Research: Past & Present
all students achieve higher standards
Teaching Science through Inquiry-Based and
Ann Gravitz, Main
Elementary School, Santa Barbara, CA.
Introduction to Action Research:
During the 2001-02 school year, I decided to teach the California fourth grade
science standards through hands-on science with an emphasis on student questioning
and discovery, not lecturing and memorization. Using inquiry-based teaching
and learning, students are encouraged to formulate their own questions, complete
observations, make conclusions, and support their conclusions with evidence.
I had been looking for an opportunity for the students to have more active
experiences and less paper and pencil tasks, and science seemed to be the
perfect subject for hands-on learning. With the pressure increasing to achieve
state standards and raise a school's Academic Profile Index (API), my goal
was to complete the California Science Standards in the four domains of physical
sciences, life sciences, earth sciences, and investigation and experimentation
through inquiry-based learning.
During this time, I also
served as a MetLife Fellow with the Teachers
Network Policy Institute,
a nonprofit education organization that connects
public school teachers around the country. As
a fellow, I am required to do a year-long action
research project in my fourth-grade classroom,
so I decided to study the effects of my inquiry-based
teaching methods. Action research is a powerful
tool for teachers that allow us to use our classroom
as laboratories to gather and disseminate information
about what is it like on the front lines of education.
Through action research, teachers like me are
able to use their voices and experience to influence
Even though it was a temptation
to "just teach" the
material rather than allow students the time
to explore, I carved out a specific time each
week for learning through exploration throughout
the year and gauge student and parent reactions
to my methods.
I taught a multicultural
fourth-grade class that consists of 20 Latino,
two Asian, and eight
Anglo students. Of the 20 Latino students, there
were eight English Language Learners (ELL); three
Resource Specialist students; one speech and
language student; and a GATE (Gifted and Talented
Education Program) cluster consisting of six
For my science sessions, I partnered with Dr. Gregory Kelly of the University
of California, Santa Barbara, Graduate School of Education. A teacher-researcher,
Dr. Kelly and his graduate students did ethnographic research in my classrooms
several years ago. The experience had been wonderful, so I contacted Dr. Kelly
and asked him to come back into my classroom for the year to work on science.
By partnering with Dr. Kelly, my students experienced resources and people
outside of our regular school environment. Miriam Polne-Fuller, a researcher
from the U.C.S.B. Marine Science Institute, also supported this project with
Rationale for Action Research
The California state standards say that "under the domain of investigation
and experimentation, scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions
and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept
and addressing content in the other three strands, students should develop
their own questions and perform investigations." 1
A large number of the standards
can be taught through lecture and memorization.
a standard reads: "Students know the role of
electromagnets in the construction of electric
motors, electric generators, and simple devices,
such as doorbells and earphones."2 To "know" does
not necessarily mean to understand. Selecting
the correct answers on a multiple-choice means
that a student knows the facts but not necessarily
that the student understands the concepts.
Review of Previous Research:
There are two widely used methods of teaching:
lecturing and recitation. During lecturing, the
teacher presents the knowledge, and students memorize
facts and procedures. Evaluation usually consists
of short-answer and multiple-choice questions and
teachers asking rhetorical questions. Recitation,
which is closely related to evaluation, involves
the teacher asking questions to determine student
knowledge (initiation), listening to the answers
given (response), and determining the correctness
of these responses (evaluation). This is sometimes
called IRE.3 As with
lecturing, the teacher primarily judges students' responses
and students produce answers that they think agree
with teacher expectations. During recitations,
teachers generally ask questions where the answers
are already known.4
At the opposite spectrum
is student-generated discussions and inquiry-based
learning. Students "construct
knowledge with one another by asking questions
and explaining their understandings. Such knowledge
involves more than memorizing facts, executing
procedures, or comprehending complex topics;
the students often formulate key issues for consideration.
During student-generated inquiry discussion,
teacher questions are rare but student questions
occur frequently and spontaneously."5 In
this environment, students play a more active
role in learning.
The benefits of student questioning
has been emphasized in the National Science
Standards, which say, "Inquiry into authentic
questions generated from student experiences
is the central strategy for teaching science."6 The
Benchmarks for Science Literacy and the National
Science Education Standards advocate a hands-on
approach to science with emphasis on inquiry
based approaches.7 Teachers
can assist student learning and help refine student
ideas by encouraging student work in small group
settings by asking such questions as, "What is
your evidence for that idea? What was your observation?
