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Coaching Science Inquiry (CSI) in Rural Schools

This randomized controlled trial with 124 rural middle and high school science teachers across 109 schools in Nebraska examines the impact of professional development with technology-delivered follow-up coaching (compared to a business as usual control) on teacher and student inquiry knowledge, skills, self-efficacy and attitudes. Coaching Science Inquiry (CSI) infuses instruction of scientific inquiry knowledge and skills with science content (e.g., physical, life, and earth science) and is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (2013) practices of questioning, investigating, collecting data, and explaining and communicating results.

Teachers in schools randomly assigned to the treatment group participated in a two-week summer institute employing evidence-based professional development practices followed by technology-delivered instructional coaching sessions led by project-based science coaches over 6–8 weeks during the school year. The coaching process focused on teacher-coach planning followed by opportunities for teachers to practice, refine, and analyze new and existing skills. Teacher inquiry knowledge, self-efficacy, beliefs and teaching behaviors were assessed pre-post using project-developed scales and coded from videotaped observations.

Student inquiry knowledge and skills, attitudes toward science, and engagement were assessed pre-post using project-developed scales and the Nebraska Science Assessment (NESA) along with select items from the State Collaboratives on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS), the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) scales.