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Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume III, Issue 1 2014 Two of the teachers expressed a need for more resources which require larger budgets. A teacher stated, “Resources are needed with the new TEKS”. A second teacher shared, “You need a budget that allows you to purchase the items needed for science inquiry.” Finally, a teacher stated that science inquiry is not conducted frequently or correctly. She stated, ‘Lesson plans have not included labs for the past three weeks. Our lesson plans say its’ a lab, but if someone would walk into the room they would classify it as notes or an activity.” Some of the teachers addressed the students’ limited content knowledge and lack of experience as problems for conducting science inquiry. One teacher said, “The majority of students stay home and play video games. They are not used to exploring.” Another teacher concurred and added, “The students lack prior knowledge on major science concepts.” The challenges for implementation were also related the large variance in students’ abilities in one classroom. She shared that, “In an inclusion style classroom it is challenging to conduct science inquiry when there are varying abilities of students.” This matches the idea of needing to ensure all students succeed even those where the levels of students’ abilities are so diverse. The teacher stated, “There is pressure to insure students of all learning levels are successful.” Another teacher described the students as lacking the independent curiosity for exploration when she said, “my students are dependent on the teacher.” Teachers understood that the science inquiry classrooms required different skills from them. One of the major skills identified was classroom management skills. Another skill was choosing the curriculum matched to the TEKS and then creating science inquiry for those TEKS. The teacher stated, “There is a vast amount of curriculum to choose from and it takes time to create all TEKS in the form of science inquiry.” Conclusions and Implications What is the level of understanding of the process of inquiry-based science among middle school science teachers in Texas? The majority of the respondents rated their understanding of science inquiry as high (36.4%) to very high (18.2%). Additionally, the majority of respondents rated the level of science content knowledge as high (55.8%) to very high (27.9%). However, the individual definitions of inquiry-based science ranged greatly from labs and investigations, to problem solving, using the scientific method, and discovering science facts. During classroom observations, what the observers defined as inquiry-based science strategies often differed from the teacher’s perceptions of science inquiry. This leads to the conclusion that while teachers feel confident in their understanding of what inquiry-based science looks like in practice, the reality is that most of them are not using common language and it is therefore difficult to determine which teachers are truly using inquiry-based science strategies effectively and routinely. What percentage of instructional time is spent on the implementation of inquiry-based science in middle school science classrooms in Texas?


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