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Effective Inquiry-Based Learning Strategies in Teaching Science to a Group of High

School Learners

Submitted by
Nermine Sherif Mahmoud Abed

In partial fulfillment of the requirements

for the Degree of Master of Education
American International College
Cairo, Egypt
Spring 2014


The purpose of this action research is to compare the effectiveness of Inquiry-Based
Learning (IBL) over Traditional pedagogical techniques in stimulating student
engagement and motivation, increasing science knowledge and developing science skills,
and determining the most effective IBL strategies that cause student learning. The study
involved six classes in G 10-12 studying science courses, with a total number of 116
students. The classes were divided during the first lesson into two groups: 1) classes
taught traditionally and 2) classes taught using IBL strategies. During the second lesson,
the two groups were switched. The collected data included three sets of data for each of
the three focus questions. Measuring student engagement was done using a student
Interest in Science Survey, Student journals and reflections, and teachers observation and
video analysis. The growth in student science knowledge and science skills development
were assessed using objective oriented quizzes, Scientific Method Projects, Teacher
observations. The effectiveness of the different IBL strategies were evaluated using
student Science Skills evaluation by teachers, Student inquiry survey, Post-intervention
student survey.
The results supported the effectiveness of IBL on student engagement, learning,
and depth of understanding. It provides a guide for teachers for planning IBL lessons using
the most effective planning and inquiry strategies, as revealed by the results.
Keywords: Inquiry-based learning, Problem-based learning, Project-based learning,
design backwards, essential questions, learning, understanding.


Table of Contents
Abstract ................................................................................................................................................... 2
List of Figures .......................................................................................................................................... 6

Introduction ...................................................................................................................................... 7

Literature Review............................................................................................................................ 10

What is Inquiry-Based Learning? .............................................................................. 10

2.1.1 Definition and history of learning. ........................................................................... 10


Understanding understanding. ............................................................................ 16


The six facets of understanding. ......................................................................... 18


IBL and PBL. ..................................................................................................... 19


Teaching for understanding. ............................................................................... 21


Introduction to inquiry-based learning. ............................................................... 24


Inquiry-Based Learning and Education Reform ......................................................... 25


Inquiry in student centered learning. .................................................................. 25


Why using essential questions? .......................................................................... 28


Inquiry in STEM Education and its role in education reform. ............................. 29


How is STEM Education reform different from other education reforms? .......... 31


Learning outcomes of inquiry-based learning. .................................................... 31

2.3 Different Strategies of Inquiry-Based Learning. (Inquiry-Based Learning in action) ...... 33


Involving students in real-life problem solving. .......................................... 34


Using projects to increase meaning and motivation. ........................................... 35


Using simulations and role plays to make meaning. ........................................... 36


Helping students learn problem-solving strategies. ............................................. 37


Successful strategies of instruction enhancing brain learning. ............................. 37


Using visual and auditory senses to enhance learning. ........................................ 38


Writing and hands-on activities and learning ...................................................... 38


Planning for Inquiry-Based Learning ........................................................................ 39


Designing courses for significant learning. ......................................................... 40


Instructional planning using different strategies ................................................. 41


Planning with the end in mind. ........................................................................... 43


Planning for learning.......................................................................................... 44



Characteristics of a good (engaging and effective) instructional design. ............. 45


Essential Questions: doorways to understanding. ............................................... 46


How to create and use essential questions. ......................................................... 47


Establishing a culture of inquiry in classrooms. .................................................. 48


Establishing a culture of inquiry in schools. ....................................................... 49


IBL Planning Guide .................................................................................................. 50


Assessment. ....................................................................................................... 50


Brain compatible inquiry-based learning activities. ............................................ 50

Method ........................................................................................................................................... 52

Context ..................................................................................................................... 52


Process...................................................................................................................... 53


Data Collection ......................................................................................................... 56


Quizzes .............................................................................................................. 58


Scientific method project ................................................................................... 58


Video Observations ............................................................................................ 58


Student Reflections ............................................................................................ 59


Teacher Reflections ........................................................................................... 59


Student Surveys ................................................................................................. 59


Teacher Survey .................................................................................................. 60

