In this nested mixed methods study I investigate factors influencing preservice elementary teachers’ adaptation of science curriculum materials to better support students’ engagement in science as inquiry. Analyses focus on two ‘reflective teaching assignments’ completed by 46 preservice elementary teachers in an undergraduate elementary science methods course in which they were asked to adapt existing science curriculum materials to plan and enact inquiry-based science lessons in elementary classrooms. Data analysis involved regression modeling of artifacts associated with these lessons, as well as in-depth, semester-long case studies of six of these preservice teachers. Results suggest that features of the existing science curriculum materials, including measures of how inquiry-based they were, have a relatively small influence on the preservice teachers’ curricular adaptations, while teacher-specific variables account for a much greater percentage of the variance. Evidence from the case studies illustrates the critical impact of the preservice teachers’ field placement contexts as an explanatory, teacher-specific factor in their curricular adaptations. These findings have important implications for science teacher educators and science curriculum developers, in terms of not only better understanding how preservice teachers engage with curriculum materials, but also how programmatic features of teacher education programs influence their ability to do so.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Avraamidou, L., & Zembal-Saul, C. (2010). In search of well-started beginning science teachers: Insights from two first-year elementary teachers. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(6), 661–686.
Ball, D. L., & Forzani, F. M. (2009). The work of teaching and challenge of teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 60(5), 497–511.
Beyer, C., & Davis, E. A. (2009a). Supporting preservice elementary teachers’ critique and adaptation of science lesson plans using educative curriculum materials. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 20(6), 517–536.
Beyer, C., & Davis, E. A. (2009b). Using educative curriculum materials to support preservice elementary teachers’ curricular planning: A comparison between two different forms of support. Curriculum Inquiry, 39(5), 679–703.
Bodzin, A. M., & Beerer, K. M. (2003). Promoting inquiry-based science instructon: The validation of the science teacher inquiry rubric (STIR). Journal of Elementary Science Education, 15(2), 39–49.
Brown, M. (2009). Toward a theory of curriculum design and use: Understanding the teacher-tool relationship. In J. Remillard, B. Herbel-Eisenman, & G. Lloyd (Eds.), Mathematics teachers at work: Connecting curriculum materials and classroom instruction (pp. 17–37). New York: Routledge.
Bryan, L. A. (2003). Nestedness of beliefs: Examining a prospective elementary teacher’s belief systems about science teaching and learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40(9), 835–868.
Bryan, L. A., & Abell, S. K. (1999). Development of professional knowledge in learning to teach elementary science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 36(2), 121–139.
Clift, R. T., & Brady, P. (2005). Research on methods courses and field experiences. In M. Cochran-Smith & K. Zeichner (Eds.), Studying teacher education: The report of the AERA panel on research and teacher education (pp. 309–424). Mahway, NJ: Erlbaum.
Davis, E. A. (2006). Preservice elementary teachers’ critique of instructional materials for science. Science Education, 90(2), 348–375.
Davis, E. A., & Smithey, J. (2009). Beginning teachers moving toward effective elementary science teaching. Science Education, 93(4), 745–770.
Dietz, C., & Davis, E. A. (2009). Preservice elementary teachers’ reflection on narrative images of inquiry. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 20(3), 219–243.
Enyedy, N., & Goldberg, J. (2004). Inquiry in interaction: How local adaptations of curricula shape classroom communities. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(9), 905–935.
Fogleman, J., McNeill, K. L., & Krajcik, J. (2010). Examining the effect of teachers’ adaptations of a middle school science inquiry-oriented curriculum unit on student learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(2), 149–169.
Forbes, C. T. (2011). Preservice elementary teachers’ adaptation of science curriculum materials for inquiry-based elementary science. Science Education, 95, 1–29.
Forbes, C.T., Biggers, M., & Zangori, L. (2011). Supporting elementary teachers’ evaluation and adaptation of science curriculum materials: The PIESC3 professional development model. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching, Orlando, FL, April 3–6.
Forbes, C. T., & Davis, E. A. (2008a). Exploring preservice elementary teachers’ critique and adaptation of curriculum materials in respect to socioscientific issues. Science & Education, 17(8–9), 829–854.
Forbes, C. T., & Davis, E. A. (2008b). The development of preservice elementary teachers’ curricular role identity for science teaching. Science Education, 92(5), 909–940.
Forbes, C. T., & Davis, E. A. (2010a). Curriculum design for inquiry: Preservice elementary teachers’ mobilization and adaptation of science curriculum materials. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(7), 365–387.
Forbes, C. T., & Davis, E. A. (2010b). Beginning elementary teachers’ beliefs about the use of anchoring questions in science: A longitudinal study. Science Education, 94(2), 365–387.
Grossman, P., McDonald, M., Hammerness, K., & Ronfeldt, M. (2008). Dismantling dichotomies in teacher education. In M. Cochran-Smith (Ed.), The handbook of teacher education: A project of the Association of Teacher Educators (pp. 243–248). New York: Macmillan.
