When is Inquiry Problem Solving and When is Problem Solving Inquiry? Panelists: Marcia Fetters, Western Michigan University, Caroline Beller, University of Arkansas, Paul Hickman, Northeastern University
Questions to ponder… • Inquiry is …. • Inquiry is Not … • Problem solving is ….. • Problem solving is Not …
Talk to your neighbor! • What are the similarities and differences between these terms? • Offer a definition of each term? • Inquiry • Problem Solving
What prompted the exploration? • PhysTEC 3rd annual meeting: Audience of Physicists; Physics educators, Science educators; and Teachers-in-Residence (mostly high school physics teachers) • Same language used, but clear (for some of us) that different meanings and applications used for key terms such as: Inquiry; problem solving; cooperative learning; evidence; research; concept; laboratory work; etc..
Context and Quandary • Audience energy was around building connections and community so differences in language were not addressed (congeniality/collegiality environment dichotomy). • Was this mismatch real and is it critical to collaborative efforts between education and content specialists or is it just the nature of large collaboratives and does not influence the work and progress of reform?
Context/Historical Perspective If a single word had to be chosen to describe the goals of science education during the 30-year period that began in the late 1950s, it would have to be inquiry (DeBoer, 1991, p. 206).
Methodology • Started collection of personal definitions of problem solving and inquiry from a range of audiences and sources: undergraduate science students, elementary education students, secondary science education students, middle grades science education students, physics faculty, science education faculty, • Lit. Review of common definitions collected.
Our challenge to you… Given the statements around the room -- how would you categorize these statements? • red – problem solving; • green – inquiry; • yellow – neither; • blue – problem solving and inquiry
Statement #1 The process of starting from your own observations to develop an understanding of a concept. The most open [kind of this…] _____ would start out with deciding what concept you wanted to explore. To ask a question: to figure out what observation you need to make to answer the question, to interpret your observations to create models that not only explain what you saw but predicted something else you might see. Inquiry Scientist
Statement #2 _____ is the curiosity of the mind in action. The ability to question... Inquiry MS Education Major
Statement #3 Addressing a situation, occasionally having to determine what the outcome needs to be, but usually with that defined, and determining how to achieve that outcome. This usually involves comparing the situation to previous experiences, identifying similarities and differences. Problem Solving Scientist
Statement #4 Using whatever tools one knows how to use in order to implement a solution to a given hypothesis. Problem Solving MS Education Major
Statement #5 When you look into something. You take time out to examine something or learn about it. Inquiry Elem. Education Major
Statement #6 Exploring some event or idea and trying to understand it. Inquiry Physics Major
Statement #7 _________ as a teaching strategy embodies most of the techniques and learning skills science educators consider important when learning science by investigative methods. Problem Solving Science Educator (Methods Text)
Statement #8 To take a systematic approach to a task. Problem Solving Elem. Education Major
Statement #9 Trying to fix something, or some situation. Problem Solving Biology Major
Statement # 10 Doing hands on things. Getting messy in science. Inquiry Geology Major
Statement #11 In school science, _________ refers to how students attempt to develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas. Through activities, students learn how scientists go about studying the world, communicate with one another, and, through consensus, propose explanations for how the world works. Inquiry Science Educator (Methods Text)
Statement #12 _____ is taking systematic approach to exploring something. Problem Solving Geology Major
From the literature…. • Oxford English Dictionary • Inquiry 1.a The act of seeking, esp.. (not always) for truth, knowledge, or information concerning something; search, research, investigation, examination. • attrib. and Comb., as ….. problem-solver, one who finds solutions to difficult or perplexing questions or situations; hence problem-solving n., the action of finding solutions to such problems;
From NSES • National Science Education Standards -Pg 23 Inquiry is a multifaceted activity that involves making observations; posing questions; examining books and other sources of information to see what is already known; planning investigations; reviewing what is already known in light of experimental evidence; using tools to gather, analyze, and interpret data; proposing answers, explanations, and predictions; and communicating the results. Inquiry requires identification of assumptions, use of critical and logical thinking, and consideration of alternative explanations.
From a Methods Text… Problem solving is also an important strategy for constructing and negotiating meaning. Learning to Teach Science: A model for the 21st Century(J. V. Ebenezer & S. Connor; 1998) pg. 140-141
Methods text.. continued In general, inquiry is finding out about something. It centers around the desire to answer a question or to know more about a situation. Science Instruction in the Middle and Secondary Schools (Chiapetta, E. L. and Koballa, Thomas R.; 2002) pg 91
Documentation of quandary… • Problem solving is often used synonymously with inquiry and science process skill reasoning (Helgeson, 1989, 1994).
Implications in Science Education • Shared language – differences between disciplines in how terminology is used as part of pedagogy and content for: • Arts and Sciences and Education • Pre-service and Faculty • Teachers and K-12 students • Implications for instruction in content courses; education courses and K-12 settings • Reform Efforts • Implications for how language is used in relation to state and/or national testing
Questions to be pondered… • Does the difference in how people use these terms create a real barrier to collaboration or does it provide a platform for conversation that facilitates the collaboration? • If the difference is real and significant what effect does it have on programs and reform efforts that call for collaboration across audiences? • How can or when should discussion about the difference occur to maximize the potential of reform efforts? How do you do this without jeopardizing the partnerships?
Next Steps • Challenge to audience – Would any one like to join us in gathering additional definitions? • What other words/phrases have shared meanings? • Is there a difference between disciplines (i.e. biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, mathematics)? Our sample is currently small and these distinctions cannot be made with current data. • What is the role of past experiences of participants? Prior science courses and experiences…