Science teachers’ perception and implementation of inquiry-based reform initiatives in relation to their beliefs and professional identity

2016 IJRSE – Volume 5 Issue 1


Hong, Ji*
Educational Psychology, University of Oklahoma, USA (

Vargas, Penelope
School of Education, Clemson University, USA (


The purpose of this study was to understand how early career science teachers perceive and interpret the calls for inquiry-based instruction (as suggested by National Science Education Standards) in relation to their emerging professional identity and beliefs. Further, this study explored how the school and classroom contexts influenced teachers’ implementation of the reform-based teaching practices. Using semi-structured interviews with twelve early career science teachers, this study revealed that teachers often showed limited understanding about inquiry-based instruction, such as hands-on lab activities, and devoted small amount of time for implementing inquiry teaching. However, interestingly, their beliefs about teaching science were aligned with the assumptions of inquiry-based instruction. The lack of inconsistency between beliefs and practices seem to result from the influence of contextual factors. School and classroom environments that limit teachers’ agency and sense of power lead teachers to experience unpleasant emotions, which may eventually threaten their identity as a teacher. This paper ends with implications for school administrators and policy makers.

Keywords: inquiry-based instruction; science teacher identity; teacher beliefs; teacher development; teacher education



*Corresponding Author