Adopting a Student-Inquiry Stance for Teaching Genetics: A 10-year Autoethnographic Analysis


  • Patrick Wells Memorial University of Newfoundland


While teaching genetics over a 10-year time span, I committed to change my pedagogy to include more student-inquiry. The main agent for this change was an epiphany caused by a difficult, yet enlightening experience with action research. My experience demonstrates that it is difficult to conduct authentic student inquiry in the high school science context and requires a shift of focus from traditional teacher-centered pedagogy to student-centered learning. This paper uses analytical autoethnography methodology (Anderson, 2006) to examine my support of student inquiry and the development of my pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) over a ten-year period. The level of student-inquiry will be characterized using the Chinn and Malhotra (2001) framework for evaluating inquiry tasks. The hexagonal model of pedagogical content knowledge from Park and Oliver (2008) is used as the theoretical framework for my pedagogical content knowledge change over the period of analysis. The ethnographic data examined in this study included documents such as project reports, curriculum documents, lesson plans, and written narratives. Data was examined using the hexagonal model pedagogical content knowledge components and written narratives to provide a temporal description of pedagogical content knowledge change. The findings indicate the transition towards increasing amounts of student-inquiry and changes in my personal pedagogical content knowledge. However, the change was slow and contained some pragmatic compromises and internal tensions.