The impact of inquiry learning on students' ability to analyze data and draw conclusions

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Montana State University - Bozeman, Graduate School


Previous research suggests that involving students in real world inquiry projects improves their understanding of science content. Some particular features that inquiry teachers use include being a facilitator, modeling inquiry, encouraging student thinking, and engaging students in self-directed learning in which students solve problems, hypothesize, interpret data, create experiments, and explain findings. The primary focus of this study was to determine the impact of inquiry learning on sixth grade students' ability to analyze science data and draw conclusions. The 5E's inquiry teaching model was used during the research. The 5E's include engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate. They are a series of steps when lesson planning that involves creating excitement, asking questions and designing ways to answer questions, sharing information and then taking investigations a step further or to the next level. Activities that were appropriate for Earth Science were selected. Each successive inquiry activity utilized a gradual release of inquiry components. The outcomes of a five week inquiry unit were compared to the results of a five week traditional teaching unit. The results of this study suggested both traditional and inquiry teaching are important to develop well-rounded science students. Inquiry teaching improves students' ability to apply science skills to data and analysis and drawing conclusions tasks. This produces strong science thinkers. Traditional teaching improves students' ability to demonstrate data analysis and drawing conclusions skills on traditional tests. Because students need all of these skills, both teaching methods should continue to be an integral part of teaching.




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