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2 Inquiry in the National Science Education Standards When educators see or hear the used in a vacuum. Inquiry is inti- word “inquir y,” many think of a mately connected to scientific ques- particular way of teaching and tions — students must inquire using learning science. Although this is what they already know and the one important application for the inquiry process must add to their word, inquir y in the Standards is far knowledge. The geologist investigat- more fundamental. It encompasses ing the cause of the dead cedar forests not only an ability to engage in along the Pacific Coast used his inquir y but an understanding of scientific knowledge and inquiry inquir y and of how inquir y results in abilities to develop an explanation for scientific knowledge. the phenomenon. Mrs. Graham’s fifth Because of the importance of grade students used their observa- inquiry, the content standards describ- tions and the information they gath- ing what all students need to know ered about plants to recognize the and be able to do include standards on factors affecting the growth of trees in science as inquiry. These inquiry their schoolyard and to solve the standards specify the abilities students “three-tree problem.” For both scien- need in order to inquire and the tist and students, inquiry and subject knowledge that will help them under- matter were integral to the activity. stand inquiry as the way that knowl- Their scientific knowledge deepened edge is produced. In this way, the as they developed new understandings Standards seek to build student through observing and manipulating understanding of how we know what conditions in the natural world. we know and what evidence supports What is inquiry in education? The what we know. Standards note: The abilities and understanding of Inquiry is a multifaceted activity inquiry are neither developed nor that involves making observations; 13 I N Q U I R Y I N T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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posing questions; examining books of inquiry in context. It then gives the and other sources of information to actual content standards on Science as see what is already known; plan- Inquiry: what should students know ning investigations; reviewing what and be able to do? A description of a is already known in light of experi- set of elements or features essential to mental evidence; using tools to inquiry-oriented teaching and learning gather, analyze, and interpret data; sets the stage for a discussion of proposing answers, explanations, instructional models that can help and predictions; and communicat- teachers structure activities to foster ing the results. Inquiry requires student inquiry. Finally, several myths identification of assumptions, use that misrepresent inquiry in school of critical and logical thinking, and science programs are described and consideration of alternative debunked. explanations. (p. 23) Developing the ability to under- INQUIRY IN SCHOOL SCIENCE: stand and engage in this kind of HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES activity requires direct experience and continued practice with the processes Inquiry has had a role in school of inquiry. Students do not come to science programs for less than a understand inquiry simply by learning century (Bybee and DeBoer, 1993; words such as “hypothesis” and DeBoer, 1991). Before 1900, most “inference” or by memorizing proce- educators viewed science primarily as dures such as “the steps of the scien- a body of knowledge that students tific method.” They must experience were to learn through direct instruc- inquiry directly to gain a deep under- tion. One criticism of this perspective standing of its characteristics. came in 1909, when John Dewey, in an Yet experience in itself is not address to the American Association sufficient. Experience and under- for the Advancement of Science, standing must go together. Teachers contended that science teaching gave need to introduce students to the too much emphasis to the accumula- fundamental elements of inquiry. tion of information and not enough to They must also assist students to science as a way of thinking and an reflect on the characteristics of the attitude of mind. Science is more than processes in which they are engaged. a body of knowledge to be learned, This chapter addresses the several Dewey said; there is a process or perspectives on inquiry included in method to learn as well (Dewey, the National Science Education 1910). Standards. It first provides some By the 1950s and 1960s, the historical background to place the role rationale for inquiry as an approach to 14 I N Q U I R Y A N D T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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Science teaching and learning should reflect this perspective on science, Schwab said. The implications of Schwab’s ideas were, for their time, profound. His view suggested that teachers should present science as inquiry and that students should use inquiry to learn science subject matter. To achieve these changes, Schwab (1960) recom- mended that science teachers look first to the laboratory and use these experiences to lead rather than follow the classroom phase of School classroom 1906 science teaching. That is, students should work in the laboratory before teaching science was becoming being introduced to the formal expla- increasingly evident. If students were nation of scientific concepts and to learn the methods of science, then principles. Evidence should build to how better to learn than through explanations and the refinement of active engagement in the process of explanations. inquiry itself? The educator Joseph Schwab also