Developing an Understanding of Inquiry by Teachers and Graduate Student Scientists through a Collaborative Professional Development Program

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Stephen J. Van Hook
Tracy L. Huziak-Clark
Julie Nurnberger-Haag
Lena Ballone-Duran


The PRISM program partnered K-12 teachers with science and mathematics graduate
students who served as Scientists or Mathematicians-in-Residence in the teachers’
classrooms. The teachers and graduate students participated in a Summer Inquiry Institute
during which they learned about inquiry-based instruction, and then collaborated to
develop and co-teach content-rich, inquiry-based instruction in the teachers’ classrooms
for one academic year. In the first three years of the program, 27 teachers and 18 graduate
students participated. The research study examined how participation in PRISM
influenced the teachers’ and graduate students’ conceptions of inquiry, explored what
they learned about inquiry by implementing inquiry together in the classroom, and
studied the role that their collaboration played in the development of their conceptions of
inquiry. Conceptions and use of inquiry were examined through surveys, online journals,
interviews and classroom observations. The results indicate that the teachers and graduate
students deepened and expanded their understanding of inquiry. Particular themes
emerged related to what the teachers and graduate students learned about inquiry through
the act of teaching via inquiry were (a) inquiry engages students’ minds not just their
hands, (b) discussion is essential for student learning, and (c) teachers need to help
develop a classroom culture conducive to inquiry in order for students to be successful
with inquiry-based learning. This research indicates that teacher-scientist/mathematician
partnerships can be beneficial to both parties when structured within a long-term
professional development program that immerses the participants in the inquiry process
and provides ongoing support.

Article Details

Author Biographies

Stephen J. Van Hook

The Pennsylvania State University

Tracy L. Huziak-Clark

Bowling Green State University

Julie Nurnberger-Haag

Michigan State University

Lena Ballone-Duran

Bowling Green State University