Data and Analysis ........................................................................................................................... 61


Level I ...................................................................................................................... 62


Level II ..................................................................................................................... 66


Level III .................................................................................................................... 72

Discussion and Recommendations .................................................................................................. 79

Reference List ........................................................................................................................................ 83

Appendices ............................................................................................................................................ 88
Appendix A ......................................................................................................................... 89
Appendix B ......................................................................................................................... 92
Appendix C ......................................................................................................................... 95
Appendix D ......................................................................................................................... 96


Appendix E ......................................................................................................................... 97
Appendix F.......................................................................................................................... 98
Appendix G ......................................................................................................................... 99
Appendix H ....................................................................................................................... 101
Appendix I ........................................................................................................................ 104


List of Figures
(N=116) ............................................................................................................................................................................... 62
SCIENCE ASSIGNMENTS TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITIES ................................................................................................................... 64
FIGURE 6 COMPARING STUDENT SCORE IN SCIENCE SKILLS IN THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD PROJECT ..................................................................... 69
STRATEGIES STUDENTS FOUND MOST EFFECTIVE ............................................................................................................................. 73
FIGURE 8: STUDENT RESPONSE TO Q1IN THE POST INTERVENTION STUDENT SURVEY. ..................................................................................... 75
FIGURE 9 STUDENT RESPONSES TO Q2: WHAT QUESTION DID YOU TRY TO ANSWER? ..................................................................................... 76
INQUIRY PROCESS. .................................................................................................................................................................... 77


Effective Inquiry-Based Learning Strategies in a Group of High School Science Learners

My main goal as a science teacher is to help my students develop the skills
required for the study of sciences, as well as to teach them the scientific
knowledge aligned to international science standards. One of my objectives is to
stimulate a more positive attitude towards the subject, and to make learning
science a more interesting and challenging experience. Teaching science today is
a big challenge, considering the explosion in the amount of available information,
the increasing importance of developing skills for the 21st century workforce, in
addition to the importance of understanding and acquiring scientific information
as an essential part of education.
Since 2006, I introduced the scientific method projects into our school
curriculum, with specific criteria that include selecting a problem, collecting
background information, writing a literature review, setting a hypothesis, testing
it, finding results, analyzing data and finally reaching a conclusion. I felt the
significant effect of inquiry on students skills, knowledge and personality. The
students were interested in their research topic, engaged, felt responsible for their
own knowledge, reached very deep understanding, and gained a high level of selfconfidence. This encouraged me to look for ways for incorporating these
competences into my regular teaching. My search led me to Inquiry-Based
Learning (IBL) which has proved to be more effective learning through the use of
essential questions to frame out units, and well structured activities that guide
students science learning, elicit their engagement, deepen their understanding,
and increase their achievement. The main question this study aims to answer is


how effective can IBL be compared to traditional learning considering deep

learning and understanding. The purpose of this study is to determine the most
effective IBL teaching strategies and to provide a comprehensive guide for
teachers to plan their curriculum using IBL.
The literature focuses on defining learning and understanding. Through
researching, I try to describe Inquiry-Based Learning by finding comprehensive
definitions of the processes of learning (Wolfe, 2010) and understanding (McTighes,
2010) and the implication of IBL on them, studying the evolution of inquiry (Burrow,
2006) and showing how using IBL in classes will lead to education reform. I looked for
descriptions of the best learning strategies based on how the brain works and incorporated
these strategies into my IBL planning. The Significance of this study is to provide a
comprehensive guide for teachers planning IBL.
The study involves three pairs of classes studying a science course in three
grade levels (G10- G12) and it compares student learning as a result of IBL to
student learning through traditional teaching, with a study of the effect of different
strategies on student learning. In each grade level, one class is taught using
different IBL strategies, and the other using traditional strategies. Groups were
switched in the next lesson.
Assessment of student learning was triangulated, using student surveys and
reflections, teachers class observations, video observations, surveys and
reflections and quantitative student achievement in quizzes and Scientific Method
projects. The results showed increased student interest in science in the inquiry
classroom, more engagement and more time on task, higher level of in-class


