Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Teaching and Learning

First Advisor

Forbes, Cory T

First Committee Member

Barron, Sheila

Second Committee Member

Hand, Brian

Third Committee Member

Neiman, Maurine

Fourth Committee Member

Park, Soonhye

Fifth Committee Member

Wesely, Pamela


Using a framework for variations of classroom inquiry (National Research Council [NRC], 2000, p. 29), this study explored 40 inservice elementary teachers' planning, modification, and enactment of kit-based science curriculum materials. As part of the study, a new observation protocol was modified from an existing protocol (Practices of Science Observation Protocol [P-SOP]) to measure the amount of teacher direction in science inquiry lessons (Practices of Science Observation Protocol + Directedness [P-SOPd]). An embedded mixed methods design was employed to investigate four questions:

1. How valid and reliable is the P-SOPd?

2. In what ways do inservice elementary teachers adapt existing elementary science curriculum materials across the inquiry continuum?

3. What is the relationship between the overall quality of inquiry and variations of inquiry in elementary teachers' enacted science instruction?

4. How do inservice elementary teachers' ideas about the inquiry continuum influence their adaptation of elementary science curriculum materials?

Each teacher chose three lessons from a science unit for video-recorded observation, and submitted lesson plans for the three lessons. Lesson plans and videos were scored using the P-SOPd. The scores were also compared between the two protocols to determine if a correlation existed between the level of inquiry (measured on the P-SOP) and the amount of teacher direction (measured on the P-SOPd). Findings indicated no significant differences between planned and enacted lessons for the amount of teacher direction, but a correlation existed between the level of inquiry and the amount of teacher direction. In effect, the elementary teachers taught their science curriculum materials with a high level of fidelity for both the features of inquiry and the amount of teacher direction. A smaller group of three case study teachers were followed for the school year to give a more in-depth explanation of the quantitative findings. Case study findings revealed that the teachers' science instruction was teacher-directed while their conceptions of inquiry were student-directed. This study contributes to existing research on preservice teachers' learning about the continuum (Biggers & Forbes, 2012) and inservice teachers' ideas about the five features of inquiry (Biggers & Forbes, in press).


Curriculum materials, Elementary science, Inquiry, Inquiry continuum


xii, 199 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 187-199).


Copyright 2013 Mandy Biggers