suggested that science Schwab (1960, 1966) was an influential teachers consider three possible voice in establishing this view of approaches in their laboratories. First, science education. Schwab argued laboratory manuals or textbook that science should be viewed as materials could be used to pose conceptual structures that were questions and describe methods to revised as the result of new evidence. investigate the questions, thus allow- For example, the geologist described ing students to discover relationships in the previous chapter followed this they do not already know. Second, approach in developing an explanation instructional materials could be used for the widespread death of trees. to pose questions, but the methods 15 I N Q U I R Y I N T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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and conclusions reached by the scien- tists. Where possible, students read about alternative explana- tions, different and perhaps conflicting experiments, debates about assumptions underlying the research and the use of evidence, and other issues of scientific inquiry. Through this approach, students build an understanding of what constitutes scientific knowledge and how scientific knowl- School classroom 1950 edge is produced. The work of Schwab, Dewey, and others, including Bruner and Piaget in and answers could be left open for the 1950s and 1960s, influenced the students to determine on their own. nature of curriculum materials devel- Third, in the most open approach, oped in those decades and into the students could confront phenomena early 1970s. Russia’s launch of the without textbook- or laboratory-based Sputnik satellite in 1957 further questions. Students could ask ques- spurred the development of these tions, gather evidence, and propose materials, many of which were sup- scientific explanations based on their ported by the National Science Foun- own investigations. dation and other federal agencies and Schwab proposed an additional private foundations. Underlying many approach, which he referred to as an of these instructional materials was “enquiry into enquiry.” (Schwab the commitment to involve students in chose to use this variation of the doing rather than being told or only spelling of the word.) In this ap- reading about science. This reform proach, teachers provide students with placed as much, if not more, emphasis readings and reports about scientific on learning the processes of science research. They discuss the details of as on mastering the subject matter of the research: the problems, data, role science alone. Teaching models were of technology, interpretations of data, 16 I N Q U I R Y A N D T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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thinking about major issues in science education. Furthermore, and of special significance to this volume, the changes of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s widely disseminated the idea of helping students to develop the skills of inquiry and an understanding of science as inquiry. INQUIRY IN THE NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS The developers of the National Science Education Standards (National Research Council, 1996) had this Space flight July 19, 1946 historical perspective on which to base their work. Studies of teaching and learning in science classrooms had led to two observations. First, most based on theories of learning that teachers were still using traditional, emphasized the central role of stu- didactic methods (Stake and Easley, dents’ own ideas and concrete experi- 1978; Harms and Yager, 1981; Weiss, ences in creating new and deepened 1987). Examination of science class- understandings of scientific concepts. rooms revealed that many students Throughout the country, use, or at were mastering disconnected facts in least awareness, of these new curricu- lieu of broader understandings, critical lum materials prompted educators to reasoning, and problem-solving skills. provide students with more laboratory Some teachers, however, were using and other “hands-on” experiences, the new curriculum materials, such as more opportunities to pursue their those from the Biological Sciences own questions, and more focus on Curriculum Study (BSCS), Science understanding larger scientific con- Curriculum Improvement Study cepts rather than disconnected facts. (SCIS), Elementary Science Study Although the effective use of these (ESS), Intermediate Science Curricu- new materials was not as widespread lum Study (ISCS), and Physical as anticipated (Weiss, 1978; Harms Sciences Study Committee (PSSC). and Kahl, 1980; Harms and Yager, Their students were spending large 1981), this new view of school science amounts of time in inquiry-based did prompt more study and careful 17 I N Q U I R Y I N T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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Table 2-1. Content Standard for activities. They were making observa- Science as Inquiry tions, manipulating materials, and conducting laboratory investigations. As a result of activities in grades K-12, all students As a result, they were developing should develop cognitive abilities, such as critical thinking and reasoning, as well as I abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry. I understandings about scientific inquiry. learning science content (Bredderman, 1982; Shymansky et al., 1983). Those developing national stan- dards were committed to including Abilities Necessary to Do inquiry as both science content and as Scientific Inquiry a way to learn science. Therefore, rather than simply extolling the Table 2-2 presents the key abilities virtues of “hands-on” or “laboratory- from the inquiry standards. These