The effect of model-based inquiry teaching on student engagement, and the NGSS science practices in high school biology
Van Loo, Brennan J.
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The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have raised the bar of science education for teachers and students. The three stranded format of Disciplinary Core Ideas, Crosscutting Concepts, and Science Practices will require students to think and engage more deeply in the process of science. Achieving these rigorous standards for all students will require a greater level of motivation and engagement than I currently have in my classes. The purpose of this study is to investigate how model-based inquiry teaching, based on the framework of Ambitious Science Teaching, increases student motivation and engagement as well as how this framework improves student skills with the NGSS science practices. A model-based inquiry approach to science teaching emphasizes the skills and practices of scientists. During the treatment, students made an initial model to try to explain a scientific phenomenon. Classroom discourse and experiences formed the foundation of instruction, which was then used by students to revise their models. Data was collected through student surveys, and direct observations of student engagement and classroom discourse. Additionally, data was collected on students' ability to support a claim with evidence and reasoning. The results show that the treatment promoted engagement and that student skills in discourse and argumentation increased. However, students' perception of their motivation and engagement did not change with continued treatment. This study shows that model-based inquiry has significant value for students who have historic academic struggles as it moves science beyond the rote memorization that they struggle with, to explaining what is happening based on experimental evidence and personal experience.