Article Summary

You Asked Open-ended Questions, Now What? Understanding the Nature of Stumbling Blocks in Teaching Inquiry Lessons    PDF

2010/2011, Vol. 20, No. 2, 10-23

Undergraduate preservice teachers face many challenges implementing inquiry pedagogy in mathematics lessons. This study provides a step-by-step case analysis of an undergraduate preservice teacherís actions and responses while teaching an inquiry lesson during a summer math camp for grade 3-6 students conducted at a university. Stumbling blocks that hindered achievement of the overall goals of the inquiry lesson emerged when the preservice teacher asked open-ended questions and learners gave diverse, unexpected responses. Because no prior thought was given to possible student answers, the preservice teacher was not equipped to give pedagogically meaningful responses to her students. Often, the preservice teacher simply ignored the unanticipated responses, impeding the studentsí meaning-making attempts. Based on emergent stumbling blocks observed, this study recommends that teacher educators focus novice teacher preparation in the areas of a) anticipating possibilities in studentsí diverse responses, b) giving pedagogically meaningful explanations that bridge mathematical content to studentsí thinking, and c) in-depth, structured reflection of teacher performance and teacher response to studentsí thinking.

About the Authors:
Noriyuki Inoue is an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology and Mathematics Education at the University of San Diego. His recent work focuses on inquiry pedagogy, Japanese lesson study, action research methodology, and cultural epistemology and learning.

Sandy Buczynski is an Associate Professor in the Math, Science and Technology Education Program at the University of San Diego. She is the co-author of recently published: Story starters and science notebooking: Developing childrenís thinking through literacy and inquiry. Her research interests include professional development, inquiry pedagogy, and international education.

Last modified: 30 July 2012.
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