based” teaching as the way to teach “cognitive abilities” go beyond what “science content and process,” the have been termed science “process” writers of the Standards treated skills, such as observation, inference, inquiry as both a learning goal and as and experimentation (Millar and a teaching method. The concept of Driver, 1987). Inquiry abilities require inquiry thus appears in several differ- students to mesh these processes with ent places in the Standards. scientific knowledge as they use scientific reasoning and critical thinking to develop their understand- INQUIRY IN THE CONTENT ing of science. STANDARDS The basis for moving away from the The content standards for Science traditional process approach is to as Inquiry include both abilities and encourage students to participate in understandings of inquiry (Tables 2-1, the evaluation of scientific knowledge. 2-2 and 2-3). The general standards At each of the steps involved in for inquiry (Table 2-1) are the same inquiry, students and teachers ought for all three grade spans (K-4, 5-8, 9- to ask “what counts?” What data do 12). The more detailed fundamental we keep? What data do we discard? abilities of inquiry and fundamental What patterns exist in the data? Are understandings about inquiry increase these patterns appropriate for this in complexity from kindergarten inquiry? What explanations account through grade 12, reflecting the for the patterns? Is one explanation cognitive development of students better than another? (Tables 2-2 and 2-3). In justifying their decisions, stu- 18 I N Q U I R Y A N D T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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Table 2-2. Content Standard for Science as Inquiry: Fundamental Abilities Necessary to Do Scientific Inquiry Grades K-4 I Ask a question about objects, organisms, and events in the environment. I Plan and conduct a simple investigation. I Employ simple equipment and tools to gather data and extend the senses. I Use data to construct a reasonable explanation. I Communicate investigations and explanations. Grades 5-8 I Identify questions that can be answered through scientific investigations. I Design and conduct a scientific investigation. I Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data. I Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence. I Think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence and explanations. I Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and predictions. I Communicate scientific procedures and explanations. I Use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry. Grades 9-12 I Identify questions and concepts that guide scientific investigations. I Design and conduct scientific investigations. I Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications. I Formulate and revise scientific explanations and models using logic and evidence. I Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and models. I Communicate and defend a scientific argument. dents ought to draw on evidence and but become more complex as the analytical tools to derive a scientific grade level increases. For example, K- claim. In turn, students should be 4 students “use data to construct a able to assess both the strengths and reasonable explanation,” while 5-8 weaknesses of their claims. The students “recognize and analyze development and evolution of knowl- alternative explanations and proce- edge claims, and reflection upon those dures,” and 9-12 students analyze claims, underlie the inquiry abilities “alternative models” as well. The presented in Table 2-2. abilities are designed to be develop- Note that the abilities from one mentally appropriate to the grade level grade level to the next are very similar span. 19 I N Q U I R Y I N T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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Table 2-3. Content Standard for Science as Inquiry: Fundamental Understandings About Scientific Inquiry Grades K-4 I Scientific investigations involve asking and answering a question and comparing the answer with what scientists already know about the world. I Scientists use different kinds of investigations depending on the questions they are trying to answer. I Simple instruments, such as magnifiers, thermometers, and rulers, provide more information than scientists obtain using only their senses. I Scientists develop explanations using observations (evidence) and what they already know about the world (scientific knowledge). I Scientists make the results of their investigations public; they describe the investigations in ways that enable others to repeat the investigations. I Scientists review and ask questions about the results of other scientists’ work. Grades 5-8 I Different kinds of questions suggest different kinds of scientific investigations. I Current scientific knowledge and understanding guide scientific investigations. I Mathematics is important in all aspects of scientific inquiry. I Technology used to gather data enhances accuracy and allows scientists to analyze and quantify results of investigations. I Scientific explanations emphasize evidence, have logically consistent arguments, and use scientific principles, models, and theories. I Science advances through legitimate skepticism. I Scientific investigations sometimes result in new ideas and phenomena for study, generate new methods or procedures for an investigation, or develop new technologies to improve the collection of data. Grades 9-12 I Scientists usually inquire about how physical, living, or designed systems function. I Scientists conduct investigations for a wide variety of reasons. I Scientists rely on technology to enhance the gathering and manipulation of data. I Mathematics is essential in scientific inquiry. I Scientific explanations must adhere to criteria such as: a proposed explanation must be logically consistent; it must abide by the rules of evidence; it must be open to questions an possible modification; and it must be based on historical and current scientific knowledge. I Results of scientific inquiry — new knowledge and methods — emerge from different types of investigations and public communication among scientists. 