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Enriching students’ intellectual diet through inquiry based learning

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Queensland University of Technology ePrints Archive
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Abstract

Traditionally, Science education has stressed the importance of teaching students to conduct ‘scientific inquiry’, with the main focus being the experimental model of inquiry used by real world scientists. Current educational approaches using constructivist pedagogy recognise the value of inquiry as a method for promoting the development of deep understanding of discipline content. A recent Information Learning Activity undertaken by a Grade Eight Science class was observed to discover how inquiry based learning is implemented in contemporary Science education. By analysing student responses to questionnaires and assessment task outcomes, the author was able to determine the level of inquiry inherent in the activity and how well the model supported student learning and the development of students’ information literacy skills. Although students achieved well overall, some recommendations are offered that may enable teachers to better exploit the learning opportunities provided by inquiry based learning. Planning interventions at key stages of the inquiry process can assist students to learn more effective strategies for dealing with cognitive and affective challenges. Allowing students greater input into the selection of topic or focus of the activity may encourage students to engage more deeply with the learning task. Students are likely to experience greater learning benefit from access to developmentally appropriate resources, increased time to explore topics and multiple opportunities to undertake information searches throughout the learning activity. Finally, increasing the cognitive challenge can enhance both the depth of students’ learning and their information literacy skills.

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