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ERIC Number: ED524749
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 21
The Relative Effects of Inquiry-Based and Commonplace Science Teaching on Students' Knowledge, Reasoning and Argumentation about Sleep Concepts: A Randomized Control Trial
Wilson, Christopher D.; Taylor, Joseph A.; Kowalski, Susan M.; Carlson, Janet
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
From Dewey to the Standards, inquiry has been an increasingly prominent theme in multiple science education reform movements, yet the transition from theory and advocacy to practice and policy has been disappointing. While there is a growing body of research which suggests that student understanding is enhanced by inquiry-based teaching, only recently have studies begun to use experimental designs. This study attempts to answer the following questions: (1) To what extent can differences in student learning between the inquiry-based and commonplace groups be attributed to randomized group assignment?; (2) What differences in achievement by treatment group exist specific to the learning goals of knowledge, reasoning, and argumentation?; and (3) Does student race/ethnicity, gender, or socio-economic status account for variation in posttest scores above and beyond variation accounted for by pretest scores and group assignment? The study participants came from 24 schools from seven districts from across a range of urban, suburban, and rural areas; five of the students attended private schools and two were home-schooled. The authors use the Horizon Research Inc. survey and interview data (Weiss et al., 2003 and Hudson, McMahon & Overstreet, 2002) to define "commonplace teaching", and use The Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) 5E instructional model, or the "5Es" (Bybee, 1997) to organize the inquiry-based unit. This study found that students in an inquiry-based classroom reached significantly higher levels of achievement than students experiencing commonplace teaching. The superior effectiveness of the inquiry-based instruction was consistent across a range of learning goals (knowledge, scientific reasoning, and argumentation) and types of measures (dichotomous items, open-response items, and clinical interviews). This study therefore contributes to the growing body of evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of inquiry-based teaching; supports the claims about inquiry in national science education reform documents (e.g. AAAS, 1993, 2000; NRC, 1996, 2000); and refutes the claims made by Kirshner, Sweller & Clark (2006) in response to the findings by Klahr and colleagues (Chen & Klahr, 1999; Klahr & Nigam, 2004). (Contains 2 tables and 2 figures.)
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 10; Grade 11; Grade 12; Grade 9; High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)