20 I N Q U I R Y A N D T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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Appendix A-1, which is taken dents in grades 9-12 understand that directly from the Standards, provides scientific explanations must abide by more elaboration for these abilities for the rules of evidence, be open to each grade span. possible modifications, and satisfy other criteria. Appendix A-2, taken directly from Understandings About Scientific the Standards, provides more elabora- Inquiry tion for these understandings for each Table 2-3 presents the fundamental grade span. understandings about the nature of scientific inquiry from the Standards. LEARNING THROUGH INQUIRY Although in some cases these “under- AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR standings” appear parallel to the TEACHING “abilities” displayed in Table 2-2, they actually represent much more. Under- Having defined inquiry in part as a standings of scientific inquiry repre- set of student learning outcomes, the sent how and why scientific knowl- next question becomes: What is edge changes in response to new teaching through inquiry, and when evidence, logical analysis, and modi- and how should it be done? fied explanations debated within a The science teaching standards community of scientists. The work of provide a comprehensive view of the geologist described in Chapter 1, science teaching (Table 2-4). These for example, was guided by his initial standards apply to the many teaching question and the evidence-to-explana- strategies, including inquiry, that tion nature of scientific inquiry. make up an effective teacher’s reper- As with the abilities of inquiry, the toire. Although the teaching stan- understandings of inquiry are very dards refer to inquiry, they are also similar from one grade to the next but clear that “inquiry is not the only increase in complexity. For example, strategy for teaching science” (p. 23). K-4 students understand that “scien- Nevertheless, inquiry is a central part tists develop explanations using of the teaching standards. The observations (evidence) along with standards say, for example, that what they already know about the teachers of science “plan an ‘inquiry- world (scientific knowledge),” while based’ science program,” “focus and students in grades 5-8 know that support inquiries,” and “encourage “scientific explanations emphasize and model the skills of scientific evidence, have logically consistent inquiry.” arguments, and use scientific prin- Because the teaching standards are ciples, models, and theories.” Stu- so broad, it is helpful for our purposes 21 I N Q U I R Y I N T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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Table 2-4. Science Teaching Standards TEACHING STANDARD A: Teachers of science plan an inquiry-based science program for their students. In doing this, teachers I Develop a framework of yearlong and short-term goals for students. I Select science content and adapt and design curricula to meet the interests, knowledge, understanding, abilities, and experiences of students. I Select teaching and assessment strategies that support the development of student under- standing and nurture a community of science learners. I Work together as colleagues within and across disciplines and grade levels. TEACHING STANDARD B: Teachers of science guide and facilitate learning. In doing this, teachers I Focus and support inquiries while interacting with students. I Orchestrate discourse among students about scientific ideas. I Challenge students to accept and share responsibility for their own learning. I Recognize and respond to student diversity and encourage all students to participate fully in science learning. I Encourage and model the skills of scientific inquiry, as well as the curiosity, openness to new ideas and data, and skepticism that characterize science. TEACHING STANDARD C: Teachers of science engage in ongoing assessment of their teaching and of student learning. In doing this, teachers I Use multiple methods and systematically gather data about student understanding and ability. I Analyze assessment data to guide teaching. I Guide students in self-assessment. I Use student data, observations of teaching, and interactions with colleagues to reflect on and improve teaching practice. I Use student data, observations of teaching, and interactions with colleagues to report student achievement and opportunities to learn to students, teachers, parents, policymakers, and the general public. 