The effects of guided inquiry on students' understanding of physics concepts in the middle school science classroom

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Montana State University - Bozeman, Graduate School


A large emphasis within the National Science Education Standards has been placed on using inquiry learning to deliver instruction. Many teachers either struggle with using inquiry learning or believe they are using inquiry learning due to lack of understanding. This paper set out to consider the effectiveness of guided inquiry in the middle school physics classroom. This project spanned a total of two months, where students were taught introductory physic concepts using one investigation that used traditional methods of instruction and three investigations using guided inquiry learning. Data collected identified the effects on understanding content, long-term memory, and student and teacher motivation using preunit, postunit, and delayed assessments, interviews, concept mapping, surveys, teacher journaling, and peer teacher observations. The study results were mixed. Understanding content and concept mapping had a positive impact on guided inquiry learning in general, while long-term memory showed mixed results. Data also indicated that guided inquiry increased student and teacher motivation.




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