Exploring Elementary Teachers’ Perceptions and Characterizations of Model-Oriented Issue-Based Teaching

Laura Zangori*, Jaimie Foulk, Troy D. Sadler, Amanda Peel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Engaging learners in modeling practices can promote substantial science learning, and anchoring science teaching in societal issues can promote student motivation to learn and make learning experiences more meaningful. However, elementary teachers have had few prior experiences with either modeling or socioscientific issues (SSI) and so are unfamiliar with how either construct supports student learning. We created the model-oriented issue-based (MOIB) teaching approach to support teachers in building knowledge of both modeling and SSI and considering how they work together to support student learning. Here we explore how 4 third-grade teachers perceived and characterized MOIB teaching in their classrooms. The teachers were a professional learning community with varying levels of teaching experience. All 4 participated in a professional development workshop to learn MOIB and then taught a MOIB ecosystem curriculum in their classrooms. Each teacher was interviewed individually before and after the curriculum enactment and participated in focus group interviews with her professional learning community at the beginning and conclusion of the curriculum enactment. The teachers’ perceptions of SSI were that issue-based instruction was familiar, cross-curricular, and a productive way to contextualize science for their students. They perceived modeling as a way to support equitable learning across their classrooms. Overall, the teachers characterized MOIB teaching as a path to deeper student learning. However, their teaching experience and their own personal passions served to mediate their understanding of and enthusiasm for MOIB. These findings provide important evidence for how elementary teachers perceive and navigate new pedagogical approaches to science teaching.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-577
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Science Teacher Education
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 3 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • in-service teacher
  • modeling
  • socioscientific issue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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