22 I N Q U I R Y A N D T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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means building new ideas upon their be consistent with currently accepted current understandings. In both scientific knowledge. cases, the result is proposed new 5. Learners communicate and justify knowledge. For example, students their proposed explanations. Scientists may use observational and other communicate their explanations in evidence to propose an explanation for such a way that their results can be the phases of the moon; for why plants reproduced. This requires clear die under certain conditions and articulation of the question, proce- thrive in others; and for the relation- dures, evidence, proposed explana- ship of diet to health. tion, and review of alternative explana- 4. Learners evaluate their explana- tions. It provides for further skeptical review and the opportunity for other tions in light of alternative explana- scientists to use the explanation in tions, particularly those reflecting scientific understanding. Evaluation, work on new questions. and possible elimination or revision of Having students share their expla- explanations, is one feature that nations provides others the opportu- distinguishes scientific from other nity to ask questions, examine evi- forms of inquiry and subsequent dence, identify faulty reasoning, point explanations. One can ask questions out statements that go beyond the such as: Does the evidence support evidence, and suggest alternative the proposed explanation? Does the explanations for the same observa- explanation adequately answer the tions. Sharing explanations can bring questions? Are there any apparent into question or fortify the connec- biases or flaws in the reasoning tions students have made among the connecting evidence and explanation? evidence, existing scientific knowl- Can other reasonable explanations be edge, and their proposed explanations. derived from the evidence? As a result, students can resolve Alternative explanations may be contradictions and solidify an empiri- reviewed as students engage in cally based argument. dialogues, compare results, or check their results with those proposed by Taken as a whole, these essential the teacher or instructional materials. features introduce students to many An essential component of this charac- important aspects of science while teristic is ensuring that students make helping them develop a clearer and the connection between their results deeper knowledge of some particular and scientific knowledge appropriate science concepts and processes. The to their level of development. That is, path from formulating scientific student explanations should ultimately questions, to establishing criteria for evidence, to proposing, evaluating, 27 I N Q U I R Y I N T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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and then communicating explanations sharpen the initial question; and in is an important set of experiences for others the students are provided the school science programs. question. Research demonstrates the Teaching approaches and instruc- importance of students’ taking owner- tional materials that make full use of ship of a task, which argues for inquiry include all five of these essen- engaging students in identifying or tial features. Each of these essential sharpening questions for inquiry. But features can vary, of course. These all variations appropriate for the variations might include the amount of particular learning goal are accept- structure a teacher builds into an able, as long as the learning experi- activity or the extent to which students ence centers on scientifically oriented initiate and design an investigation. questions that engage students’ For example, every inquiry engages thinking. students in scientifically oriented Sometimes inquiries are labeled as questions. However, in some inquiries either “full” or “partial.” These labels students pose the initial question; in refer to the proportion of a sequence others students choose alternatives or of learning experiences that is inquiry- based. For example, when a teacher or textbook does not engage students with a question but begins by assign- ing an experiment, an essential element of inquiry is missing and the inquiry is partial. Likewise, an inquiry is partial if a teacher chooses to demonstrate how something works rather than have students explore it and develop their own questions or explanations. If all five of the essential elements of classroom inquiry are present, the inquiry is said to be full. Inquiry-based teaching can also vary in the amount of detailed guid- ance that the teacher provides. Table 2-6 describes variations in the amount of structure, guidance, and coaching the teacher provides for students engaged in inquiry, broken out for each of the five essential features. It could be said that most open form of 28 I N Q U I R Y A N D T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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inquiry-based teaching and learning more structured type of teaching occurs when students’ experiences are develops students’ abilities to inquire. described by the left-hand column in It helps them learn how to determine Table 2-6. However, students rarely what counts. The degree to which have the abilities to begin here. They teachers structure what students do is first have to learn to ask and evaluate sometimes referred to as “guided” questions that can be investigated, versus “open” inquiry. (Note that this what the difference is between evi- distinction has roots in the history dence and opinion, how to develop a recounted earlier in the chapter as defensible explanation, and so on. A Schwab’s three approaches to “labora- Table 2-6. Essential Features of Classroom Inquiry and Their Variations Essential Feature Variations 1. Learner engages in Learner poses a question Learner selects among Learner sharpens or Learner engages in scientifically oriented questions, poses clarifies question question provided by questions new questions provided by teacher, teacher, materials, or materials, or other source other source 2. Learner gives priority Learner determines what Learner directed to Learner given data and Learner given data to evidence in constitutes evidence and collect certain data asked to analyze and told how to responding to collects it analyze questions 3. Learner formulate Learner formulates Learner guided in Learner given possible Learner provided with explanations from