Research in Science Education 47 (1):1–24 (2017)

Authors
Gilbert Burgh
University of Queensland
Abstract
Developing students’ skills to pose and respond to questions and actively engage in inquiry behaviours enables students to problem solve and critically engage with learning and society. The aim of this study was to analyse the impact of providing teachers with an intervention in inquiry pedagogy alongside inquiry science curriculum in comparison to an intervention in non-inquiry pedagogy alongside inquiry science curriculum on student questioning and other inquiry behaviours. Teacher participants in the comparison condition received training in four inquiry-based science units and in collaborative strategic reading. The experimental group, the community of inquiry (COI) condition, received training in facilitating a COI in addition to training in the same four inquiry-based science units. This study involved 227 students and 18 teachers in 9 primary schools across Brisbane, Australia. The teachers were randomly allocated by school to one of the two conditions. The study followed the students across years 6 and 7 and students’ discourse during small group activities was recorded, transcribed and coded for verbal inquiry behaviours. In the second year of the study, students in the COI condition demonstrated a significantly higher frequency of procedural and substantive higher-order thinking questions and other inquiry behaviours than those in the comparison condition. Implementing a COI within an inquiry science curriculum develops students’ questioning and science inquiry behaviours and allows teachers to foster inquiry skills predicated by the Australian Science Curriculum. Provision of inquiry science curriculum resources alone is not sufficient to promote the questioning and other verbal inquiry behaviours predicated by the Australian Science Curriculum.
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