  7. Chin, C. (2006). Classroom interaction in science: Teacher questioning and feedback to students’ responses. International Journal of Science Education, 28(11), 1315–1346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Colburn, A. (2000). An inquiry primer. Science Scope, 23(6), 42–44.Google Scholar
  9. Creswell, J. W. (2003). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  10. Emerson, R. M., Fretz, R. I., & Shaw, L. L. (1995). Writing ethnographic fieldnotes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  11. Forman, E. A., Larreamendy-Joerns, J., Stein, M. K., & Brown, C. A. (1998). “You’re going to want find out which and prove it”: Collective argumentation in a mathematics classroom. Learning and Instruction, 8(6), 527–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Friedrichsen, P. M., Munford, D., & Orgill, M. (2006). Brokering at the boundary: a prospective science teacher engages students in inquiry. Science Education, 90(3), 522–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Furtak, E. M. (2006). The problem with answers: an exploration of guided science inquiry teaching. Science Education, 90(3), 453–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  15. Hayes, M. T. (2002). Elementary preservice teachers’ struggles to define inquiry-based science teaching. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 13(2), 147–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Keys, C. W., & Kennedy, V. (1999). Understanding inquiry science teaching in context: a case study of an elementary teacher. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 10(4), 315–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Labov, W. (1972). Language in the inner city. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  18. Lawson, A. E., Abraham, M. R., & Renner, J. W. (1989). A theory of instruction: Using the learning cycle to teach science concepts and thinking skills. Cincinnati: National Association of Research in Science Teaching.Google Scholar
  19. Lemke, J. L. (1990). Talking science: Language, learning and values. Norwood: Ablex.Google Scholar
  20. Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  21. Lotter, C. (2004). Preservice science teachers’ concerns through classroom observations and student teaching: special focus on inquiry teaching. Science Educator, 13(1), 29–38.Google Scholar
  22. Martin, D. J. (2006). Elementary science methods: A constructivist approach (4th ed.). Belmont: Thompson Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  23. Mehan, H. (1979). Learning lessons. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Mortimer, E. F., & Scott, P. H. (2003). Meaning making in secondary science classrooms. Maidenhead: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Moscovici, H., & Nelson, T. M. (1998). Shifting from activity mania to inquiry. Science and Children, 35(4), 14–17. 40.Google Scholar
  26. National Research Council (NRC). (1996). National science education standards. Washington DC: National Academy.Google Scholar
  27. Nystrand, M., & Gamoran, A. (1991). Student engagement: When recitation becomes conversation. In H. C. Waxman & H. J. Walberg (Eds.), Effective teaching: Current research (pp. 257–276). Berkely: McCutchan.Google Scholar
  28. Oliveira, A. W., Sadler, T. D., & Suslak, D. F. (2007a). The linguistic construction of expert identity in professor-student discussions of science. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 2(1), 119–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Oliveira, A. W., Sadler, T. D., & Suslak, D. F. (2007b). Analyzing language, interaction and outcomes in an inquiry-oriented classroom. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 2(1), 165–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Oliveira, A. W., Colak, H., & Akerson, V. L. (2009). “Who polluted the Potomac?” The translation and implementation of a US environmental story in Brazilian and Turkish classrooms. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 4(1), 89–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. O’Connor, M. C., & Michaels, S. (1993). Aligning academic task and participation status through revoicing: analysis of a classroom discourse strategy. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 24(4), 318–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Polman, J. L. (2004). Dialogic activity structures for project-based learning environments. Cognition and Instruction, 22, 431–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Prentice Hall (2007). The properties of air in first grade science. [Online Video]. Retrieved 18 October 2007 from Questioning strategies for Inquiry, Virtual classrooms website,9124, 1351186-,00.html.
  34. Richardson, V. (1996). The handbook of research in teacher education. In J. Sikula (Ed.), The role of attitudes and beliefs in learning to teach (2nd ed.). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  35. Roehrig, G. H., & Luft, J. A. (2004). Constraints experienced by beginning secondary science teachers in implementing scientific inquiry lessons. International Journal of Science Education, 26(1), 3–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Seymour, J. R., & Lehrer, R. (2006). Tracing the evolution of pedagogical content knowledge as the development of interanimated discourses. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15(4), 549–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sinclair, J. M. H., & Coulthard, R. M. (1975). Towards an analysis of discourse: The English used by teachers and pupils. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Suchman, R. (1966). Developing inquiry. Chicago: Science Research.Google Scholar
  39. Tabak, I., & Baumgartner, E. (2004). The teacher as partner: Exploring participant structures, symmetry, and identity work in scaffolding. Cognition and Instruction, 22, 393–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Tannen, D. (1985). Relative focus on involvement in oral and written discourse. In D. R. Olson, N. Torrance & A. Hildyard (Eds.), Literacy, language, and learning: The nature and consequences of reading and writing (pp. 124–147). Cambridge: Cambridge Press.Google Scholar
  41. van Zee, E. H., & Minstrell, J. (1997a). Reflective discourse: developing shared understandings in a physics classroom. International Journal of Science Education, 19, 209–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. van Zee, E. H., & Minstrell, J. (1997b). Using questioning to guide student thinking. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 6, 229–271.Google Scholar
  43. van Zee, E. H., Iwasyk, M., Kurose, A., Simpson, D., & Wild, J. (2001). Student and teacher questioning during conversations about science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(2), 159–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Waring, H. Z. (2002). Displaying substantive recipiency in seminar discussion. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 35, 453-479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wells, G. (1993). Reevaluating the IRF sequence: a proposal for the articulation of theories of activity and discourse for the analysis of teaching and learning in the classroom. Linguistics and Education, 5, 1–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Worth, K., & Grollman, S. (2003). Worms, shadows, and whirlpools. Portsmouth: Heinemann.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© National Science Council, Taiwan 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Educational Theory and Practice DepartmentUniversity at Albany, State University of New YorkAlbanyUSA

Personalised recommendations