discussions. All classes are given the same teacher made assessment after each unit of
study. The results show that the students in the inquiry classroom environment showed
better achievement versus the students in the traditional environment, and the analysis of
results determined the most successful IBL strategies.
The first limitation to this study is the initial resistance of the learners to the Inquiry
process, and their initial objection to their role as explorers. They are used to having the
teacher as the main source of knowledge, supported by the textbook. They are not used to
the teaching model in which the teacher asks questions, and the students explore and
search for the answer, supporting it with evidence and communicating their findings. In
future studies, introduction of IBL strategies to students will be done gradually. The
second limitation was the need of the teachers involved in the study for extensive
Professional Development in IBL, in this study only two more science teachers were
involved, and they were given sufficient readings on IBL, in addition to their strong
interest and motivation in improving their teaching practices. IBL strategies stimulate
student engagement, develop sense of responsibility in own learning, deepen
understanding, and trigger critical thinking.
The third limitation was the availability of internet connection all the time, and the
availability of specialized science resources at the school library. These limitations were
partially compensated for by the students use of their own mobiles and tablets in the
science classroom, as well as frequently using lab investigations as their tool for collecting
data, and finally using the schools Ebscohost account for online library resources.



Literature Review

Teaching science in the 21st century is a big challenge. The aim of this study is
to show the effect of using IBL in teaching science on student engagement,
growth in science knowledge and skills, and to determine the most successful IBL
strategies. The research starts by a general study of what is learning and
understanding in order to describe IBL as one of the most effective learning
methods. It then studies the potential role of IBL in education reform, especially
STEM education. The last part of the review studies the successful learning
strategies, and presents a comprehensive teacher guide for planning successful
IBL lessons and activities using these effective strategies. The study compares the
effectiveness of IBL in one class with that of another class studying the same
lesson but using traditional methodologies.

What is Inquiry-Based Learning?

2.1.1 Definition and history of learning.
One of the most valuable sources in the domain of learning psychology and

how the brain works during the learning process is Patricia Wolfes book: Brain
matters. After reading this book, I came up with the conclusion that as teachers,
when we plan our curriculum, we need to ask ourselves questions such as: What
are the big ideas or concepts of this lesson? What is the lifelong benefit of what
Im teaching? How will students be able to use what they are learning today in
their future lives?
Usually, classroom instruction and activities focus mainly on facts and details. It


is true that specific and detailed information are important, but their significance
is limited by how useful they are. More important are enduring knowledge
concepts. Such concepts are broad truths that are universally valid, even with
changes in times and cultures. They have direct applications to students real lives
inside and outside the classroom. Examples include change, patterns,
interdependence, systems, and power. (Wolfe, 2010, p. 162)
From researches done on the brain, we understand that the brain is a patternseeking device continuously searching for meaning. Learning is the acquisition of
mental encoding systems to enable us to use what we understand. The most
efficient curriculum is the one that makes clear for teacher and student what the
concepts to be learned are and how understanding would be used in real life
(Olsen, 1995, p. 5)
Learning is a process of building neural networks. Over a lifetime, we construct
networks in our brains cortex that contain information about an unbelievably
huge variety of concepts. Throughout our lifetime, our brain networks expand or
are pruned depending on our experiences. (Wolfe, 2010, p. 163)
Three Levels of Learning
Our networks are originally formed through our experiences. We learn some
things by experiencing them concretely, others symbolically, and still others in
abstract terms. There are three levels of learning.
Concrete Experience
The first exposure to a concrete experience is stored in our brain as an actual
physiological connection between neurons. If, on subsequent exposures, we




