BACKWARD FADED SCAFFOLDING: AN INQUIRY-BASED TIDE ACTIVITY FOR ELEMENTARY PRESERVICE TEACHERS
To explore this instructional model, a three-step inquiry activity was created for elementary preservice teachers to build their conceptual understanding of the earth-moon-sun system. First, students’ watch a time-lapsed video of a tidal cycle—this is to assess their prior knowledge. The instructor then poses, “what do tidal cycles look like over a 24-hour period?” Using graph paper, students predict this cycle. To assess their prediction, the instructor displays how to collect tidal data from NOAA’s Tides and Currents website. Students graph their results and compare them to their initial prediction. Second, the instructor poses, “how do these tides change over a month?” Again, students predict these cycles, but they now collect their data independently from the NOAA website. Students then draw conclusions by comparing their initial predictions with the data they collected. Third, students brainstorm their own research questions such as “Are all tidal cycles similar among various locations?” Students record their procedures, collect their data, graph their results, and share their conclusions with their peers. Overall, the backward-faded scaffolding improved students’ methods of doing science when compared to iterations prior to this instructional modification.