Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 Martin-Hansen, Lisa. (2002). Defining Inquiry. The Science Teacher. Vol. 69, No. 2, pp. 34-37.
This article defines the many types of inquiry (open, guided, coupled, and structured), and explores inquiry-based learning as a potential teaching tool for the science classroom.
Summary: This article assesses open, guided, coupled, and structured inquiry in terms of their level of both teacher and student involvement and suggests how each could be used to address a specific need within the context of the science classroom. Open or full inquiry is the most engaging for students, and can be used when they are familiar with a given topic. This type of inquiry consists primarily of student-lead investigations and requires higher-level thinking. Guided inquiry is similar to open inquiry but requires some direction from the teacher. This type of inquiry is an effective way to ensure all students acquire the necessary skills for later open inquiry-based learning. Coupled inquiry begins with a teacher-lead investigation (guided inquiry) followed by a student-facilitated one (open inquiry). This type of inquiry allows students to first expand their knowledge of a certain subject area and then apply that knowledge in order to solve a given problem. Finally, structured or directed inquiry is “cookbook style” learning in which students follow directions to achieve a predetermined end point. This type of inquiry is the least engaging for students but can be useful in helping them to visualize certain concepts.
Evaluation: This short article provides an excellent overview of inquiry-based learning as a teaching tool in the science classroom. The author successfully highlights the importance of letting the students become the teachers and suggests that each type of inquiry can build upon another to facilitate this process. Concrete examples of inquiry-based learning used to address specific needs in the science classroom are provided and the author offers some perspective from the point of view of both teachers and students on the overall benefit of this teaching tool. I am particularly drawn to the concept of coupled inquiry, as this allows the teacher to cover materials defined by the curriculum while simultaneously allowing students to explore their own interests. In summary, I found the article very informative and well written. All concepts were clearly and concisely introduced and could easily find application in many subject areas. I would strongly recommend this article to future science and math teachers.
Connection to the Course/ Implications for Teaching:Already, in the first few days of classes we have talked about the positive impact that asking a simple question can have on the students’ overall learning experience, a direct link to inquiry-based learning. We have also discussed the importance of student engagement, a theme that really hits home in this article. As a future science teacher, reading this article has given me some perspective on each type of inquiry and how it could be best incorporated into my own teaching. Likewise, I have given some thought to how my own learning has benefitted from this teaching tool. I am a firm believer in student-lead learning and am confident that incorporating inquiry into my science classroom will enrich the learning environment.