encounter this same experience again, the connection will be strengthened, and we
will learn what this experience is. Learning isnt this simple, because there are a
huge variety of classes of information, knowledge and concepts. All this
information will be incorporated into previously constructed networks. With
repeated experiences, these networks become stronger. The more they are
activated the stronger they become. (Wolfe, 2010, p. 166- 167)
Symbolic or Representational Learning
Using symbols or representations of real objects is a second level of
learning that is directly related to concrete experiences. Our brains make the
strongest links through concrete experience, but we are not limited to this way of
learning. Without a concrete experience, the representation or symbol may have
little meaning. This is certainly true in schools, where students are often exposed
to representational information that has no concrete previous exposure. Textbooks
are filled with pictures of scientific experiments, photographs of people in other
communities, diagrams of digestive systems, and other such symbols or
representations of real things. Though they are visually attractive, they do not
bring to the students minds the rich sensory information of a concrete experience.
Wolfes opinion supports the importance of teaching our students through
exposing them to real experiences, without which the brain involvement in
learning is minimal or temporary.
Abstract Learning
The third level of learning uses only abstract information, mainly words and
numbers. We do this by reading or having someone give a description. With a



strong neural network formed by concrete experience and symbols, it is possible

to read or hear then see in your minds eye that is to say, in your imagination.
Many abstract concepts, such as democracy or culture, have no concrete picture
corresponding item. Understanding these terms will depend on the students
developmental age and on the teachers ability to make abstract concepts
understandable with sufficient examples that relate to the students experiences.
When learning starts by direct experiences the neural networks constructed can
reach the third level (abstract learning) easily, thus the learning becomes deeper.
History of learning theories based on inquiry
Learning theories based on inquiry evolved starting from John Dewey until
the description of Inquiry Based Learning in the current National Research
Council report of science standards. This evolution was evident in Lloyd H.
Barrows article: from Dewey to Standards, published in 2006.
According to Burrow, the interpretation of inquiry has changed during the
20th Century. Websters Third International Dictionary (1986) defines inquiry
is an act or an instance of seeking for truth, information, or knowledge;
investigation; research; or a question or query (p. 1167), while the root word
inquire means to ask for information about, to make an investigation or search, to
seek information or questioning. In the field of science education there is a lack
of agreement on the meaning of inquiry. Some educators interpret inquiry as a
teaching strategy and a set of individual student skills. Others identified a third
component of inquiry, which is knowledge about inquiry. Among the different
definitions of inquiry one can list: encouraging inquisitiveness, a teaching strategy



for motivating learning, hands and minds-on activities, manipulating materials to

study particular phenomena, and stimulating questioning by students. An inquiry
is considered complete when we should know something we did not know before
we started.
The inclusion of inquiry into K12 science curriculum was recommended by
the former science teacher John Dewey (1910). Dewey considered that teachers
focused more on facts than on science for thinking and an attitude of the mind.
Dewey encouraged science teachers to use inquiry as a teaching strategy in which
the scientific method was rigid and consisted of the six steps: asking questions,
clarifying the problem, formulating a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis, revising
with rigorous tests, and acting on the solution. In Deweys model, the student is
actively involved, and the teacher acts as a facilitator. In 1916, Dewey had
encouraged students to add to their personal knowledge of science. To accomplish
that, students must choose problems to address and apply their knowledge to what
they observe. Deweys model was the basis for the Commission on Secondary
School Curriculum (1937) responsible for Science Curriculum in Secondary
Education. Later on, Dewey (1944) modified his earlier interpretation of the
scientific method to accomplish his goal of reflective thinking: presentation of the
problem, formation of a hypothesis, collecting data during the experiment, and
formulation of a conclusion. According to Dewey (1938), problems to be studied
must be related to students experiences and within their intellectual capability;
therefore, the students are to be active learners in their searching for answers.



Joseph Schwab (1966) believed that students should view science as a series
of conceptual structures that should be continually revised when new information
or evidence is discovered. Earlier, Schwab (1960) had described two types of
inquiry: stable (growing body of knowledge) and fluid (invention of new
conceptual structures that revolutionize science). Schwab considered that science
should be taught in a way that is consistent with the way modern science operates.
He also encouraged teachers to use the laboratory to assist students in their study
of science concepts. He recommended that subjects be taught in an inquiry format.
Besides using laboratory investigation to study science concepts, students could
use and read reports or books about research.
The National Research Council (NRC) developed a framework for inquirybased learning based on the above mentioned strategies; in my opinion the
framework still needs to be more specific and more organized.
Scientific inquiry is characterized in the National Science Education
Standards document (NRC, 1996, p. 23) as: A multifaceted activity that involves
observation; posing questions; examining books and other sources of information
to see what is already known; planning investigations; reviewing what is already
known in light of experimental evidence; using tools to gather, analyze, and
interpret data; proposing answers, explanations, and predictions; and
communicating the results.
Essential features of inquiry, regardless of grade level:
Learners are engaged by using scientifically oriented questions.
Learners collect evidence and data to develop and evaluate their explanations



to the scientifically oriented questions;

