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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards: A Guide for Teaching and Learning

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Jul 03, 2002 by Teacher Education
Overview: This book focuses on research about the benefits of inquiry-based science
teaching. It provides clear, concise information that should help science
teachers make a case for inquiry-based teaching to parents and administrators.
According to a review from Horizon Research, Inc., that appears on the
introductory page, ?The material makes a strong effort to elucidate inquiry
concepts clearly, to lessen any sense of apprehension in readers less familiar
with this approach.?
Learning Goals: To understand the rationale behind inquiry-based science teaching, Inquiry and
the National Science Education Standards, has been designed to serve as a
practical guide for teachers, professional developers, administrators, and
others who wish to respond to the call for an increased emphasis on inquiry.
Target Student Population: This book would be of use to K-12 science teachers and students in teacher
education programs.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: A basic understanding of K-12 education and what is developmentally appropriate.
Also, knowledge of the national science standards.
Type of Material: Resource. This is a book published on the Web.
Recommended Uses: Science education, interdisciplinary instruction, professional development.
Teachers can make this URL available to parents and administrators who struggle
to understand the inquiry-based science teaching recommended by the National
Science Education Standards and AAAS Benchmarks.
Technical Requirements: Works with either Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The National Science Education Standards set the expectations for what K-12
students should be able to do in science as they progress through school. These
and other science education reform initiatives recommend inquiry-based
teaching. This book supplements and supports the Standards by discussing and
presenting information that considers the principles and concepts of science,
acquiring the reasoning and procedural skills of scientists, and understanding
the nature of science as a particular form of human endeavor. Notions and
approaches for inquiry and investigation are explored in this text. Examples of
alignment to the actual Science Education Standards are presented in the
Appendix. This book is short and concise in describing what is meant by
inquiry-based science teaching. The views and references cited represent the
best of our current knowledge of science teaching and learning. The pages that
DO have good references to primary research (pp 78-79 about hypothesis testing,
for example) are the most valuable parts of this book, making it a key resource
for science teachers making the transition to becoming teacher researchers.
Concerns: At first one reviewer thought this book actually included the science education
standards, but was only able to find a sample representation in the appendix.
Another reviewer is concerned that what many parents, instructors, and
administrators actually need is more and stronger research evidence showing that
inquiry-based teaching actually makes a difference in the quality of learning,
retention, or future academic success of the learner. Unfortunately, most
citations of research evidence that supports the views expressed in this book
are listed only briefly in chapter 2 and then separate from the main discussion
into a sixth chapter. References to the research basis for the myths on pages
36-37, for example, are needed. Case studies where the teacher mentions using
?research-based? curriculum can be misleading. What curriculum ? and where is
that research? The case study approach skirts these issues.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: This text, whether online or in hard copy, would be very useful to those earning
teaching certification and those in higher education working with science
education. Issues of pedagogy, approaches for inquiry and investigation, and
alignment with the National Science education Standards are presented in the
text. Tables and references are made to the actual Standards throughout the
book.

On-line resource search functions are revolutionizing how we educate future and
practicing teachers. These students now search books published to the Web using
keywords to find quotes to define terms they use when writing papers. A
problem that remains is the need to determine the sorts of key words that are
addressed in the chapters of an On-line book. Teachers struggle to find the
right key words to identify quotes or explanations that would deepen their
understanding of the material addressed. Under the assumption that readers do
NOT read entire On-line books, the chapter selector on each page is quite useful
because it serves as a navigational aid to allow On-line learners to ?page
through? the material to determine whether or not the content is relevant to the
learner?s immediate research goals. The index of terms provides a list of key
terms for searching through the text.

For example, a search of the term ?Standards? provides the following quote from
the preface of this book (at the bottom of page xv). The "prominent feature of
the Standards is a focus on inquiry. The term ?inquiry? is used in two different
ways in the Standards. First, it refers to the abilities students should
develop to be able to design and conduct scientific investigations and to the
understandings they should gain about the nature of scientific inquiry. Second,
it refers to the teaching and learning strategies that enable scientific
concepts to be mastered through investigations. In this way, the Standards draw
connections between learning science, learning to do science, and learning about
science." Such a clear and concise definition enables students to write papers
that build on explicit concepts, thus improving the quality of their academic
work.
Concerns: However, when using the search engine with the PDF version of the book, the link
to the quote cited above lead to an error page. To find the quote, it was
necessary to type xv into the page selector field, since the link did not work.
This problem did not show up with all the pages. Following the search all the
excerpts shown had typographical errors.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The information is online. The search functions for this book are outstanding.
The navigational aids help one navigate by concept so that learners can browse
through On-line books as they might page through a published book.
Concerns: On the opening page, you must look for the link on the upper left by the book
icon that says "Read it online--FREE!." When you click on that, the text comes
up, but with some browsers, it is unreadable because it is so small. Clicking
on the link just below the book icon that says "Open Book-Readable" presents the
same problem. Finally, if you click on the link below that one, that says
"HTML," you do get the book in a readable format with links to specific
information, but without some of the useful navigation and search functions. In
the navigation format, progress from page to page is SLOW, especially via a
telephone modem connection. It therefore becomes imperative for users to use
the navigational aids to move from section to section with the minimum of
loading new book pages.

Other Issues and Comments: The listed URL is actually a promotion for buying the book. The On-line version
with navigation and search capabilities has a link that appears on each page to
buy the book On-line for a 20% discount price (one solution to the frustration
of slow loading pages). Few of us actually read books published on the Web.
One reviewer suggests that a benefit from the On-line preview of books is the
motivation to buy books that might not otherwise be purchased. The opportunity
for students to access and use the NAP On-line books without requiring the
purchase as an additional textbook may actually encourage future teachers to
develop the initiative needed to build their own library of professional books.
Instructors can direct students to the HTML version,
http://books.nap.edu/html/inquiry_addendum/, and bypass the book ads if the
promotion or the navigational version font become concerns.