A Novel Approach to Professional Development in Middle School Science: Instructional Coaching by University Professors to Improve the Instructional Core

Nadine Mchenry, Laurie Borger, Louise Liable-Sands

Abstract


The current study was constructed based on the recommendations of a previous study (McHenry & Borger, 2013).
Though inquiry-based teaching has long been touted as an effective pedagogy, its application by middle school
science teachers has been problematic. Using tools developed from the previous study in conjunction with
professional development grounded in instructional coaching, the program attempted to support middle school
teachers in making informed instructional decisions that enhance classroom practices to support students in reaching
full science proficiency. Over the two and one-half year span of the program, researchers found that middle school
teachers were able to embrace major facets of the 5E model of inquiry. While their view of the nature of science
expanded slightly, they still struggle with ideas related to argumentation and theory building. The impediments that
influenced the success and continuation of the program were three-fold. There was a lack of administrative
partnership due to a change in upper-level district leadership. The decision to adopt new curricular materials was
counter to the goals of the inquiry-based teaching model and was adopted without discussion with the university
coaches. There was inadequate time allotted to the program in the last year. Though administrative difficulties led to
the discontinuation of the program, the enthusiasm exhibited by the middle level teachers speaks to the need for an
instructional coaching partnership that provides this type of sustained, reform-based, transformational professional
development that enhances the instructional core.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jct.v6n2p59

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Journal of Curriculum and Teaching

ISSN 1927-2677 (Print) ISSN 1927-2685 (Online)

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