The effects of open inquiry versus guided inquiry on student achievement and enthusiasm for science
McMullan, Candace Marie
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The purpose of this action research was to identify the benefits of inquiry education on student enthusiasm, and abilities to form, analyze, and apply data in a way that allows for thorough conclusions, connections and retention. Open inquiry techniques were being compared against guided inquiry techniques to see which method achieved the best results. To compare these two techniques, three chapters of one unit were used throughout the treatment. The first chapter had all students participate in conducting an open inquiry lab, to grow confident in the expected procedures. In the second and third chapters, students were broken into two groups. One group conducted an open inquiry lab over that chapter's topic, and the other group conducted a guided inquiry lab provided by me. These groups switched their roles from guided to open inquiry or vice versa during chapter three. During the course of the intervention, data were gathered through pre and post intervention surveys and interviews, discussion participation and comments record, formative chapter assessments, a summative unit assessment, a post-intervention inquiry assessment, lab report analysis, and record of student resources. Evidence from surveys, interviews and discussions showed that student enthusiasm for science did increase with the greater use of inquiry; however, their excitement for open inquiry decreased. Students preferred to prepare for, conduct, and complete lab reports over guided inquiry labs because they felt more focused allowing them to learn more from the experience. Students' dislike for lab reports increased throughout the extent of the study. Also, their abilities for drawing thorough conclusions and forming connections did not vary much throughout the lab, but did increase more with guided inquiry. Formative assessments pointed to a more success from students currently taking part in open inquiry; however, according to the summative unit assessment, retention of knowledge was more greatly sustained with the use of guided inquiry. It is clear that the use of inquiry provides many benefits within the science classroom, and both guided and open inquiry forms have purpose. However, my results indicate that guided inquiry is more efficient, highly enjoyed, and maintains greater retention.