Linking Research and Practice in Science Teaching

For many years I was fortunate to conduct seminars for the Bureau of Research in Education (BER), an organization that provides staff development and training resources for educators in North America.  One of the principles that provided the framework for the seminars that I did, and others that the BER offers is the link between research and practice.  That is to say, the seminars needed to show how current research in science education could be used to improve science teaching and student learning.  The seminars needed to be practical, but they also needed to be based on research.

I learned that science teachers were eager to not only be introduced to active learning science activities, but also were open to exploring the research forming the foundation for these activities.  The seminars were based on an adult active learning model, and an inquiry and humanistic approach to science teaching and learning.

In the most recent issue of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching (JRST), the official journal of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), Dr. Julie A. Luft, of Arizona State University, Tempe, introduced the first virtual issue of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching which included nine articles focused on the thematic focus of scientific inquiry.  As Dr. Luft indicated, this an effort by two communities (science education researchers and science teachers) to bridge the research and practice gap.  The two communities she is writing about include the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST).  One important point that is made in her introductory article is that a recent research study conducted by NSTA indicated clearly that science teachers wanted to explore with their colleagues emerging issues in science education, and to participate in science education research.

That said, the issue is important, especially since we are beginning a new school year, and this is the time that courses begin, and attitudes about science learning begin to develop.  The issue explores a variety of topics related to inquiry in the science teaching.  Here is a list of the articles in the virtual journal:

  1. Embracing the essence of inquiry: New roles for science teachers Barbara A. Crawford
  2. Progressive inquiry in a computer-supported biology class Kai Hakkarainen
  3. Folk theories of inquiry: How preservice teachers reproduce the discourse and practices of an atheoretical scientific method Mark Windschitl
  4. Developing students’ ability to ask more and better questions resulting from inquiry-type chemistry laboratories Avi Hofstein, Oshrit Navon, Mira Kipnis, Rachel Mamlok-Naaman
  5. Characteristics of professional development that effect change in secondary science teachers’ classroom practices Bobby Jeanpierre, Karen Oberhauser, Carol Freeman
  6. Science inquiry and student diversity: Enhanced abilities and continuing difficulties after an instructional intervention Okhee Lee, Cory Buxton, Scott Lewis, Kathryn LeRoy
  7. Inscriptional practices in two inquiry-based classrooms: A case study of seventh graders’ use of data tables and graphs Hsin-Kai Wu, Joseph S. Krajcik
  8. Exploring teachers’ informal formative assessment practices and students’ understanding in the context of scientific inquiry Maria Araceli Ruiz-Primo, Erin Marie Furtak
  9. The development of dynamic inquiry performances within an open inquiry setting: A comparison to guided inquiry setting Irit Sadeh, Michal Zion
Luft, J. (2010). Building a bridge between research and practice Journal of Research in Science Teaching DOI: 10.1002/tea.20392

About Jack Hassard

Jack Hassard is a writer, a former high school teacher, and Professor Emeritus of Science Education, Georgia State University