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Inquiry Science Learning: Perspectives & Practices 4 - Student-Centered Inquiry

In this course, teachers will develop the skills essential to move from a top-down content delivery model of science instruction to one in which the teacher is a guide, enabling students to create shared meaning of important science concepts.


Course at a Glance

About the Course

A revolution is underway in science classrooms. The demands of the new workplace and the ready access to information afforded by new technologies have radically changed the way we define a scientifically literate society. 

More than ever teachers need professional development that provides them with the resources they need and empowers them to take the action required to build classrooms where the next generation of scientifically literate students will flourish. 

Inquiry Science Learning: Perspectives and Practices consists of four courses, each designed to address a different strand in the development of skills teachers need to meet the demands of their career, including the following.

  1. Science Leadership
  2. Techniques for Success
  3. Science Content
  4. Student-Centered Inquiry

In this fourth course we will focus on helping teachers change the nature of their classrooms to promote student engagement and proficiency in inquiry science 

Course Syllabus

Week 1: Self-Assessment - Initial:
Participants will be provided with a rubric that will help them assess where they are in the continuum from a teacher-centered to a student-centered classroom. After watching a teacher use the rubric, with guidance from a mentor, participants will be asked to evaluate themselves and reflect the results. 

Week 2: Student-Centered Inquiry: On Paper:
Participants will learn how to take a current lesson that may be more teacher-centered, and to alter it component-by-component, to create a more student-centered lesson. 

Week 3: Student-Centered Inquiry: On Paper:
Participants will get to watch a coach in action helping a teacher look for ways to make their teaching more student-centered and to identify obstacles and solutions. 

Week 4: Self-Assessment - Final:
In the last week of the course, participants will reflect on a change they tried to make in their classroom. Through peer review all participants will have the opportunity to evaluate these transformations and to receive feedback that will encourage further growth.

Recommended Background

No previous coursework is recommended, but the course will be most helpful to teachers with 3 or more years of teaching experience who are willing to directly apply experiences in their schools. While the course was designed with the K-8 teacher in mind, the topics covered are appropriate for all teachers, including those teaching in high school.

Suggested Readings

The suggested readings will be provided at a later date.

Course Format

Students will explore text, video and multimedia presentations and reflect (in writing and orally), with instructors and fellow students to help process the learning and to receive feedback. The course will include the submission of products that demonstrate mastery.


Who should take this course?
This course will be helpful to any teacher of science in a school setting. While the ideal participant would most likely be a teacher in grade 3-8, the content will be relevant to teachers in lower or higher grades who are ready to take on a leadership in science or for those who are already called up to take such a role.

Are CPE hours awarded? What about a certificate?
Upon successful completion of the course and achievement of an identity-verified certificate (available exclusively by joining Signature Track), participants will be given a certificate indicating the awarding of sixteen (16) hours of CPE credit. The Rice Center for Digital Learning and Scholarship is certified within the state of Texas to award CPE credit. Participants will have to contact their local school district to verify whether or not these will be accepted locally. 

Participants who complete all four courses in the Inquiry Science Learning series, and earn a Verified Certificate (available exclusively by joining Signature Track) for each course, may contact the Rice Center for Digital Learning and Scholarship to request a certificate related to the overall program.

What else do I get if I take this course?
This course was designed and will be taught by instructors with a combined total of more than fifty years of classroom experience. Besides collaborating with these instructors and other participants from around the world, you will get access to a variety of invaluable resources, including K-12 online science curriculum at