Learners develop explanations from their collected evidence to address the
scientifically oriented questions;
Learners evaluate their explanations, which can include alternative
explanations that reflect scientific understanding; and
Communication and justification of their proposed explanations.
These essential features introduce students to many important aspects of science
while helping them develop a clearer and deeper knowledge of ... science concepts
and processes.(NRC, 1996, 2000) When students practice inquiry, it helps them
develop critical thinking abilities and scientific reasoning, while developing a
deeper understanding of science (NRC, 2000).
The second domain of inquiry is the understanding about inquiry so students
will develop meaning about science and how scientists work. This document
represents the first step in setting an organized practical framework for IBL.

2.1.2 Understanding understanding.

In a trial to ensure that IBL will help learners reach the same degree of
understanding as concept-based learning, I tried to gather information about
understanding and what it actually means. The most concise explanation was that
of Jay Wiggins in his book: Understanding by Design (2005). As a verb, to
understand a topic or subject is to be able to use (or apply, in Blooms sense)
knowledge and skill wisely and effectively. An understanding, as a noun, is the
successful result of trying to understandthe resultant grasp of an unobvious



idea, an inference that makes meaning of many discrete (and perhaps seemingly
insignificant) elements of knowledge. Teachers knowingly aim for understanding
every day, yet plenty of evidence suggests that to understand and to teach for
understanding are ambiguous and slippery terms. An understanding is a mental
construct, an abstraction made by the human mind to make sense of many distinct
pieces of knowledge. Understanding is the ability to transfer our knowledge and
skill effectively, the capacity to take what we know and use it creatively, flexibly,
fluently, in different settings or problems, on our own. The challenge is not to
plug in what was learned, from memory, but to modify, adjust, and adapt an
(inherently general) idea to the particulars of a situation. Knowledge and skill,
then, are necessary elements of understanding, but not sufficient in themselves.
Understanding requires more: the ability to thoughtfully and actively do the
work with discernment, as well as the ability to self-assess, justify, and critique
such doings. Understanding involves figuring out which knowledge and skill
matters here and often adapting what we know to address the challenge at hand.
How should educational objectives or teachers goals be measured?
When students understand, then they can provide evidence of their understanding
by showing that they know and can do certain specific things: lesson objectives.
(Wiggins 2005. P. 35) Benjamin Bloom and his colleagues aimed to classify and
clarify the range of possible intellectual objectives, from the cognitively easy to
the difficult; it was meant to classify the different levels of understanding. (Bloom
1956) Understanding thus involves meeting a challenge for thought. We encounter
a mental problem, an experience with puzzling or no meaning. We use judgment


to draw upon our repertoire of skill and knowledge to solve it. As Bloom (1956)
put it, understanding is the ability to marshal skills and facts wisely and
appropriately, through effective application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
Doing something correctly, therefore, is not, by itself, evidence of understanding. It might have been an accident or done by rote. To understand is to have
done it in the right way, often reflected in being able to explain why a particular
skill, approach, or body of knowledge is or is not appropriate in a particular

2.1.3 The six facets of understanding.

Because of the complexity of the issue, it makes sense to identify the different aspects
of understanding. When a person truly understands, he can:
Explainby providing justified and systematic accounts of phenomena, facts,
and data; make insightful connections and provide illuminating examples.
Interprettell meaningful stories; offer concise translations; provide a
revealing historical or personal dimension to ideas and events; make the
object of understanding personal or accessible through images, anecdotes,
analogies, and models.
Applyeffectively use and adapt what we know in diverse and real contexts.
Have perspectivesee and hear points of view through critical eyes and ears.
Empathizefind value in what others might find odd, alien, or
implausible; perceive sensitively on the basis of prior direct experience.
Have self-knowledgeperceive the personal learning style, and habits of



mind that both shape and impede our own understanding. (Wiggins 2005. P.
These facets are ways of transfer (understanding) ability. We use these different but
related facets for assessing the degree of understanding in the same way that we use varied
criteria for assessing a single, complex performance. From this thorough explanation of
understanding, one can conclude that understanding is best measured by the capacity of the
learner to transfer his knowledge, or present and explain his findings through inquiry.