Gunckel, K. L. (2011). Mediators of a preservice teacher’s use of the inquiry-application instructional model. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 22(1), 79–100.
Haefner, L. A., & Zembal-Saul, C. (2004). Learning by doing? Prospective elementary teachers’ developing understandings of scientific inquiry and science teaching and learning. International Journal of Science Education, 26(13), 1653–1674.
Howes, E. V. (2002). Learning to teach science for all in the elementary grades: What do preservice teachers bring? Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39(9), 845–869.
Kesidou, S., & Roseman, J. (2002). How well do middle school science programs measure up? Findings from Project 2061’s curriculum review. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39(6), 522–549.
Luft, J. A. (1999). Assessing science teachers as they implement inquiry lessons: The extended inquiry observational rubric. Science Educator, 8(1), 9–18.
Magnusson, S., Krajcik, J., & Borko, H. (1999). Nature, sources, and development of pedagogical content knowledge. In J. Gess-Newsome & N. G. Lederman (Eds.), Examining pedagogical content knowledge (pp. 95–132). Dordrecht/Boston: Kluwer.
Marx, R., & Harris, C. (2006). No child left behind and science education: Opportunities, challenges, and risks. Elementary School Journal, 106(5), 467–477.
Metz, K. (2011). Disentangling robust development constraints from the instructionally mutable: Young children’s epistemic reasoning about a study of their own design. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20(11), 50–110.
Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Morton, B. A., & Dalton, B. (2007). Changes in instructional hour in four subjects by public school teachers in grades 1 through 4 (NCES 2007-305). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2003). Digest of education statistics, 2003. Retrieved Sept 23, 2006, from http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d03/index.asp.
National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
National Research Council. (2000). Inquiry and the national science education standards: A guide for teaching and learning. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
National Research Council. (2007). Taking science to school: Leaning and teaching science in grades K-8. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
National Science Teachers Association. (2003). Standards for science teacher preparation. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.
Patton, M. Q. (2001). Qualitative research and evaluation methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Pintó, R. (2004). Introducing curriculum innovations in science: Identifying teachers’ transformations and the design of related teacher education. Science Education, 89, 1–12.
Remillard, J. T. (1999). Curriculum materials in mathematics education reform: A framework for examining teachers’ curriculum development. Curriculum Inquiry, 29(3), 315–342.
Remillard, J. T. (2000). Can curriculum materials support teachers’ learning? Two fourth-grade teachers’ use of a new mathematics text. Elementary School Journal, 100(4), 331–350.
Remillard, J. T. (2005). Examining key concepts in research on teachers’ use of mathematics curricula. Review of Educational Research, 75(2), 211–246.
Roehrig, G. H., Kruse, R. A., & Kern, A. (2007). Teacher and school characteristics and their influence on curriculum implementation. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 44(7), 883–907.
Schneider, R. M., Krajcik, J., & Blumenfeld, P. (2005). Enacting reform-based science materials: The range of teacher enactments in reform classrooms. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(3), 283–312.
Schwarz, C., Gunckel, K., Smith, E., Covitt, B., Enfield, M., Bae, M., et al. (2008). Helping elementary pre-service teachers learn to use science curriculum materials for effective science teaching. Science Education, 92(2), 345–377.
Sim, C. (2006). Preparing for professional experiences—incorporating pre-service teachers as ‘communities of practice’. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22, 77–83.
Valencia, S., Place, N., Martin, S., & Grossman, P. (2006). Curriculum materials for elementary reading: Shackles and scaffolds for four beginning teachers. The Elementary School Journal, 107(1), 93–120.
Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Zembal-Saul, C., Blumenfeld, P., & Krajcik, J. (2000). Influence of guided cycles of planning, teaching and reflection on prospective elementary teachers’ science content representations. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37(4), 318–339.
This research is funded by a PECASE/CAREER Award grant number REC-0092610 and the Center for Curriculum Materials in Science, a CLT grant, number 0227557, both from the National Science Foundation, as well as the University of Michigan Rackham School of Graduate Studies and University of Iowa College of Education. However, any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2011 meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching in Orlando, FL. I appreciate the interest and cooperation of the preservice teachers who made this research possible. I also thank Betsy Davis, Joe Krajcik, Jay Lemke, Michaela Zint, Shawn Stevens, Carrie Beyer, Michele Nelson, Brian Pinney, and Mandy Biggers for their help in thinking about these issues and their thoughtful comments on earlier versions of this paper.
About this article
Cite this article
Forbes, C.T. Curriculum-Dependent and Curriculum-Independent Factors in Preservice Elementary Teachers’ Adaptation of Science Curriculum Materials for Inquiry-Based Science. J Sci Teacher Educ 24, 179–197 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10972-011-9245-0
- Curriculum materials