Inquiry-based instructional strategies and science content vocabulary
Idar, April M.
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Due to the sophisticated academic vocabulary in science, students need help in learning and processing academic vocabulary and language to become independent science learners. The purpose of this study was to investigate which inquiry-based instructional strategies will effectively improve student acquisition of science content vocabulary. This action research-based classroom project was conducted at Heritage High School in Littleton, Colorado. Treatment was implemented in three freshman level physical science classes (N=87) during the months of January, February, and March 2017. Content-specific vocabulary terms were taught using traditional direct instruction and compared to vocabulary instruction using the inquiry-based strategies 5E Learning Cycle and gamification. Comparison of vocabulary pre- and post-assessments has shown that all three instructional strategies improved student vocabulary acquisition (p = 0.00), however there was not a significant difference between the three instructional strategies (p = 0.49). The 5E Learning Cycle had the highest post-test mean score, highest average normalized gains, and had the greatest decrease in standard deviation between the pre-and post-test indicating it was likely more effective than direct instruction and gamification instructional strategies. Student responses on the Student Input Survey and post-treatment interviews showed that students enjoyed the 5E Learning Cycle and gamification instructional strategies and felt that these strategies improved their motivation, engagement, and learning of content vocabulary more than direct instruction.