their learning in the future, people need time during their learning to grapple with specific information, explore underlying concepts, and make connections to what they already know. They need tasks that are challenging but not frustrating and social opportunities to see the usefulness of what they are learning and to see its impact on others. Finally, they are more apt to apply what they know to novel situations if they have learned to extract the underlying themes and principles from their learning experiences (Bransford et al., 1999; Bruer, 1993; Byrnes, 1996). Students in Ms. Idoni’s class, for example, were called on to apply their learning to a hypothetical situation of a fish kill, which was quite different from what they had observed in the lake. They needed to apply their understanding of the nature and consequences of pollution to this new challenge. Several teachers in Chapter 5, for example, Steve in his physics teaching and Lezlie with her kindergarten classes, took the ideas they learned through professional development directly into their classrooms.
These findings from research into learning connect in important ways with the definition of inquiry presented earlier. The Standards stress understanding major science concepts and building abilities to “do” science. These are the capacities recognized in experts, who have a well-structured understanding of the major ideas in their field and inquiry abilities that help them solve new problems efficiently and effectively (Finding 1). The research suggests that to develop expertise requires achieving both kinds of outcomes specified in the Standards: learning subject matter as well as the thinking strategies needed to use and inquire more deeply into those concepts.
Inquiry focuses on a scientifically-oriented question, problem, or phenomenon, beginning with what the learner knows and actively engaging him or her in the search for answers and explanations (Findings 2, 3). This search involves gathering and analyzing information; making inferences and predictions; and actively creating, modifying, and discarding some explanations (Finding 3). As students work together to discuss the evidence, compare results, and, with teacher guidance, connect their results with scientific knowledge, their understanding broadens (Findings 3, 4). As they develop their abilities to question, reason, and think critically about scientific phenomena, they take increasing control of their own learning (Finding 5). They can use their broadened science knowledge and inquiry abilities to address other questions and problems and to develop or test explanations for other phenomena of interest (Finding 6). In this way, effective learning involves the reorganization of the deep struc-