The Science Teacher Inquiry Rubric (STIR) is a two-page observation and teacher-reflection tool, most appropriate for supervisors, principals, or other observers of classroom teachers, and possibly for use by classroom teachers themselves, to assess classroom instruction and practices with regard to inquiry-based science. Developed in 2003, the STIR was based on the National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996) for inquiry instruction, which reflect a pedagogical shift from teacher-centered to student-centered instruction. With inquiry as the new focal point, the STIR provides a platform that allows educators to use a standardized assessment of their lessons to help determine if the pedagogical shift is reflected in their classrooms.
Although slightly outdated given more recent pedogogical shifts in science education, this simple and easy-to-use tool is designed to help teachers explore, design, and reflect upon their science instruction practices in relation to student-centered, inquiry-based instruction. The tool was developed using well-accepted and highly-valued research and validated using the Delphi technique. Although the STIR was originally designed for self-assessment, it was shown to be most effective when used by outside observers rather than by classroom teachers themselves. The simple, standardized checklist allows observers to rank a given lesson on a continuum for five key aspects to help determine the level of student-centered, inquiry-based instruction given in any classroom.