2.1.4 IBL and PBL.

I believe that one of the most significant goals of the teacher is to develop the
learners intelligences. The relationship between learning, intelligence and inquiry as a
way of teaching, and how to measure each item is clearly described in John Santrocks
book: Child Development (2010). He clarified that some psychologists describe
intelligence as the ability to solve problems, others describe it as the ability to learn from
experience, others argue that intelligence includes traits of creativity and interpersonal
skills. The best way to evaluate intelligence is by indirectly studying and comparing
different peoples performance. Individual differences in intelligence have been measured
by intelligence tests.
In Binets tests, an individuals mental age (level of mental development relative to
others, determined by a 30 question test) divided by the chronological age multiplied by
100 provides the individuals IQ, as created by William Stern. The final revisions of IQ
tests (Stanford-Binet) analyses verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, abstract visual
reasoning, and short term memory.




The Wechsler Scales represent another widely used set of tests assessing intelligence.
They provide an overall IQ score, in addition to several other indexes including the Verbal
Comprehension Index, The Working Memory Index, and the Processing Speed Index.
During testing, the psychologist observes some behavioral factors affecting the childs
performance, such as anxiety, enthusiasm and tolerance of frustration. It is agreed upon
that IQ scores provide a generalized idea about the individuals intelligence, but other
factors must be taken into consideration such as the developmental history, medical
records, social competence and performance in schools. (Santrock, 2010) These are factors
directly affected and developed by IBL.
According to Sternbergs Triarchic Theory of Intelligence, intelligence comes in three
Analytical Intelligence: The ability to analyze, judge, evaluate, compare.
Creative intelligence: The ability to create, design, invent, imagine.
Practical Intelligence: the ability to use, apply, implement. (Santrock 2010)
All strategies used in IBL focus on these three areas of intelligence, and help in
stimulating and developing student skills in these areas. This conforms to the role of
education in providing creative successful citizens. Students high in creative intelligence
or practical intelligence often do not relate well to traditional teaching strategies, but they
do well outside the classroom. Their social skills can allow them to become successful in
life, despite their poor academic achievement. Sternberg argues that it is essential for
classroom instruction to provide students enough opportunities to learn through these
types of intelligence.


Considering Howard Gardners theory of Multiple Intelligence, the main goal of

education is to allow students to discover their natural curiosity and talent, and then let
them explore these domains. The teachers role is to create opportunities for students to
use their multiple intelligences. Even students, who are not outstanding in traditional
instructional strategies, will find their strengths through these opportunities. (Santrock
2010) Using IBL strategies, we can easily provide our students with such opportunities.
2.1.5 Teaching for understanding. (with the end in mind)
Measuring the effectiveness of IBL on student learning must be the teachers main
concern, in order to find the answer for this question: What are the Effective strategies in
IBL? As explained by Wiggins (2005), teaching can be evaluated by its results. Teaching,
on its own, never causes learning. Successful attempts by the learner to learn only cause
learning. Achievement is the result of the learner successfully making sense of the
teaching. Understanding is a constructivist exercise accomplished by the learner. A
teacher cant give learners understanding; learners must earn it.
Teaching well does not depend on the use of a great set of techniques or giving the
learner some words to give back, but it occurs by causing understanding through words,
activities, tools, guided reflection, the learners efforts, and feedback. It is a complex
interactive achievement, not a one-way set of skills. Only experts (or highly gifted
thinkers) can hear a teachers words and do all the constructivist work in their heads, on
their own, without experiences, process guidance and tools (such as graphic organizers),
tasks for eliciting responses, and feedback in their attempts to show that their learning
has been successful. Teaching by mentioning simply cannot yield effective learning
culminating in competent performance. (Wiggins 2005)




