Date of Award

8-1-2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

McIntyre, Dr. John

Abstract

The purpose of this study was threefold: (a) to explore teachers’ knowledge and beliefs about inquiry within an inclusive classroom, (b) to determine teachers’ perceptions of the influence of inquiry within their practice, (c) to examine teachers’ challenges and barriers to implementing inquiry within an inclusive classroom. This in-depth case study employed interviews, observations, and focus group discussions to gather qualitative data concerning this phenomenon. The participants included three science teachers (two elementary, one middle school) and one middle school Social Studies and English Language Arts (ELA) teacher. This study took place at a private school in a suburban area in a Midwestern city in the United States. The study findings showed the complexity of understanding teachers’ perceptions and how teachers’ beliefs conflicted with their practice. Teachers held different views about the meaning of inquiry and most lacked a solid understanding of the process of inquiry; this could be attributed to a lack of relevant professional development during their preparation program or education. Some teachers believed that having students with different abilities and skill levels was more challenging than implementing inquiry. However, most of the teachers were unsure about what inquiry was. The science teachers expressed more sustentative substantive challenges with implementing inquiry, standards, and literacy. The results of this study suggest that educators clarify the meaning of inquiry and simplify the process of implementing it with the assistance of definitive professional development. Teacher educators need to provide a course for teaching methods that implement inquiry in conjunction with inclusive education to especially improve science education. When implementing inquiry, teachers need to recognize the importance of challenging students to think by providing critical-thinking questions in a non-threatening way.

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