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Inquiry is NOT the Best Way to Teach Science. Linda Heidenrich Sojin Kim. Arguments. National & California Science Content Standards Reality of the Classroom Emotional & Cognitive Development of Adolescents. Inquiry Student-Centered and Student-Constructed.

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Inquiry is NOT the Best Way to Teach Science

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Inquiry is not the best way to teach science

Inquiry is NOT the Best Way to Teach Science

Linda Heidenrich

Sojin Kim



National & California Science Content Standards

Reality of the Classroom

Emotional & Cognitive Development of Adolescents

Inquiry student centered and student constructed

InquiryStudent-Centered and Student-Constructed

Students select a question to explore.

Students design and conduct experiments.

The students propose explanations based on their results.

Students construct the information.

California science content standards and framework

California Science Content Standards and Framework

  • Effective science programs reflect a balanced, comprehensive approach that includes the teaching of investigation and experimentation skills along with direct instruction and reading.

  • Effective science programs use multiple instructional strategies and provide students with multiple opportunities to master the content standards.

National science education science as inquiry standards

National Science Education Science as Inquiry Standards

Engaging students in inquiry helps students develop

  • Understanding of scientific concepts.

  • An appreciation of "how we know" what we know in science.

  • Understanding of the nature of science.

  • Skills necessary to become independent inquirers about the natural world.

  • The dispositions to use the skills, abilities, and attitudes associated with science.

Reality of the classroom

Reality of the Classroom

  • Inadequate Science Teacher Training

  • Lack of Time and Resources

  • Standards-Driven Student Assessment

  • Varying Prior Knowledge of the Students

  • Misconception and Reconstruction

  • Student Motivation

Emotional cognitive development of adolescents

Emotional & Cognitive Development of Adolescents

Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development

  • Sensory Motor (0 - 24 months)

  • Preoperational (2-7 years)

  • Concrete Operations (7-11 years)

  • Formal Operations (11-15 years)

Inquiry standards taught by inquiry methods

Inquiry Standards taught by inquiry methods?

  • Study by Dr. Klahr of Carnegie Mellon University

    • 77% of students with direct instruction were better able to discern an effective and scientifically sound science fair project.

    • ONLY 23% of inquiry students accomplished the task.

Inadequate teacher training

Inadequate Teacher Training

  • Sage on the stage vs. guide on the side

  • ASIST (Alternative Support for Induction Science Teachers)

    • Late 1990’s

    • Effort to incorporate inquiry learning

    • Only 4/14 teachers were successful

Lack of time resources

Lack of time/resources

  • Who teaches science in a portable?

  • Who travels and cannot set up labs?

  • Budget for year: $230

  • OUHSD pacing plan: 4 weeks on Cell Processes: photosynthesis, cell respiration, active transport, diffusion, osmosis-Could you do it?

Standards driven assessment

Standards-Driven Assessment

  • Teach to the test-it’s our reality!!!

    • Assessments are multiple choice not free response.

    • Direct instruction better prepares students for multiple choice questions.

    • In direct instruction, we can provide the examples and explanations students need to pass the test.

Misconceptions and how to fix

Misconceptions and how to fix

  • Literary Review by Guzzetti (2000)

    • Teacher-guided discussion

    • Teacher-selected text

    • REQUIRES a teacher as an active participant!

Student motivation

Student Motivation

  • Student-directed inquiry requires students who are motivated

  • How People Learn: Chapter 3-problem solving occurs in students with an intrinsic desire to learn

    • Frustration deters from this motivation

Development of adolescents

Development of Adolescents

  • Concrete Operational moving toward formal operational

    • Concrete: develop capacity for logic and reasoning only in familiar situations

    • Formal: can begin to deal with hypothetical situations and reason logically

      • Source: Educational Psychology, Robert A. Slavin



  • Inquiry is NOT the best way to teach science because…

    • CA/National Standards require direct instruction-even for inquiry standards

    • Standards-based assessment

    • Teachers not prepared to teach effectively

    • Lack of time/resources

    • Adds to student misconceptions

    • Student Motivation/Development

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