INoVATR- A New Professional Development Model for Elementary and Middle School Teachers
Jill Granger, Department of Chemistry (email@example.com)
Arlene Vinion-Dubiel, Department of Chemistry (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Hank Yochum, Department of Physics and Engineering (email@example.com)
Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar VA
The INoVATR (INquiry-Vision-Assessment-Teaching-Reflection) model follows teachers through a process in which they study and practice inquiry based instruction in science and math using approaches that become increasingly student-centered. Our model is best described as an iterative design-teach-assess-reflect cycle, as shown in Figure 1.
We have been using and refining this model for six years with demonstrated success on a number of measures. A manuscript describing our program assessment is in process. Our model is based on best practices (Moseley, 2008) showing reflection as a key step in the process of reforming teachers’ attitudes and practices. The model adopts the Lesson Study approach (Rock, 2005; Arani, 2010) that further promotes reflection in the form of revision through the use of assessment data. By engaging teachers in a hierarchy of inquiry approaches, we have found that teachers come to better understand inquiry as a continuum of strategies built upon key principles of inquiry: questioning, analysis, and communication (Granger, 2011). The approach engages teachers as practitioners of the scientific process through action research, which furthers their understanding of the nature of science (Osborne, 1983; Bybee, 2011).
The typical sequence of professional development activities that support the INoVATR model is shown in Figure 2. During the introduction, the STEM faculty provides model lessons in STEM content that use structure, guided, and open inquiry approaches. During the academic year, the teachers design, implement, and assess a new inquiry lesson in their classrooms. Following the implementation, they reflect on the lesson’s successes and challenges and they write a reflective paper to discuss their assessment results and ideas for a next inquiry. In the first cycle of the program, the teachers focus on structured inquiry pedagogy. The cycle is repeated, each time using a different inquiry approach, moving from a more teacher-centered pedagogy to a more student-centered pedagogy. In the final cycle, the teachers make a choice about the type of inquiry pedagogy they implement.
This project has been funded by the Virginia Math and Science Partnership.