explanation after process of formulating ways to use evidence to evidence and how to evidence summarizing evidence explanations from formulate explanation use evidence to evidence formulate explanation 4. Learner connects Learner independently Learner directed toward Learner given possible explanations to examines other resources areas and sources of connections scientific knowledge and forms the links to scientific knowledge explanations 5. Learner communicates Learner forms reasonable Learner coached in Learner provided broad Learner given steps and justifies and logical argument to development of guidelines to use sharpen and procedures for explanations communicate explanations communication communication communication More ———------———---------------—Amount of Learner Self-Direction ———------——--—---------------—— Less Less ———------—-----------------— Amount of Direction from Teacher or Material ——---—--------——-----—— More 29 I N Q U I R Y I N T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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tories” which vary in their degree of cognitive development and scientific structure and guidance by teachers or reasoning. Students should have materials.) Table 2-6 illustrates that opportunities to participate in all types inquiry-based learning cannot simply of inquiries in the course of their be characterized as one or the other. science learning. Instead, the more responsibility How does a teacher decide how learners have for posing and respond- much guidance to provide in an ing to questions, designing investiga- inquiry? In making this decision, a tions, and extracting and communicat- key element is the intended learning ing their learning, the more “open” outcomes. Whether the teacher wants the inquiry (that is, the closer to the students to learn a particular science left column in Table 2-6). The more concept, acquire certain inquiry responsibility the teacher takes, abilities, or develop understandings the more guided the inquiry (that is, about scientific inquiry (or some the closer to the right column on combination) influences the nature of Table 2-6). the inquiry. Experiences that vary in “open- Below are examples of learning ness” are needed to develop the experiences designed to incorporate inquiry abilities in Table 2-2. Guided some form of inquiry. (Note the inquiry can best focus learning on the emphasis on series of lessons or development of particular science learning experiences, rather than concepts. More open inquiry will single lessons, illustrating that inquir- afford the best opportunities for ies require time to unfold and for 30 I N Q U I R Y A N D T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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students to learn.) Each example considers not only the learning outcomes and the teaching strategy but the way the teacher will assess whether students have achieved the intended outcome. Assessment is a critical aspect of inquiry because it sharpens and defines the design of learning experiences. When teachers know what they want students to demonstrate, they can better help them learn to do so. As one example, consider a series of lessons in which the learning outcome is for students to strengthen all the fundamental abilities of inquiry. In Chapter 1, when Mrs. Graham was presented with an interesting question from her students, she recognized an opportunity for her students to engage in a learning activity where they could complete a full inquiry originating with their question about the trees and culminating in communication of scientific explanations based on evidence. The inquiry incorporated all evidence and explanation. As a result, five essential features, with student the students not only learned some engagement described by the left science subject matter related to the column in Table 2-6. Through her growth of trees, they also developed assistance and coaching, Mrs. Graham specific inquiry abilities. helped the students learn how to A second example focuses on clarify their questions and identify developing student understandings possible explanations that could be about scientific inquiry. A high school tested by scientific investigations. She biology teacher is planning student helped them learn the importance of learning activities for a unit on biologi- examining alternative explanations cal evolution. Several of the classroom and comparing them with the evi- investigations and discussions focus dence gathered. She helped students on factors leading to adaptation in understand the relationship between organisms. Because of the interesting 31 I N Q U I R Y I N T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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historical development of these and modification in the account of a scientific ideas, the teacher decides to scientific discovery. Based on read- take advantage of the opportunity to ings about past and current investiga- develop students’ understanding of tions of evolution on the Galapagos how scientific inquiry works. The Islands (including Darwin’s On the assessment for this learning outcome Origin of Species and The Beak of the is for students to be able to describe Finch by Jonathan Weiner), students the place of logic, evidence, criticism, discuss and answer the following 32 I N Q U I R Y A N D T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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questions: What led to past and mance assessment for older elemen- current investigation of the finches on tar y students might be to provide the islands? How have investigations them with objects of different densi- differed, and how have they been ties, a scale, and a water-filled flask similar? Have