A pedagogic field laboratory for professional development: Windows on the STEM inquiry classroom

text: STEM Inquiry Class

At https://Mypages.unh.edu/windows-stem-inquiry you can visit a pedagogic field laboratory site. It is a video record of every moment of an entire semester of a college inquiry-based course “Fire and Ice” about the concepts of heat and temperature from the perspectives of biology, chemistry, engineering, history, physics, and physiology.

Like a biological field site, you can view it from different perspectives depending on your purpose and pathway, whether you want to make a quick visit or to follow an in-depth research question. Do you have a colleague who is unfamiliar with what inquiry teaching looks and feels like and has concerns for how students will respond?  Do you have teaching assistants who think they have to keep talking in order for students to learn anything? Would you like video excerpts of live classrooms for novice teachers to critique? You might find it interesting to listen in while students try to make sense of bond energy in relation to gravitational energy or thermal transfer. Perhaps you have a research question that could be pursued by using some aspect of the course record. This website and the underlying repository are a rich resource for teaching activities, professional development, and research. 

The field site video record consists of 28 class sessions in 10-minute increments from four camera perspectives (whole class and student teams). One can also follow different participants to see how students in focus groups respond to an inquiry environment, how graduate teaching residents in interviews report their evolution across the semester, and how the instructor anticipates and debriefs each class. Thus, “Windows on the STEM Inquiry Classroom” pulls back the curtain to reveal design, motivation, and response. In addition, all course materials are accessible:  design process, class agendas, student task instructions, and student work products. This is a real classroom, not an idealized one, with real students and instructors who are trying to provide a rich learning experience. Visitors will not find proscriptive “how to” tutorials. 

The rationale and structure of the “Fire and Ice” course content and pedagogic design have been described.1 A second publication will describe the full resource of the “Windows on the Inquiry Classroom” Project.2 


1. C.F.Bauer, J.Y.K. Chan, “Non-science majors learn about heat, temperature, and thermodynamics using the particulate nature of matter and guided-inquiry instruction”, Amer. J. Phys.  87, 550-557 (2019).

2. C. F. Bauer, J.Y.K. Chan, “Windows on the Inquiry Classroom: A Pedagogic Field Laboratory for Exploring Teaching and Learning of Heat, Temperature, and Energy”, J. College Sci. Teach., accepted 2020.



Publication information
Pick Attribution: 

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1245730.


Publication Date: 
Sunday, October 4, 2020