Email Status

Volume 16, Number 5
September/October 2000

We Need a Better Understanding of Inquiry in Instruction


Many national and state science education instructional documents propose inquiry as a standard for learning without saying what it really means. For instance, the National Research Council's recently released report, Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards, presents examples of inquiry practices, particularly in science classrooms, but no clear definition.

Yet studies conducted by this author and his students through Temple University's Center for Science Laboratory Studies, as well as research reported by M. D. Herron (see his 1979 article, "The Nature of Scientific Enquiry," in The School Review) and later reports reveal that providing examples alone does not increase teachers' ability to understand this approach to instruction. While instructional materials can update content and involve students in more hands-on experiences, they do not necessarily foster opportunities for students to practice inquiry in instruction when it is defined simply as the single process of students asking relevant questions about issues to which they do not possess predetermined answers.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


Also by this Author