Enacting a Reform-Based Science Curriculum: Design Changes to Extend Inquiry

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Charles J. Eick
Michael Dias


The first author re-entered the middle grades classroom to teach a new National Science Foundation (NSF) physical science curriculum that was designed to foster conceptual change through a scientific approach. The curriculum design met the need and call for reform in science education through its focus on inquiry, evidence-based reasoning, peer collaboration, and deeper understanding of important concepts in a science discipline. Lessons followed a learning cycle of activities for knowledge construction. As a self-study, the first author as teacher sought to learn about his beliefs and abilities in practice while enacting and adjusting the curriculum design. The second author helped in this reflective practice through visiting the first author’s classroom for periodic observations, interviews, and discussions about the implementation of this curriculum. Four videotaped lessons and instructional artifacts demonstrate that the teacher enacted the curriculum with high fidelity to its prescribed inquiries and learning cycle format with only minor changes. Instructional design modifications were made in practice to assist lower achieving students meet its high academic challenge of analytical thinking. The merits of the prescribed curriculum for promoting deductive scientific thinking are detailed alongside instructional design decisions emanating from the curriculums’ academic rigor and limitations in connecting to adolescent interest and choice. This case details one example of a teacher who intended to faithfully implement a reform-based science curriculum, realizing along the way, that design changes were warranted to meet the educative and emotional needs of students in a particular context. 


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How to Cite
Eick, C., & Dias, M. (2016). Enacting a Reform-Based Science Curriculum: Design Changes to Extend Inquiry. International Journal of Designs for Learning, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.14434/ijdl.v7i1.19524
K-12 Classroom Implementation
Author Biographies

Charles J. Eick, University of West Georgia

Charles J. Eick is an Associate Professor of Secondary Education at the University of West Georgia where he teaches science and math education courses in the Teach and MAT Programs. His research interests include inquiry as a preferred method of teaching, STEM teacher recruitment and retention, and how personal biography influences teacher identity, choices in practice, and sense of vocation.

Michael Dias, Kennesaw State University

Michael Dias is an Associate Professor of Biology Education at Kennesaw State University where he coordinates undergraduate biology, chemistry and physics teacher education and teaches in the OwlTeach Program. His research and service focuses on K-12 science teacher mentoring, integrated with coteaching with middle and high school science teachers to cultivate more caring, communal and educative

experiences for all learners.