Technology-rich inquiry science in urban classrooms: What are the barriers to inquiry pedagogy?

  • Songer N
  • Lee H
  • Kam R
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What are the barriers to technology-rich inquiry pedagogy in urban science classrooms, and what kinds of programs and support structures allow these barriers to be overcome? Research on the pedagogical practices within urban classrooms suggests that as a result of many constraints, many urban teachers' practices emphasize directive, controlling teaching, that is, the “pedagogy of poverty” (Haberman, 1991), rather than the facilitation of students' ownership and control over their learning, as advocated in inquiry science. On balance, research programs that advocate standards-based or inquiry teaching pedagogies demonstrate strong learning outcomes by urban students. This study tracked classroom research on a technology-rich inquiry weather program with six urban science teachers. The teachers implemented this program in coordination with a district-wide middle school science reform. Results indicated that despite many challenges in the first year of implementation, students in all 19 classrooms of this program demonstrated significant content and inquiry gains. In addition, case study data comprised of twice-weekly classroom observations and interviews with the six teachers suggest support structures that were both conducive and challenging to inquiry pedagogy. Our work has extended previous studies on urban science pedagogy and practices as it has begun to articulate what role the technological component plays either in contributing to the challenges we experienced or in helping urban science classrooms to realize inquiry science and other positive learning values. Although these data outline results after only the first year of systemic reform, we suggest that they begin to build evidence for the role of technology-rich inquiry programs in combating the pedagogy of poverty in urban science classrooms.

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