What might you infer from that observation? Does
it make sense that .? Do we all agree that .?" 8
Both the National Science Education Standards
and Benchmarks for Science Literacy also address
scientific literacy and advocate science as a
way to prepare youth for their future by helping
them understand scientific and environmental
issues facing the world. The National Science
Education Standards state:
"All of us have a stake, as individuals and
as a society, in scientific literacy. An understanding
of science makes it possible for everyone to
share in the richness and excitement of comprehending
the natural world. Scientific literacy enables
people to use scientific principles and processes
in making personal decisions and to participate
in discussions of scientific issues that affect
society. A sound grounding in science strengthens
many of the skills that people use every day,
like solving problems creatively, thinking
critically, working cooperatively in teams,
using technology effectively, and valuing life-long
learning. And the economic productivity of
our society is tightly linked to the scientific
and technological skills of our work force." 9
Therefore, the purpose of
science, according to the National Science
Education Standards is
multifold. John Wright concludes, "In both set
of standards, a central strategy for attaining
literacy is to engage students in meaningful
inquiry, including experiments requiring inquiry
over extended period of time, so students experience
the highs and lows of success and failure that
characterize authentic problem solving.Inquiry,
which is central to the process of reification,
is a central feature of the standards." 10
The Benchmarks (AAAs, 1993)
and the National Science Education Standards
both emphasize professional
development, economic support, and teacher input
as necessary for a real change to occur in the
teaching of science and the fulfillment of the
national standards. Often, the standards require
experiences and knowledge that has not been part
of administrator's or teacher's backgrounds as
students or professionals.11 The
standards require teachers to experience and
master the same skills and attitudes needed by
the students for authentic inquiry learning. 12
I used the concepts I drew from the standards
and benchmarks, such as encouraging student inquiry,
using student generated discussions, encouraging
scientific literacy, and supporting teacher development,
in my teaching and action research.
Action Research Tools
I obtained data from videotapes of small group settings and whole class settings,
student journals, parent surveys, teacher observations, five student case studies,
and poetry students wrote about science.
Science sessions were usually
held weekly for approximately an hour and a
half. All sessions
were taped of both small group and whole class
discussions. The student journals included student
data keeping, diagrams, observations, evidence,
conclusions, reactions, and essays. A survey
was sent home to parents in both Spanish and
English asking them to evaluate what had occurred
during science instruction this year. I conducted
observations that occurred not only during the
designated science time, but also throughout
our daily activities, since students often discussed
science throughout the day. I also noted my students' responses
and reactions to whole class, small group, and
individual work and analyzed their poems to gauge
I studied the following five
students of varying linguistic, cultural, academic,
skills more closely to gauge the effects of inquiry-based
Student One: An assertive English Language
Learner (ELL) with strong leadership skills.
It was her first year in an all-English classroom.
She arrived from Mexico the proceeding year (third
Student Two: A student identified as
part of the Gifted and Talented Education Program
(GATE). She is an avid reader. She started out
the year more as an observer than leader.
Student Three: A student receiving speech
and language assistance. He was reticent to volunteer
in whole group discussions, had difficulty communicating
ideas in a whole group setting, and was still
transitioning to English.
Student Four: A student identified as
a Resource Specialist student. This student also
has problems with language development, and she
came to this country at around the age of seven
with a deficit in language development due to
a lack of exposure to language even in her primary
Student Five: This student is bilingual,
has high goals for herself, and has announced
that she plans to be a doctor and attend Harvard
when she grows up.
Data and Analysis
Factual and Evidential questions
Inquiry- based learning guides the student to actively seek out information
and take responsibility for his or her own learning, a stated goal of the National
Education Standards and the Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Questioning is
a strong indication that children are thinking "outside the box" and developing
Factual questions occurred in my classroom,
which were identified by one or more of the following
a. Observations of less than thirty minutes
used to gather evidence and answer the question.
b. A "yes" or "no" response can answer the question.
c. A definition can answer the question.
d. The answer requires research in only one domain and does not require extensive
e. An experiment that can be accomplished between 6-10 minutes and can answer
a student question.
An example of a factual question is:
"Is the crab really dead?"
Evidential questions that occurred had one or more of the following characteristics:
a. Observations beyond thirty minutes are required to get evidence and answer
b. Answers require knowledge across several domains.
c. Often asks, "Why?"
d. The answer to the question often raises more questions than answers.
e. Experiments take more than ten minutes but usually occur over hours, days,
An example of an evidential
"Why did the crab die but
the sea anemones did not?"
