The purpose of this study was to examine instructional experiences of students with visual impairment in an guided inquiry-based science classroom. Drawing from social constructive perspectives about teaching and learning, I focused on the initial attempts of students to participate fully in an inquiry-based astronomy unit. The astronomy unit incorporated features of project-based science inquiry and aligned with national standards. This study described the opportunities provided to and challenges faced by students with visual impairment as they participated in the guided inquiry-based learning environment. Additionally, discursive practices of students including student-generated questions, student discussions, and students' science notebook writing were examined. Also, students' alternative conceptions about scientific phenomena and changes in students' thinking during the course of instruction, if any, were described. Methods of data collection included classroom observations, video records, pre- and post-curriculum assessments, attitudes toward science measurement, student interviews, and student artifacts (i.e., science notebook entries, student-constructed models). Findings showed that student learning was enhanced when the instructor-researcher guided students in accomplishing inquiry tasks and in making sense of their inquiry experiences. Additionally, the use of appropriate reflective prompts assisted students with visual impairment to fully participate in the writing tasks of the inquiry-based learning environment. Results suggested that the quantity and quality of student-generated questions increased with extended inquiry instruction. Also, students used questions to not only establish verbal communication, but to elaborate on their own thinking and expand or explain the thinking of others. Findings suggested also that students with visual impairment have similar alternative frameworks about scientific phenomena (i.e., causes of lunar phases, reason for the seasons) as do their peers with sight. This study contributes to the literature about inquiry-based instructional strategies for all students and initiates the conversation about best practice for science instruction with students with visual impairment.
|School||THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA|
|Subjects||Special education; Science education|
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