Online Application to Support Inquiry-based Science Teaching
Purpose: Inquiry-based instruction is an approach used for teaching middle school science. However, a number of important factors—such as prevailing teaching practice or limited professional development resources—have been hypothesized to be obstacles to implementation of inquiry-based practices. This project team is developing the Online Application to Support Inquiry-based Science (OASIS) to facilitate teachers' inquiry-based teaching strategies in their classrooms. Specifically, the OASIS website will support the integration of social networking, media rich videos, activities, materials, and sensors (for example, devices such as probes or motion detectors that measure scientific phenomena) into teaching middle school science concepts.
Project Activities: The project team will develop a website, including videos and social networking features, with a group of expert middle school science teachers from Birmingham, Alabama. First, the team will develop prototypes of the online tools. Following that, a series of iterative pilot studies will be conducted to gather feedback from users and to refine the system. Once development is complete, a pilot study will be conducted in 10 classrooms to assess the feasibility and usability of the system in areas such as lesson planning, integration into classroom practice, and teacher self-efficacy. Data will also be collected to examine the promise of the intervention relating to middle school science learning.
Product: The OASIS web-based system will include assessment rubrics, standards-aligned instructional activities, structured mentoring support for teachers, and online courses for teachers. The goal is to strengthen their inquiry-based teaching. Professional development and training materials, activities, images, and videos will be integrated within the on-line system.