Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume III, Issue 1 2014 5. Think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence and explanations; 6. Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and predictions; 7. Communicate scientific procedures and explanations; and 8. Use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry.
This means that the focus shifts from the teacher to the student. In true inquiry-based science, the teacher becomes a facilitator. The responsibility is placed on the students for asking questions, planning and implementing investigations, using the appropriate tools and techniques, and developing an analysis of possible explanations and scientific arguments through critical thinking skills (Enger, 1998; Lederman, 2003; Patchen & Smithenry, 2013; Johnson, et al 1998; and Zembal-Saul, 2002). The notion of students becoming responsible for developing questions, formulating hypotheses, and conducting their own experiments often provides motivation to students who would otherwise become uninterested in school. However, inquiry-based science also greatly alters the teacherâ€™s role in the science classroom (Anderson, 2002; Biggers & Forbes, 2012; Kawalker & Vijapurkar, 2013; Ortego, Luft & Wang, 2013). This type of instruction demands a high content knowledge and the ability to multi-task several groups of students at one time (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). Many current science teachers were not taught with an inquiry-based method in their science classes and therefore, may not have a frame of reference for this instructional strategy (Ozel & Luft, 2013; Smith, & Gess-Newsome, 2004). Additionally, teachers may not have the necessary content knowledge (James, et al., 2001; Tekkaya et al., 2004). In order to be successful, inquiry-based science must be supported through on-going professional development and monitoring (Banilower, Heck, & Weiss, 2007; Capps, 2013; Jeanpierre, Oberhauser, & Freeman, 2005; Kimble, Yager, & Yager, 2006; Lotter, Harwood, & Bonner, 2006; Seraphin, Philippoff, Parisky, Degnan & Warren, 2013; Shymanskya, 2013). Statement of the Purpose The primary purpose of this mixed method design was to determine the extent to which middle school science teachers are implementing the state requirement of inquiry-based science. A secondary purpose was to evaluate the common understanding of inquiry-based science by middle school science teachers. While no single study can expect to solve such a complex educational issue as the implementation of inquiry-based science, an additional analysis on scientific inquiry can assist researchers in understanding how to guide middle school teachers in the process of implementing inquiry-based science strategies in individual classrooms. Design and Methodology The research design of this study was a mixed method design with a quantitative survey (Creswell, & Plano Clark, 2007) sent to five school districts with 45 middle school science teachers and follow-up case study of interviews with seven middle school science teachers on their implementation of inquiry-based science strategies. Permission for sending surveys and requesting teacher participation was obtained from the superintendent and campus principal of each district and campus. Districts and middle schools were chosen with a convenient 10