College science teachers -- Attitudes, Education, Higher, Inquiry based learning, Science -- Study and teaching (Higher)


The purpose of the study was to examine college science professors’ beliefs regarding the use of inquiry in the college science classroom, how these beliefs impacted their instructional choices and how these beliefs were enacted in the classroom. Additional questions were how teachers’ beliefs vary across institution types (community college, private, four year college, and large research institution), and how beliefs vary across disciplines (life sciences and physical sciences). A case study design was required for this study due to the complexity of the topic and different data sources needed to answer the fore stated research questions. These data sources included surveys, interviews, classroom and laboratory observations and written records such as laboratory activities and syllabi. Twelve college professors at three different institutions; large research institution, small, private four year college and community college were interviewed. In addition to interviews, classes and labs were observed, a questionnaire on the five essential features of inquiry was given and samples of labs and syllabi were obtained. A laboratory coordinator was also interviewed as she was responsible for the laboratory section for two of the professors at the research institution. All schools were located in the southeast United States. The perception of inquiry by college science professors has been found to be a barrier to the inclusion of inquiry in college classrooms and was supported in the current study. While the professors described constraints to inquiry such as large class size, lack of time, disinterest of students, and lack of equipment, these limitations were due, in part, to the professors’ incomplete view of inquiry as what researchers do. This view was most pronounced with the professors at the large, research institution. At the research institution, observations in the classroom mirrored the beliefs of inquiry. Lecture was the primary instruction in the science classroom, and the labs were scripted and shown to be “cookbook” with little or no evidence of inquiry noted in the labs iv obtained. There was more evidence of inquiry at the private four-year college and community college than at the large research institution; what was observed in the classroom mirrored what the professors believed about inquiry. There was a difference in the beliefs between institutions with the professors at the research institution holding an incomplete view of inquiry while the professors at the private college and community college included many aspects of the inquiry continuum in their view of inquiry. There were no differences noted between disciplines.


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Jeanpierre, Bobby


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education








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Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education, Education -- Dissertations, Academic

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