Enhancing Inquiry-Based Teaching Through Collaboration Between Pre-Service and In-Service Teachers

Project Number
OER 04/09 KM

Project Duration
October 2009 - August 2011


More than a decade has gone pass since the National Research Council (1996) in America started the science education reform movement urging teachers and schools to engage in forms of science learning which are authentic and present more accurate ideas about science through promoting inquiry science. In Singapore, the inquiry science efforts received a renewed emphasis in 2008 when it was identified as the guiding philosophy of science education reforms. While inquiry-based teaching and learning has been encouraged in the last few years, the new 2008 primary science syllabus is designed to be more inquiry-centric (MOE, 2007), stating that “central to the curriculum framework is the inculcation of the spirit of scientific inquiry” (MOE, 2007, p. 1). Yet, it is clear that after many years of promoting science inquiry in the US and after much effort and resources channelled to promoting the adoption of inquiry science in schools around the world, especially in the United States, there exists a divide in our understanding of what inquiry science is and how it should be actualized in mainstream classrooms (Bencze & Alsop, 2009; Chin et al., 1994; Liu, 2009; Minstrell & van Zee, 2000). Many researchers in various regions of the world have discussed the challenges of inquiry teaching such as internal (lack of teachers’ knowledge, skills, and beliefs, institutional pressures and normal teaching practices) and external factors (lack of resources and community supports) and have sought effective frameworks of inquiry teaching in their local contexts, given that inquiry approach cultivates students’ scientific mind and problem solving skills for the future society. In this regard, it is critical for us to question how we can bring forth successful implementation of scientific inquiry in Singaporean classrooms that are similar to, but distinctive from, western countries in terms of curriculum structure, classroom environment, assessment systems, and sociocultural contexts. In this pilot study, we examine a possible framework of implementing inquiry-based teaching, by examining the challenges pre-service and in-service teachers encounter and how they cope with them in their practice. Taking into consideration the gaps between theory and practice and university and schools in inquiry implementation, this study generates knowledge about dilemma, tensions and challenges faced by in-service and pre-service teachers about inquiry. Knowledge generated from this study will inform a larger study that will involve interaction between pre-service and in-service teachers in implementing science inquiry in actual classrooms. In-service teachers have practical professional knowledge and experiences of possible limitations and realities in classrooms, while pre-service teachers have current theoretical knowledge about science inquiry and can serve as advocates for infusing reforms and change into existing practices in science classrooms. We employ scenario-based inquiry (SBI) approach as a strategic method to elicit their theories, ideas and challenges about implementation of inquiry practice. Mixed-method research methodology is employed in this study. For quantitative data, we use survey questionnaires developed by Kang, Orgill, and Crippen (2008). Qualitative data will be collected from interviews, discussion, reflective writing, and observation. The data corpus will provide rich analysis of both pre-service as well as in-service teachers’ ideas about challenges in inquiry-based teaching in everyday science classrooms.

Research Themes

Funding Source

Related Links
ReEd Vol 3: Do You Really Know Science Inquiry?

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