Examining Teacher Content Knowledge in the Context of Science Notebooks
Authors: Carole G. Basile, Doris Kimbrough, Sharon Johnson

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Initially, the project intended to use teacher content inventories (TCI) to ascertain the general science and mathematics knowledge of teachers in the project and develop courses based on that data. However, the goal and purpose of the assessments and their relationship to each course has been a controversial and complex endeavor. For project teams in both math and science, assessment has been a veritable quandary due to the myriad of ways of thinking about content, what content to teach, and what content to assess.

As a result, instructional teams for each course strand chose the type of teacher content inventory they would use. Some instructors use general knowledge assessments developed by national centers including the University of Louisville Center for Research in Mathematics and Science Teacher Development (2004) and Horizon Research (unpublished); others have been adapted by instructors to more closely fit their purposes and course subject matter, while still others were developed by the instructors themselves. Validity and reliability on all of these instruments falls into a variety of categories from extensive but not complete to minimal to none at all. Hence, the project now uses a variety of assessments and we use the term "teacher content inventory" loosely without clear definition.

As the project has progressed, we have been searching for a better tool to assess teacher content knowledge among other things to not only inform instructional practice, but really understand the processes through which teachers develop content knowledge, and how they learn, reflect, and apply this new knowledge. In this paper, we will examine the use of science notebooks as an instructional tool under the auspices of two primary research questions: (1) To what extent do instructors utilize science notebooks as an instructional and assessment tool and (2) What are the common characteristics of the science notebooks that provide evidence of teacher learning, specifically content knowledge and skills?