A Teacher Discusses Professional Development for Inquiry-Based Teaching: Steve’s Story
When I began my three-year masters program, I had several reservations about teaching through inquiry. I thought it would require more time than my typical lecture and laboratory teaching. I also thought it would conflict with the demand for “coverage” of science content. And I didn’t want to leave my “comfort zone” where my students and I generally knew what was expected.
At the same time, I felt that I was not exposing my students to enough of the important and interesting ideas of physics. I had known for years, based on the questions I asked on tests and during classes, that my students weren’t retaining much of anything I “taught.” They seemed to know a lot and understand very little. It was obvious to me that the students were memorizing the terms and equations only long enough to answer questions on a test and then the information vanished.
I gained a number of insights as I tried and refined various methods introduced during my masters program. The program consisted of six-week full-time summer institutes and seminars during the academic year. My first important insight occurred when I was involved in a long-term inquiry at the beginning of the first summer. Being