Creating an Equitable Classroom Environment: A Case Study of a Preservice Elementary Teacher Learning What It Means to "Do Inquiry"

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Villa, Elsa Q.; Baptiste, H. Prentice Multicultural Education, v21 n2 p25-32 Win 2014


In this article, the authors present a case study of a preservice teacher who participated in a two-semester course sequence of elementary science and mathematics methods spanning one academic year. These two courses were taught by the first author and embedded a pedagogical approach grounded in inquiry methods. The purpose of this study was to follow the learning trajectory of a preservice teacher in developing her understanding of inquiry as a pedagogical method. The investigation used the naturalistic approach of qualitative research. The research question driving this study was: What mitigating factors, if any, mediate how a preservice teacher re-shapes her understanding about what it means to be a teacher? Using Vygotsky's (1986) socio-cultural theory of learning as the theoretical framework, what the authors found were several components critical to the learning process: (1) Cultural artifacts play a role in mediating learning; these artifacts include commercially produced inquiry materials and children's positive reactions while engaging in scientific inquiry; (2) analysis of and reflection on these cultural artifacts contribute to making sense of what it means do inquiry; and (3) synthesis of meaningful relationships among the various artifacts contributing to transformational thinking, i.e., learning what it means to do inquiry.