Inquiring into inquiry learning in secondary science education.

Haynes, Heather Rene Ann
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Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, University of Regina

This research study investigates the creation, use, and effectiveness of inquiry lab activities in a secondary science classroom. The study begins by reflecting on what leads the teacher-researcher to convert traditional, step-bystep lab activities into student-centered inquiries by turning them inside-out and gains momentum as positive student-participant feedback is obtained. Using the reflective practice and narrative inquiry influenced approaches as the central research tools teacher-researcher and student-participants can provide one another with feedback into their experiences with both traditional and inquiry approaches to lab activities. The two-way communication between teacher-researcher and student-participants is illustrated within the thesis text itself as “My Story” and “Student’s Stories” and provides an opportunity for students to directly influence their teacher’s approach to lesson planning. Through engagement in the Osmosis/Diffusion Inquiry studentparticipants and teacher-researcher explore and examine their experiences within different aspects of science inquiry (background research, experimentation, documentation, presentation of work and application); student-participants reflect on how participation in the inquiry activity impacts their understanding of how science is done and how scientific knowledge is obtained; and participants describe their learning experiences during the inquiry activity in comparison with traditional lab activities. Studentparticipant feedback shows a preference for an inquiry approach over a traditional approach to lab activities in all areas explored consistent with participant observations of increased student engagement and rich opportunities for students to construct their own knowledge. Findings suggest that science teachers examine the limitations of traditional lab activities and attempt teaching practices that incorporate student-centered inquiry. Because this is not done easily process of professional development through collaborative teaching communities as explained in this study are recommended. In this way educators who wish to explore innovation of change in pedagogy can receive the inspiration, support, and motivation to help them move in various directions including inquiry-teaching practice.

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction, University of Regina. ix, 132 p.