Inquirers will identify and research issues and questions to develop their knowledge or solutions. The inquiry-based instruction is principally very closely related to the development and practice of thinking skills. Generating information and making meaning of it based on personal or societal experience is referred the language of inquiry pdf as constructivism.
Vygotsky approached constructivism as learning from an experience that is influenced by society and the facilitator. The meaning constructed from an experience can be concluded as an individual or within a group. In the 1960s Joseph Schwab called for inquiry to be divided into four distinct levels. This was later formalized by Marshall Herron in 1971, who developed the Herron Scale to evaluate the amount of inquiry within a particular lab exercise. Since then, there have been a number of revisions proposed and inquiry can take various forms. There is a spectrum of inquiry-based teaching methods available. Inquiry learning involves developing questions, making observations, doing research to find out what information is already recorded, developing methods for experiments, developing instruments for data collection, collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data, outlining possible explanations and creating predictions for future study.
There are many different explanations for inquiry teaching and learning and the various levels of inquiry that can exist within those contexts. The teacher has taught a particular science theme or topic. The teacher then develops questions and a procedure that guides students through an activity where the results are already known. This method is great to reinforce concepts taught and to introduce students into learning to follow procedures, collect and record data correctly and to confirm and deepen understandings. The teacher provides the initial question and an outline of the procedure.
Students are to formulate explanations of their findings through evaluating and analyzing the data that they collect. The teacher provides only the research question for the students. The students are responsible for designing and following their own procedures to test that question and then communicate their results and findings. This type of inquiry is often seen in science fair contexts where students drive their own investigative questions.
Open inquiry activities are only successful if students are motivated by intrinsic interests and if they are equipped with the skills to conduct their own research study. Open learning has no prescribed target or result that people have to achieve. There is an emphasis on the individual manipulating information and creating meaning from a set of given materials or circumstances. In many conventional and structured learning environments, people are told what the outcome is expected to be, and then they are simply expected to ‘confirm’ or show evidence that this is the case. Open learning has many benefits.
It means students do not simply perform experiments in a routine like fashion, but actually think about the results they collect and what they mean. With traditional non-open lessons there is a tendency for students to say that the experiment ‘went wrong’ when they collect results contrary to what they are told to expect. In open learning there are no wrong results, and students have to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the results they collect themselves and decide their value. Wagenschein’s ideas particularly complement both open learning and inquiry-based learning in teaching work. He emphasized that students should not be taught bald facts, but should understand and explain what they are learning.
His most famous example of this was when he asked physics students to tell him what the speed of a falling object was. Nearly all students would produce an equation, but no students could explain what this equation meant. Wagenschien used this example to show the importance of understanding over knowledge. Inquiry learning has been used as a teaching and learning tool for thousands of years, however, the use of inquiry within public education has a much briefer history. It was not until the Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason, during the late 17th and 18th century that the subject of Science was considered a respectable academic body of knowledge. Up until the 1900s the study of science within education had a primary focus on memorizing and organizing facts. Unfortunately, there is still evidence that some students are still receiving this type of science instruction today.
While Dewey was the first to draw attention to this issue, much of the reform within science education followed the lifelong work and efforts of Joseph Schwab. Joseph Schwab was an educator who proposed that science did not need to be a process for identifying stable truths about the world that we live in, but rather science could be a flexible and multi-directional inquiry driven process of thinking and learning. Schwab believed that science in the classroom should more closely reflect the work of practicing scientists. Schwab developed three levels of open inquiry that align with the breakdown of inquiry processes that we see today. Today, we know that students at all levels of education can successfully experience and develop deeper level thinking skills through scientific inquiry. The graduated levels of scientific inquiry outlined by Schwab demonstrate that students need to develop thinking skills and strategies prior to being exposed to higher levels of inquiry. Effectively, these skills need to be scaffolded by the teacher or instructor until students are able to develop questions, methods, and conclusions on their own.
This historical scientific breakthrough caused a great deal of concern around the science and technology education the American students were receiving. National Defense Education Act in order to provide math and science teachers with adequate teaching materials. Students should have the opportunity to develop new knowledge that builds on their prior knowledge and scientific ideas. Students will develop new knowledge by restructuring their previous understandings of scientific concepts and adding new information learned. Learning is influenced by students’ social environment whereby they have an opportunity to learn from each other.
Students will take control of their learning. The extent to which students are able to learn with deep understanding will influence how transferable their new knowledge is to real life contexts. Science naturally lends itself to investigation and collection of data, but it is applicable in other subject areas where people are developing critical thinking and investigation skills. Bain’s idea is to first organize a learning curriculum around central concepts. Next, people studying the curriculum are given a question and primary sources such as eye witness historical accounts, and the task for inquiry is to create an interpretation of history that will answer the central question.
It is held that through the inquiry people will develop skills and factual knowledge that supports their answers to a question. They will form an hypothesis, collect and consider information and revisit their hypothesis as they evaluate their data. Ministry of Education decided to implement a full day kindergarten program that focuses on inquiry and play-based learning, called The Early Learning Kindergarten Program. As of September 2014, all primary schools in Ontario started the program. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model, Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development, Piaget’s child development theory and Dewey’s experiential learning are the heart of the program’s design. As research shows, children learn best through play, whether it is independently or in a group. Three forms of play are noted in the curriculum document, pretend or “pretense” play, socio-dramatic play and constructive play.