the scientific explana- with volume markings on the side. tions derived from these investigations Students would then be asked to been logically consistent? Based on select objects and, using the scale evidence? Open to skeptical review? and flask, determine their densities. Built on a knowledge base of other Given this assessment, what kinds of experiments? Following the readings inquir y learning experiences would and discussion of the questions, the help students understand density teacher would have student groups well enough to be successful? One prepare oral reports on the topic “The teaching strategy would be a series Role of Inquiry in Science.” of laborator y activities framed by This learning activity does not questions requiring the gathering contain all of the essential features of and use of evidence to develop classroom inquiry, but many features explanations about mass and volume are present. The activity engages relationships. Students would students in scientifically oriented connect their explanations to scien- questions. It promotes discussion of tific explanations provided by the the priority of evidence in developing teacher and their text, so all five scientific explanations. It connects essential features of classroom those explanations to accepted scien- inquir y would be incorporated. tific knowledge. And it requires students to communicate their under- PROVIDING COHERENT standings of scientific inquiry to INQUIRY-BASED INSTRUCTION others. This activity thus could be an — INSTRUCTIONAL MODELS integral part of a sequence of learning opportunities that in total contains all How can the features of inquiry be five essential features of inquiry. combined in a series of coherent As a final example, consider a learning experiences that help stu- series of lessons that seeks to have dents build new understandings over students develop an understanding time? Instructional models offer a of the concept of density. One way particularly useful way for teachers to to determine the best teaching improve their use of inquiry. strategy for this particular outcome Instructional models originated in would be to think about how stu- observations of how people learn. As dents might demonstrate that they early as the turn of the century, understand density. One perfor- Herbart’s (1901) ideas about teaching 33 I N Q U I R Y I N T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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included starting with students’ learning cycle has undergone elabora- interest in the natural world and in tion and modification over time, its interactions with others. The teacher phases and normal sequence are crafted learning experiences that typically represented as exploration, expanded concepts students already invention, and discovery. Exploration knew and explained others they could refers to relatively unstructured not be expected to discover. Students experiences when students gather then applied the concepts to new new information. Invention refers to situations. Later, Dewey (1910) built the formal statement of a new concept upon the idea of reflective experience — often a definition — in which in which students began with a students interpret newly acquired perplexing situation, formulated a information by restructuring their tentative interpretation or hypothesis, prior concepts. Discovery involves tested the hypothesis to arrive at a applying the new concept to a novel solution, and acted upon the solution. situation. Dewey’s prior experience as a science Research on how people learn teacher explains the obvious connec- (discussed in detail in Chapter 6) tion between reflective thinking and suggests a dynamic and interactive scientific inquiry (Bybee, 1997). view of human learning. Students Piaget’s theory of development bring to a learning experience their contributed much to the elaboration of current explanations, attitudes, and instructional models (Piaget, 1975; abilities. Through meaningful interac- Piaget and Inhelder, 1969). In his tions with their environment, with view, learning begins when individuals their teachers, and among themselves, experience disequilibrium: a discrep- they reorganize, redefine, and replace ancy between their ideas and ideas their initial explanations, attitudes, and they encounter in their environments abilities. An instructional model (that is, what they think they know incorporates the features of inquiry and what they observe or experience). into a sequence of experiences de- To bring their understanding back signed to challenge students’ current into equilibrium, they must adapt or conceptions and provide time and change their cognitive structure opportunities for reconstruction, or through interaction with the learning, to occur (Bybee, 1997). environment. A number of different instructional Piaget’s work was the basis for the models have been developed that can learning cycle, an instructional model, help teachers organize and sequence proposed by Atkin and Karplus (1962) inquiry-oriented learning experiences and used in the SCIS elementary for their students. All can incorporate science curriculum. Although the the essential features of inquiry. They 34 I N Q U I R Y A N D T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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Table 2-7. Common Components Shared by Instructional Models ✐ Phase 1: Students engage with a scientific question, event, or phenomenon. This connects with what they already know, creates dissonance with their own ideas, and/or motivates them to learn more. ✐ Phase 2: Students explore ideas though hands-on experiences, formulate and test hypotheses, solve problems, and create explanations for what they observe. ✐ Phase 3: Students analyze and interpret