In analyzing the number and types of questions, I was able to study the thinking
processes of my students. Factual questions seem to be a beginning point for
inquiry-based learning. Evidential questions seem to extend learning, because
they require more inferential thinking and discoveries across different domains.
Students must do more research and apply new information to past learning and
I transcribed an hour and
a half video of small groups observing pyrosistis
Pyrosistis are marine unicellular photosynthetic
organisms. One whole group analysis was in the
domain of physical science of electricity and
magnetism. Three whole group analyses of questions
were done in the area of life sciences. The first
was done with alginate beads. Children combined
calcium chloride and alginate. By doing this,
they were able to observe how the sugar (alginate)
combined with the calcium to form balls. This
project introduced to them the concept of primary
producers, how they make their own food, and
how alginate and calcium combine to give structure
to such sea plants as seaweed.
I also asked whole group questions about the
class salt-water tank. Creatures were gotten
from U.C.S.B. Marine Institute and observed over
a two -week period. Students asked questions
asked about pysrositis in whole group discussion.
They not only observed pyrosistis under the microscope,
but they also took a test tube home of pyrosistis
to observe with their families. This was an opportunity
for an extensive observation as some pyrosistis
were still alive after more than a month. Lastly,
I recorded the five student case studies of questioning
in life sciences, including alginate beads, pyrosistis,
and sea tank.
In the small group discussions, 80% of the questions
were evidential. The range on whole group evidential
questions was from 57% for questions on pyrosistis
to the 80% on alginate beads. The total number of evidential questions asked
for physical and life science was 64%. In the individual case studies, both
case study one (ELL student), case study two, (gifted and talented education
student,) and case three study (speech and language student) asked 64% evidential
questions. In case study four (resource specialist student), the student asked
53% evidential questions. Case study five (bilingual, gifted and talented education
student) asked 83% evidential questions.
It was very interesting to
me that children were asking both factual and
I used their questioning as an indicator that
they were becoming active learners and not passive
receivers of information. I could tell the students
had learned more than in my previous science
lessons because of the quality of the questions
they were asking. In this inquiry-based classroom,
students seemed to formulate excellent questions.
For example, one student asked, "Is a Venus Flytrap
Plant, a primary producer or a secondary consumer
since it is a plant but eats flies?"
The classroom atmosphere
seemed to encourage students to ask questions
and then look for evidence
to support their learning. It is also important
to remember that although evidential questions
require more evidence and inferential thinking,
factual questions are also important for science
exploration and seem to function as an entry
point to the higher level evidential questioning.
The parent survey showed that parents were very pleased with this fourth grade
science program. Ninety percent of the students talked more to their parents
about science, liked science more in general, and enjoyed the science program
in school more this year than in the past. Ninety-seven percent of the parents
felt that the students learned more in science this year while 93% reported
that their children preferred to come to school more on science day than
any other day of the week. Nearly 70% of the parents reported that their
children asked them more questions about science than they had in the past.
The majority of the students shared with their
parents what we studied in both physical and
life science. Ninety-three percent of the students
had talked to their parents about physical science
(electricity, electrical circuits, and magnets,)
while 86% of the students had discussed with
their parents our life science (sea tank, alginate
beads, web of life, primary producers, primary
and secondary consumers) at the time of this
study. Even though we had just begun our discussions
of the school science fair at the time of the
survey, 76% of the students had already communicated
with their parents about it. From the survey,
I found that the children were split fairly evenly
on their preferences between physical and life
The surveys also showed that
parents supported the collaboration with Dr.
Kelly, UCSB researcher.
Parents wrote that science became more interesting
because the program included more hands-on experiences.
A parent wrote, "Guest teachers are an asset
to any program, but Dr. Kelly's manner encouraged
inquiry. I think that he helped the students
a lot because they learned more science." Another
parent said that he "most definitely brings true
hands-on experience to the classroom. Dr. Kelly
became sort of a super hero." When asked if they
would suggest this partnership with the researcher-teacher
next year, comments were extremely positive.
One parent responded "Yes, hearing and talking
about college is important, but actually knowing
and talking with someone from U.C.S.B. has brought
the college experience to the fourth grade. It's
never too early!" Other examples of what parents
wrote are: "Of course, because it entertains
the kids and helps them learn science better
than a book might teach them. Dr. Kelly makes
science fun for the kids." "Yes, what a great
program! Let's keep inspiring our youngsters!"
