BOX 6–3 Impact of Reflective Inquiry on Learning
White and Frederiksen (2000) carried out a controlled study comparing ThinkerTools classes in which students engaged in the reflective-assessment process with matched control classes in which they did not. Each teacher’s classes were evenly divided between the two treatments. In the reflective-assessment classes, the students continually engaged in monitoring and evaluating their own and each other’s research. In the control classes, the students were not given an explicit framework for reflecting on their research; instead, they engaged in alternative activities in which they commented on what they did and did not like about the curriculum. In all other respects, the classes participated in the same ThinkerTools inquiry-based science curriculum. There were no significant differences in students’ initial average standardized test scores (the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills [CTBS] was used as a measure of prior achievement) between the classes assigned (randomly) to the different treatments.
One of the outcome measures was a written inquiry assessment that was given both before and after the ThinkerTools Inquiry Curriculum was administered. Presented below are the gain scores on this assessment for both low- and high-achieving students and for students in the reflective-assessment and control classes. Note first that students in the reflective-assessment classes gained more on this inquiry