Date of Award

5-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Committee Member

Dr. Michelle Patrick Cook, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Cynthia Christine Minchew Deaton

Committee Member

Dr. Victoria Ridgeway Gillis, University of Wyoming

Committee Member

Ms. Renea C. Hardwick

Committee Member

Dr. Jeff C. Marshall

Abstract

The process of teaching, especially inquiry, is complex and requires extended time for developing one's instructional practice (Loucks-Horsley, Stiles, Mundry, Love, & Hewson, 2010). The implementation of a continued cycle of self-reflection can engage teachers in analyzing their prior experiences and understandings about their instructional practice to promote the accommodation of new concepts and transform their practice. However, many teachers have difficulty engaging in the cognitive dissonance needed to identify those problems and promote their own growth without support. As one's professional practice becomes more repetitive and routine, it is difficult for the practitioner to recognize opportunities in which to contemplate one's habitual actions (Schon, 1983). In this multi-case study, two middle school science teachers who were engaged within a sustained professional development initiative participated in a series of one-on-one reflective dialogues regarding the decisions they made about the utilization of inquiry-based instruction. In addition, these teachers were asked to reflect upon the criteria used to determine how and when to implement these inquiry-based practices. These reflective dialogue sessions provided the opportunity to observe teacher conceptions and stimulate teacher cognitive dissonance about instructional practice. Qualitative analysis of data collected from these reflective dialogues along with informal and formal classroom observations of instructional practice uncovered diverse perceptions regarding the implementation of inquiry-based methods into present teaching practice. The use of reflective dialogue within the existing structure of the professional development initiative allowed for the facilitators of the professional development initiative to tailor ongoing support and their effective implementation of inquiry-based instruction. Additional research is needed to investigate the impact of reflective dialogue in achieving accommodation of new concepts leading to lasting conceptual change about inquiry-based instruction.

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