2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 3:15 PM

The Cognitive Impact of a Backwards Faded Scaffolding Approach in An Science Course for Pre-Service Elementary Teachers Based on Inquiry

SLATER, Timothy F., Secondary Education, University of Wyoming, 1000 E. University Blvd, Department 3374, Laramie, WY 82071 and SLATER, Stephanie J., Science and Mathematics Teaching Center, University of Wyoming, 1000 E University Blvd, Department 3992, Laramie, WY 82071, timslaterwyo@gmail.com

It is generally accepted that successful science education should result in learners developing a meaningful understanding of the nature of science as inquiry where: (i) students are engaged in questions; (ii) students are designing plans to pursue data; and (iii) students are generating and defending conclusions based on evidence they have collected. However, a robust literature argues that students do not develop deep understandings of the structure or nature of the scientific discipline of inquiry unless the underlying ideas are taught explicitly. In response to national reform movements calling for future teachers to be prepared to design and deliver science instruction using the principles of inquiry, faculty now at the University of Wyoming Science and Math Teaching Center's Cognition in Astronomy, Physics, and Earth sciences Research (CAPER) Team created and evaluated a specially designed course for pre-service elementary education undergraduates based upon an inquiry-oriented teaching approach framed by the notions of backwards faded-scaffolding as an overarching theme for instruction. Backwards faded-scaffolding is a strategy where the conventional and rigidly linear scientific method is turned on its head and students are first taught how to create conclusions based on evidence, then how experimental design creates evidence, and only at the end introduces students to what we believe is the most challenging part of inquiry – inventing scientifically appropriate questions. Students in this study completed both structured- and open-inquiry projects and presented the results of their investigations several times throughout the semester. Using a single-group, multiple-measures, quasi-experimental design, students demonstrated enhanced content knowledge of space science and inquiry, as well as attitudes and self-efficacy toward teaching.