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 scientific questions, give students opportunities to explore and create their own explanations, provide scientific explanations and help students connect these to their own ideas, and create opportunities for students to extend, apply, and evaluate what they have learned. Common components or phases that are shared by instructional models are shown in Table 2-7.

Instructional models have helped teachers and those who support them — in particular, curriculum developers — to design instruction in ways that attend to how learning occurs and afford students opportunities to engage in scientific inquiry. The primary disadvantage of instructional models applies to models in general: by definition, they simplify the world. Teachers and others can be misled into thinking of them as lockstep, prescriptive devices — rather than as general guides for designing instruction that help learning to unfold through inquiry, which must always be adapted to the needs of particular learners, the specific learning goals, and the context for learning.


A number of myths about inquiry-based learning and teaching have at times been wrongly attributed to the National Science Education Standards. These myths threaten to inhibit progress in science education reform either by characterizing inquiry as too difficult to achieve or by neglecting the essential features of inquiry-based learning. Listed below are responses to five of these mistaken beliefs.

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