Parents also made it clear
that the program had made a difference in the
lives of many of
their children. Although it was not a stated
goal of the California fourth grade science standards,
parents reported that the program increased their
child's awareness of the environment and science
in the world. One parent reported, "She has learned
about ocean life, its creatures, the environment,
and how to protect it." Another parent said, "He
understands more about electricity and also was
much more interested in looking in tide pools
when we went to the beach."
Other parents reported that
their children learned more science, and extended
their learning outside
of school. A father said that science "has made
her more interested in watching shows on the
Discovery Channel and the Nature Channels."
Based on parent responses, I saw that the inquiry-based,
hands-on science program encouraged students
to share with their parents, enjoy science more,
come to school for science, and ask more questions about science than in the
Case Study One (ELL, English Language Learner): This student wrote
about her positive reactions to science in her journal. "I have a lot of fun
in science, and I like to learn things I don't know. We do the things instead
of just look at a book, and when we finish we talk about it. I do like science
because it's important to me. I remember the first time that I tried to make
a light bulb light up with a battery and some wires. After a long time, it
actually worked. I sure love science."
She was also able to apply
her learning to the world around her when she
discussed science and
safety issues: "It is safety if you don't fly
kites near wires because you can get electrocuted.
It is not a good idea to put your fingers in
a switch because you can get electrocuted or
shocked, and you could have to go to the hospital
or you could even die. It's safety if you don't
get your hands wet and touch wires. You should
I observed that she was often a leader in small group work, eliciting questions
from the other students. Furthermore, she was an active participant in whole
group discussions and seemed very excited each week about science day.
Case Study Two (Gifted and Talented Program Student whose primary language
is English): This student was more of an observer than class leader at
the beginning of the year. She chose to write a letter to a future fourth grader,
and her scientific knowledge and enthusiasm are illustrated by excerpts from
"I can guarantee you that
if you get Mrs. Gravitz next year; you will
have a really fun
year in science. My favorite thing that we
learned was photosynthesis. The way that cycle
works is the trees have something in them that
all plants do. It is called chlorophyll, and
it makes plants green. The chlorophyll sucks
in the sun, carbon dioxide, and water. Once
it has all of those ingredients, it feeds it
to the plant that eats it. After sucking in
all that food, the tree gets full. So, it gives
out oxygen. We breathe in the oxygen and breathe
out carbon dioxide, which the tree sucks again.
Photosynthesis is an interesting process. My
favorite science selection was learning about
atoms. I liked it because I could teach my
parents about them since they forgot. I thought
the nucleus, protons, neutrons, and electrons
were really cool. Working with Dr. Kelly made
school more interesting."
The parents of this student reported that this
was the first time she had had such a complete
program in science. They said she shared a lot
of information with them at home, and that she
was excited about her learning. For this student,
an inquiry-based, hands-on science program encouraged
further questioning, research, experiments, and
leadership skills. She became an active leader
not only in science but also in all areas of
Case Study Three (Speech and Language Student): Because
this student had language difficulties, science
gave him a new way to learn and to express his
skills and talents. He asked a lot of evidential
questions (64%) in his journal, a number equal
to the gifted (GATE) student and the English
Language Learner who actively spoke up in class.
Without this hands-on science program, I would
not have learned about this child's particular
gifts. He was eager to work with electrical circuits,
look at pyrosistis under the microscope, observe
the life changes in the aquarium, and draw detailed,
accurate pictures of what he learned.
An excerpt from his journal shows his desire
to be a scientist:
"I like to do science because when I grow up, I want to work in U.C.S.B. I want
to study about animals that live in the ocean. Mrs.Gravitz and Dr. Kelly bring
animals of the ocean and we study the animals. I think that science is important
for the people. This year in science we learned about pyrosistis, magnets, safety,
decomposers, generators, compasses, world magnetic forces, and atoms."
Case Study Four (Resource Specialist Student): This
student's background initially made it difficult
for her to process language and communicate,
but she seemed highly motivated to achieve. She
had conflicting opinions about her work this
year: "In science, I enjoyed trying to make circuits
the most. I enjoyed making circuits because it
was difficult. When things are too easy, it's
boring. Sometimes when I do science, I feel bored
because sometimes it is too easy. I feel happy
when I make things work. When we were trying
to make light and it worked, I was excited. I
learned about electricity. You can make electricity
with wires and light. I also learned about circuits.
