Teacher perceptions of facilitating inquiry-based instruction following a 12-month professional development experience
Using inquiry-based learning instructional strategies as a way to integrate science into secondary classrooms is a common approach in education. This study documents agricultural teachers’ perceptions of science integration using inquiry-based learning as an instructional method when teaching animal science after participating in a on professional development program. A focus group (n = 10) was used to collect data which were analyzed using the constant comparative method. The following six themes emerged: (a) perceived value in inquiry-based learning, (b) alignment to state and local expectations, (c) value and challenges of a 12-month program, (d) challenges in engaging science teachers, (e) confidence in teaching technical content, and (f) integrating science concepts. Teachers in the focus group described positive experiences and attitudes when using inquiry-based learning techniques in their classrooms and described an appreciation for the 12-month program, including how the approach helped to meet state standards and local administrative requirements. Logistical challenges of a 12-month program existed, but also provided accountability for teachers. The program increased teachers’ confidence in both instruction of technical content and their ability to engage students while integrating science concepts.
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