Exploring a Model of Situated Professional Development: Impact on Classroom Practice

  • Jonathan Singer
  • Christine Lotter
  • Robert Feller
  • Harry Gates


A hallmark of current science education reform involves teaching through inquiry. However, the widespread use of inquiry-based instruction in many classrooms has not occurred (Roehrig and Luft in Int J Sci Educ 26:3–24, 2004; Schneider et al. in J Res Sci Teach 42:283–312, 2005). The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of a professional development program on middle school science teachers’ ability to enact inquiry-based pedagogical practices. Data were generated through evaluation of teacher practice using the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) (Sawada et al. in School Sci Math 102:245–253, 2002) at three distinct junctures, before, during, and after the professional development treatment. Analysis of teacher-participant post-institute reflections was then utilized to determine the perceived role of the various institute components. Statistical significant changes in RTOP scores indicated that the teachers were able to successfully transfer the enactment of the inquiry-based practices into their classrooms. The subsequent discussion provides connection between these pedagogical changes with use of professional development strategies that provide a situated learning environment.


Professional development Middle school Inquiry Controlled practice 



The National Science Foundation Teacher Professional Continuum Program (DESIE-0455811) provided funding for the research described in this paper.


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Copyright information

© The Association for Science Teacher Education, USA 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Singer
    • 1
  • Christine Lotter
    • 2
  • Robert Feller
    • 3
  • Harry Gates
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of EducationUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore CountyBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of Instruction and Teacher Education, College of EducationUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Center for Science EducationUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  4. 4.School District Five of Lexington and Richland CountiesIrmoUSA

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