Integrating Theory and Practice: Factors Shaping Elementary Teachers' Interpretation of an Inquiry Model for Teaching Social Studies
This study explored the use of a scaffolded version of lesson study to develop professional teaching knowledge for problem-based historical inquiry among three 4th-grade social studies teachers who taught Alabama History at the same high-poverty elementary school. Lesson study is a collaborative professional development approach that involves teachers designing, implementing, and reflecting on instruction in recursive cycles. Drawing upon observations of lesson study planning and debriefing sessions as well as classroom instruction, researchers examined the three teachers’ adoption of professional teaching knowledge for problem-based historical inquiry following three yearlong lesson study cycles. Findings suggest lesson study can be used to cultivate professional teaching knowledge for problem-based historical inquiry among elementary social studies teachers, though the transfer of that knowledge to more typical classroom instruction is fraught with challenges. Three factors appeared to explain variations in teachers’ adoption of professional teaching knowledge for problem-based historical inquiry: the degree to which each teacher deferred to professional authorities, whether and how each teacher prioritized developing prior knowledge before higher order thinking, and the extent to which each teacher held idiosyncratic views on teaching and learning.