If you use a light bulb, a battery, and wires,
you can make light. I also learned about magnets.
Magnets attach to metal things."
The poem of this student uses similes and creates
Pyrosistis can glow like lightning or shine
like the sun.
Pyrosistis can be the stars, because they turn blue.
If you were pyrosistis, you could have fun turning like lightning.
You could be blue like the stars in the sky and the blue water too.
Case Study Five (Gifted and Talented Program
Student whose primary language is Spanish): This
student did not volunteer very much at the
beginning of the year, but began to participate
a lot during science discussion time that carried
over into other curriculum areas. At the end
of the year, she actively expressed her opinions,
answered questions, and asked a lot of evidential
questions. Of all the case studies, she asked
the most evidential questions at 83%. She wrote
in her journal:
"I learned many things in science. I learned
that creatures in sea tanks sometimes don't
get enough oxygen. For example, a crab we had
in our classroom died because he didn't get
enough oxygen. After Crabby died, we learned
that the other sea creatures were eating him.
It was great learning about the sea tank."
Science also inspired the following poem by her:
Science is Great!
Science is like birds singing in the air.
Circuits are like yellow roses blooming on a summer morning.
Pyrosistis are like light bulbs shining in a sunny afternoon.
Alginate beads sit in a jar full of water while the sun is shining up in the
light blue sky.
The magnets are sitting in a dark pencil box like stars in a dark sky.
Chlorophyll stays in plants while rain starts pouring to the ground.
In addition to the five case studies, many other
students wrote about their positive experiences
and what they learned in both their journals
and in their poetry. I was amazed at the quality
and content of so many of the poems written by
the children. Many poems dealt with science being
a part of everyday life, as shown below:
I am part of the web of life creatures big and
I am part of the web of life sizes short and tall.
I am part of the web of life but I'm not so scared.
I am part of the web of life where everything is so paired.
Now there are boats floating by leaking gasoline.
So, I hope it's just a dream, a very terrible dream.
A final poem sums up what every teacher would hope students would feel about
Science is Life: (Dedicated to Dr. Kelly)
Science is life. Science is living
Science is what creates the web of life.
If you were to go inside science
You would see lights turning on and off
Sparks shooting all around
And magnetic forces attracting and repulsing each other.
Although you see that
You would also see someone teaching
Teaching children science.
Science they won't forget.
The student journals demonstrate not only the
knowledge of subject matter but also their enjoyment
of science. While the poetry pieces contain scientific
information, the students also capture themes
such as the web of life, beauty of science, and
the responsibility of man through vivid words,
metaphors, and similes. This evidence also demonstrates
one way that science can be connected to and
serve as a stimulus for the language arts curriculum.
Videos of Small Group Work
The following conversation between small group members, Dr. Kelly, and me while
the students look through their microscopes gives a good snapshot of the
inquiry-based method of learning:
Student A: "What do
Student B: "They don't eat anything."
Student C: "They're living!"
Dr. Kelly: "It moves."
Student A: "How come the line does
not go away?"
Dr. Kelly: "Do you know what the line
might be? Look here and see what happens when
you move that. The line is a pointer. Now you
can show (Student Name)!"
Students: "Mrs. Gravitz, Mrs. Gravitz,
look. It is really cool."
Student A: "(Student Name) discovered
something in the microscope."
Mrs. Gravitz: "Oh, my, that is one of
the most incredible things I've ever seen in
Dr. Kelly: "They found that without
me. That's incredible!"
Student A: "I can't stop looking at
it. It is amazing."
Student C: "Dr. Kelly I can see it.
Should I do the question or picture first?"
Dr. Kelly: "What would you like to
Student C: "Questions."
Dr. Kelly: "When scientists do work,
there are many ways to do good work."
When studying the small group
video, it was apparent that the interaction
Dr. Kelly and me consisted of mutual respect
and joint exploration. I also found that I benefited
by observing my students, because I was able
to see how my students all took on different
leadership qualities. By teaching using inquiry-based
methods, my students felt more comfortable taking
on leadership roles during different hands-on
activities. They even volunteered to go into
other classrooms to help with science and share
Researcher-Teacher and Teacher Interaction
Working with Dr. Kelly was a valuable experience
for me and my students. Dr. Kelly taught science
concepts I did not understand, since I had
not had formal
science training in decades. As a true inquiry-based teacher, Dr. Kelly had
me raise the questions and try to find the answers. The questioning was hard,
and sometimes I just wanted to say, "Tell me. Show me." However, I truly got
the training the National Education Standards recommend; I had the same experience
of learning science that I provided to my students.
