This study examined elementary teachers’ instructional strategies for promoting scientific understanding and inquiry and supporting English language development with diverse student groups including English language learners. The study was part of a 5-year research and development project consisting of reform-based science curriculum units and teacher workshops aimed at providing effective science instruction to promote students’ science and literacy achievement in urban elementary schools. Data consisted of 213 post-observation interviews with third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers. The teachers reported using instructional strategies to promote scientific understanding, but generally did not employ more sophisticated inquiry-based strategies. They also reported using instructional strategies to support English language development. There were significant differences among grade levels and by years of teacher participation.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Abd-El-Khalick, F., Boujaoude, S., Duschl, R., Lederman, N. G., Mamlok-Naaman, R., Hofstein, A., et al. (2004). Inquiry in science education: International perspectives. Science Education, 88, 397–419.
Abrams, E., Southerland, S. A., & Evans, C. A. (2007). Inquiry in the classroom: Necessary components of a useful definition. In E. Abrams, S. A. Southerland, & P. Silva (Eds.), Inquiry in the science classroom: Realities and opportunities (pp. 1–2). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
Amaral, O. M., Garrison, L., & Klentschy, M. (2002). Helping English learners increase achievement through inquiry-based science instruction. Bilingual Research Journal, 26(2), 213–239.
Barab, S. A., & Luehmann, A. L. (2003). Building sustainable science curriculum: Acknowledging and accommodating local adaptation. Science Education, 87(4), 454–467.
Blanchard, M., Southerland, S. A., & Granger, D. E. (2009). No silver bullet for inquiry: Making sense of teacher change following inquiry-based research experience for teachers. Science Education, 93(2), 322–360.
Bogdan, R. C., & Biklen, S. K. (2003). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theories and methods. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Bryan, L. A. (2003). Nestedness of beliefs: Examining a prospective elementary teacher’s belief system about science teaching and learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40, 835–868.
Bryan, L. A., & Atwater, M. M. (2002). Teacher beliefs and cultural models: A challenge for science teacher preparation programs. Science Education, 86, 821–839.
Crawford, B. (2007). Learning to teach science as inquiry in the rough and tumble of practice. Journal of Research in Science Education, 44(4), 613–642.
Cuevas, P., Lee, O., Hart, J., & Deaktor, R. (2005). Improving science inquiry with elementary students of diverse backgrounds. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(3), 337–357.
Dass, P. M. (2001). Implementation of instructional innovations in K-8 science classes: Perspectives of inservice teachers. International Journal of Science Education, 23(9), 969–984.
Fradd, S. H., Lee, O., Sutman, F. X., & Saxton, M. K. (2002). Materials development promoting science inquiry with English language learners: A case study. Bilingual Research Journal, 25(4), 479–501.
Garet, M. S., Porter, A. C., Desimone, L., Birman, B. F., & Yoon, K. S. (2001). What makes professional development effective? Results from a national sample of teachers. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 915–945.
Gorgorio, N., & Planas, N. (2001). Teaching mathematics in multilingual classrooms. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 47(1), 7–33.
Grossman, P. L. (1990). The making of a teacher. Teacher knowledge and teacher education. New York: Teachers College Press.
Janzen, J. (2008). Teaching English language learners in the content areas. Review of Educational Research, 78(4), 1010–1038.
Kennedy, M. (1998). Education reform and subject matter knowledge. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 35, 249–263.
Keys, C. W., & Bryan, L. A. (2001). Co-constructing inquiry-based science with teachers: Essential research for lasting reform. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(6), 631–645.
Khisty, L. (2002). Mathematics learning and the Latino student: Suggestions from research for classroom practice. Teaching children mathematics, 9(1), 32–35.
Lee, O. (2005). Science education and English language learners: Synthesis and research agenda. Review of Educational Research, 75(4), 491–530.
Lee, O., Lewis, S., Adamson, K., Maerten-Rivera, J., & Secada, W. G. (2008). Urban elementary school teachers’ knowledge and practices in teaching science to English language learners. Science Education, 92(4), 733–758.
Lee, O., & Maerten-Rivera, J. (in press). Teacher change in elementary science instruction with English language learners: Multi-year professional development intervention across multiple grades. Teachers College Record.
Loeb, S., Darling-Hammond, L., & Luczak, J. (2005). How teaching conditions predict teacher turnover in California schools. Peabody Journal of Education, 80(3), 44–70.
Luft, J. (2007). Minding the gap: Needed research in beginning/newly qualified science teachers. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 44(4), 532–537.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2001). Teacher preparation and professional development: 2000. Washington, DC: US Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement.
National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
National Research Council. (2000). Inquiry and the national science education standards: A guide for teaching and learning. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Pajares, M. F. (1992). Teachers’ beliefs and educational research: Cleaning up a messy construct. Review of Educational Research, 62, 307–332.
Penuel, W. R., Fishman, B. J., Yamaguchi, R., & Gallagher, L. P. (2007). What makes professional development effective? Strategies to foster curriculum implementation. American Educational Research Journal, 44(4), 921–958.
Romberg, T. A., Carpenter, T., & Dremock, F. (Eds.). (2005). Understanding mathematics and science matters. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15, 4–14.
Smith, L. K., & Southerland, S. A. (2007). Reforming practice or modifying reforms? Elementary teachers’ response to the tools of reform. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 44(3), 396–423.
Stoddart, T., Pinal, A., Latzke, M., & Canaday, D. (2002). Integrating inquiry science and language development for English language learners. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39, 664–687.
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. (1997). ESL standards for pre-K—12 students. Alexandria, VA: Author.
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. (2006). PreK-12 English language proficiency standards. Alexandria, VA: Author.
Wilson, S. M., & Berne, J. (2004). Teacher learning and the acquisition of professional knowledge: An examination of research on contemporary professional development. In A. Iran-Nejad & P. D. Pearson (Eds.), Review of Research in Education (Vol. 24, pp. 173–209). Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.
Woodbury, S., & Gess-Newsome, J. (2002). Overcoming the paradox of change without difference: A model of change in the arena of fundamental school reform. Educational Policy, 16(5), 763–782.
Yerrick, R. K. (2000). Lower track students’ argumentation and open inquiry instruction. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37(8), 807–838.
Appendix 1: Post-Observation Interview
Appendix 2: Analysis of Post-Observation Interviews
About this article
Cite this article
Adamson, K., Santau, A. & Lee, O. The Impact of Professional Development on Elementary Teachers’ Strategies for Teaching Science with Diverse Student Groups in Urban Elementary Schools. J Sci Teacher Educ 24, 553–571 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10972-012-9306-z
- Diverse Student Groups
- Professional Development Intervention
- English Language Development
- English Language Learners (ELLs)
- Post-observation Interview