data, synthesize their ideas, build models, and clarify concepts and explanations with teachers and other sources of scientific knowledge. ✐ Phase 4: Students extend their new understanding and abilities and apply what they have learned to new situations. ✐ Phase 5: Students, with their teachers, review and assess what they have learned and how they have learned it. seek to engage students in important prescriptive devices — rather than as scientific questions, give students general guides for designing instruc- opportunities to explore and create tion that help learning to unfold their own explanations, provide through inquiry, which must always scientific explanations and help be adapted to the needs of particular students connect these to their own learners, the specific learning goals, ideas, and create opportunities for and the context for learning. students to extend, apply, and evaluate what they have learned. Common SOME MYTHS ABOUT components or phases that are shared INQUIRY-BASED by instructional models are shown in LEARNING AND TEACHING Table 2-7. Instructional models have helped teachers and those who support them A number of myths about inquiry- — in particular, curriculum developers based learning and teaching have at — to design instruction in ways that times been wrongly attributed to the attend to how learning occurs and National Science Education Standards. afford students opportunities to These myths threaten to inhibit engage in scientific inquiry. The progress in science education reform primary disadvantage of instructional either by characterizing inquiry as too models applies to models in general: difficult to achieve or by neglecting by definition, they simplify the world. the essential features of inquiry-based Teachers and others can be misled learning. Listed below are responses into thinking of them as lockstep, to five of these mistaken beliefs. 35 I N Q U I R Y I N T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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engaged in rich inquiry, nor that they Myth 1: All science subject matter are learning as intended. A skilled should be taught through inquiry. Teaching science effectively requires teacher remains the key to effective a variety of approaches and strategies. instruction. He or she must pay It is not possible in practice to teach all careful attention to whether and how science subject matter through the materials incorporate the five inquiry, nor is it desirable to do so. essential features of inquiry. Using Teaching all of science using only one these five features to review materials method would be ineffective, and it as well as to assess classroom practice would probably become boring for should enhance the kinds and depth of students. learning. Myth 2: True inquiry occurs only Myth 4: Student engagement in when students generate and pursue hands-on activities guarantees that their own questions. For students to inquiry teaching and learning are develop the ability to ask questions, occurring. Although participation by they must “practice” asking questions. students in activities is desirable, it is But if the desired outcome is learning not sufficient to guarantee their science subject matter, the source of mental engagement in any of the the question is less important that the essential features of inquiry. nature of the question itself. It is important to note, however, that in Myth 5: Inquiry can be taught today’s science classrooms students without attention to subject matter. rarely have opportunities to ask and Some of the rhetoric of the 1960s was pursue their own questions. Students used to promote the idea that learning will need some of these opportunities science processes should be the only to develop advanced inquiry abilities meaningful outcome of science and to understand how scientific education. Today, there are educators knowledge is pursued. who still maintain that if students learn the processes of science, they can learn any content they need by Myth 3: Inquiry teaching occurs applying these processes. But as easily through use of hands-on or kit- based instructional materials. These stated at the beginning of this chapter, materials can increase the probability student understanding of inquiry does that students’ thinking will be focused not, and cannot, develop in isolation on the right things and learning will from science subject matter. Rather, occur in the right sequence. However, students start from what they know the use of even the best materials does and inquire into things they do not not guarantee that students are know. If, in some instances, a 36 I N Q U I R Y A N D T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S

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teacher’s desired primary outcome is based teaching that undergird the that students learn to conduct an Standards. Chapter 3 will present a inquiry, science subject matter serves series of classroom vignettes that as a means to that end. Scientific illustrate how elementary, middle, and knowledge remains important. The high school teachers design different abilities and understandings outlined kinds of inquiries to achieve diff¡erent in the Standards extend beyond the learning outcomes. Chapter 4 will processes of science to engage stu- look at assessment: within the context dents in a full complement of thinking of good instruction, how can the and learning science. achievement of different learning outcomes best be assessed? Subse- quent chapters then turn to how CONCLUSION teachers can be prepared and sup- This chapter has provided the ported to use these strategies in their definitions of inquiry and inquiry- classrooms. 37 I N Q U I R Y I N T H E N AT I O N A L S C I E N C E E D U C AT I O N S TA N D A R D S