During our classroom teaching, Dr. Kelly took a leadership roll in providing
materials, resources, lesson ideas, and encouragement. I still led whole group
discussions, maintained our usual classroom structure, and was the teacher
in charge of the classroom.
As a result of our partnership,
Dr. Kelly and I shared the excitement of seeing
ask questions, look for evidence, and carry their
learning far beyond the California fourth grade
standards. For instance, when children begin
asking questions like, "What does the combination
of alginate and calcium chloride have to do with
the web of life?" or "Does the alginate in seaweed
combine with calcium to give the plant its structure?" both
Dr. Kelly and I witnessed these children becoming
scientifically literate and developing thinking
skills that would serve them well in all areas
Based upon the research done in this study, I formulated the following four
policy recommendations that will improve the teaching of science standards,
help students to acquire science literacy and allow them to develop the thinking
skills to be active learners across the curriculum.
Implement the goals of the National Science Standards NOW!
Science Literacy, as defined by the National Science Standards, is more than
memorizing facts. It is preparing children for higher level thinking and taking
their role as informed citizens able to understand environmental issues, think
outside the box, and creatively contribute to the future of the world. Educators
and the public must promote the goals stated in the National Science Standards.
In 1993, the Benchmarks
for Science Literacy called for a hands-on,
inquiry- based program
of science in public schools. Now, in 2002, we
are instead placing even more emphasis on pencil
and paper tasks and achieving high test scores
on multiple-choice state tests that do not require
higher level thinking. Hopefully, it will not
take another Sputnik "emergency" for us to realize
that a curriculum in science that promotes thinking
and exploration will produce adult citizens who
will be able to deal with the future needs of
Train teachers to teach
science and other subjects using inquiry-based,
Most teachers, like me, did not have the
opportunity during their education to approach
science or other subjects through inquiry-based
learning. It is essential to have quality in-service
training woven into a teacher's day, similar
to how my work with Dr. Kelly was a part of my
day. I should also note that teacher training
is advocated in the National Science Standards.
As teachers become more experienced and trained
in inquiry-based science, they will be able to
use this to raise student achievement.
Allocate money for equipment and materials
necessary to carry out this program.
Because I had a partnership, I had access
to materials such as high quality microscopes,
a sea tank, and electrical equipment. Funds must
be allocated for hands-on materials and training
Facilitate partnerships for teachers in public
Having an outside expert in science help
plan lessons and work with the students improves
the science program by allowing students to form
a new beneficial relationship, providing content
and expertise that most classroom teachers have
not developed, and helping to provide materials.
Give teachers a voice in curriculum planning.
Many teachers now do not have an active voice
in curriculum. I believe that science should
be taught as part of an entire curriculum and
used as a springboard for other types of learning.
During this year, science served as a stimulus
both for reading development and writing. The
children produced beautiful poetry based on their
experiences. With more preparation, this program
could have also served as a stimulus to learn
the content standards of mathematics. We are
given teacher manuals and often instructed to
follow them exactly. When teachers help to create
the curriculum and have an opportunity to fulfill
standards by hands-on exploration, they become
excited about what they are teaching. Students
pick up this excitement and also become more
involved in their learning. Yes, standards need
to be taught, but there are many roads that lead
to the same destination. Inquiry-based, hands-on
science can be a major part of the science curriculum.
Teaching science through inquiry-based methods
proved to be a wonderful, rewarding experience
for my students, Dr. Kelly and me. At the end
of the year, every single one of my students
participated in the school science fair, an indication
of how science had really made an impact on my
students. Based on the success of this year,
I plan to continue inquiry-based teaching in
science next year and may try to use this method
in other areas.
Through my teaching methods, I saw that my students
extended their ability to formulate both factual
and evidential questions, communicated more with
their parents about their learning, and were able to succeed with the science
curriculum no matter what their specific learning needs were at the start of
the school year. There were extraordinary implications for learning not only
science but for students achieving in school by being more involved in inquiry-based,
hands-on learning. I assert that the academic achievement of my students is
only one indication of what we can achieve across America throughout our curriculum
if we involve students in more hands-on, inquiry-based learning, give teachers
a voice in the curriculum, use funds to promote and build these programs, and
establish partnerships to enhance education.
1. National Research Council, National Science Education
Standards (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press 1996).
2. National Research Council,
National Science Education Standards (Washington,
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