Presenters: Dimple Manasalaxmi Ravuri, Nancy Campos, Oral Presentation
Research Title: Science Teaching and Learning in Elementary School Classrooms
Faculty Advisor: Rossella Santagata
Mentor: Jiwon Lee
A crucial time for students to have a strong foundation in STEM education is in primary school, and to improve science education, research has investigated classroom interactions and teacher questioning methods. There is a current shift towards inquiry-oriented science, which includes asking scientific questions, designing and conducting investigations, and constructing and evaluating explanations. Our study examines what aspects of teacher practices and student interactions explain learning gains in two teachers’ classrooms. Data were drawn from a larger study, Project CRYSTAL, which examined student learning outcomes from a citizen science project. Two fifth-grade teachers, whose students demonstrated learning gains from the larger study, were selected for case study analysis. Both teachers are from the same school in a low socioeconomic status community. We developed a coding system drawing from the Ambitious Science Teaching Framework by Windschitl, Thompson, and Braaten to capture teachers’ eliciting student ideas, pressing for evidence-based explanations and motivating students. Findings showed differences in the frequencies of various instructional moves and inquiry-based questioning to elicit student ideas—all of which influenced the level of student engagement. Despite this, both teachers demonstrated that engaging in a subset of ambitious teaching practices improved student learning outcomes for their classrooms. The findings have implications for the ways educators can be supported in developing pedagogical skills in using the ambitious teacher core practices framework.