Teachers' Participation in Study Groups

Analysis of Teachers' Study Group Discussions

Coding Scheme

We developed a coding scheme to analyze teachers’ study group meetings to understand how teachers utilized the meetings to develop their professional practice. Specifically, we were interested in exploring what Talk Science web–based professional development resources teachers discussed during the meetings, and how they engaged with the resources. The coding scheme identified nine Talk Science professional development resources, and consisted of five categories to capture teachers’ engagement with the resources.

The nine professional development resources were:

  • (i) Scientist Cases;
  • (ii) Classroom Cases;
  • (iii) Talking Points and Strategy cases;
  • (iv) Scientist’s Essays;
  • (v) Essays on Children’s Ideas;
  • (vi) Reflection Tool;
  • (vii) Primer;
  • (viii) In Your Classroom Sheet;
  • (ix) Inquiry Project curriculum.

The five categories described various ways in which teachers engaged with the web-based resources:

  • (i) whether teachers talked about their observations and what they liked about a resource;
  • (ii) whether teachers made connections to their own classroom experiences and events, and talked about how these were similar to or different from what was presented in the resource;
  • (iii) whether teachers made plans for incorporating into their own teaching what they had learnt from a resource;
  • (iv) whether teachers explicitly reported transfer of learning in terms of having utilized a resource in their own teaching;
  • (v) and whether teachers showed an analytic stance by reflecting upon, raising questions, or identifying challenges and issues with their own teaching.

Our analysis shows that teachers across the three schools utilized the meetings for various purposes, and their discussions were fairly consistent with the objective of these meetings and the accompanying study guide. Teachers utilized study group time to formulate plans and generate ideas for what they would like to do in their classrooms in relation to the professional development resources, and shared their observations of and reactions to what they had noted during individual web–study of the professional development resources. Teachers’ discussions reflected their intention to transfer their learning to their classroom practice, and their careful engagement with the content presented in the resources. Teachers also made several connections to their own classroom context and present practice, debriefing events and experiences from their classroom as they talked about the resources. Teachers’ talk about their own classroom with respect to the various resources reflects their motivation in participating in the Talk Science program.

In the following sections, we present details on the findings from our analysis of teachers’ study group meetings.