An understanding sets an end goal, a challenge; it demands the right experiences,

discussion, and reflection. No one stated this challenge more baldly than Dewey (1916),
when he argued that no genuine idea can be taught by direct instruction:
No thought, no idea can possibly be conveyed as an idea from one person to
another. When it is told, it is, to the one to whom it is told, another given fact, not
an idea. . . . Ideas . . . are tested by the operation of acting upon them. They are to
guide and organize further observations, recollections, and experiments. (Wiggins,
2005, p. 230)
Like an encyclopedia, few textbooks help students understand the inquiries, arguments,
and judgments behind the summaries. The great paradox of educating for understanding is
that extensively researched texts can end up providing an obstacle to more engaging and
thought-provoking learning. As the 1983 Carnegie report on secondary education put it,
Most textbooks present students with a highly simplified view of reality
and practically no insight into the methods by which the information has
been gathered and the facts distilled. Moreover, textbooks seldom
communicate to students the richness and excitement of original work.
(Wiggins, 2005, p. 230)
A true problem is encountered if the teacher assumes that the textbook is the course of
study, from which the design of all work must flow. On the contrary: The text is a resource
that supports the Desired Results or the learning expectations. Even the best textbook will
be useful in achieving only some of the desired results, and many goals will require
teacher-designers to be proactive and creative in identifying appropriate essential
questions, assessments, and experiences to frame the units. Those questions, tasks, and



activities may, in fact, routinely require teachers to supplement the text or read selectively
in it, as needed. The textbook is a guidebook in support of a purposeful journey.
The text is a tool; it is not the syllabus. The big ideas have to be uncovered and made
meaningful by intelligent use of many resources and activities. Thus, the teachers job is
not to cover what the textbook offers but to use the text to assist in meeting learning goals.
Understandings have to be earned through carefully designed experiences that uncover
the possible meanings of core content: Inquiry is one of the best examples. (Wiggins,
2005, p. 231)
Dewey (1933) provides a simple illustration in contrasting what he calls the fact versus
the students meaningful idea, generated through a well-designed experience. Ideas, then,
are not genuine ideas unless they are tools with which to search for material to solve a
problem. . . . Much of what we call expert knowledge is the result of trial and error,
inquiry, and argument. Yet, as noted above, when we teach only from textbooks (without active inquiry into the textbooks claims), students are easily misled into believing
that knowledge is somehow just there for the plucking. To truly understand a subject,
however, requires uncovering the key problems, issues, questions, and arguments behind
the knowledge claims. The work itself must gradually inspire a clear need to question, to
dig deeper into key claims. In other words, although sometimes the text usefully simplifies
and we accept its knowledge happily, when it oversimplifies a big idea, we have to
question the text. The best teacher-designers design lessons to deliberately and explicitly
require their students to find issues, problems, gaps, perplexing questions, and
inconsistencies that were hidden in earlier and present accounts. Thus we can say that
embedding inquiry in our teaching strategies ensures understanding, with all its facets.



2.1.6 Introduction to inquiry-based learning.

"If you are doing most of the talking, your students are doing very little learning."
Justin Tarte.
Now we need to have a closer look at IBL, studies defining and describing it, types of
IBL, and how to use IBL as effective 21st century teaching strategies. We all agree that the
model of education typical of the 20th century classrooms was effective for that era of
history, but the knowledge society we now live in requires new thinking about what
constitutes effective and engaging teaching and learning.
The strength of an inquiry-based strategy of teaching and learning is its capacity to
increase intellectual engagement and stimulate deep understanding through the setting of a
hands-on, minds-on and research-based framework of teaching and learning. Inquiry
fosters the complicated interconnected nature of knowledge construction, aiming to create
opportunities for both teachers and students to collaboratively construct, test and reflect on
their learning.
Inquiry is a general term that includes a number of other teaching and learning
approaches. It is described by Neil Stephenson, in his website: Introduction to IBL.
Teaching practices in inquiry learning include:
1. Problem-based learning: learning that starts with an ill-structured problem or casestudy.
2. Project-based learning: students create a project or presentation as a demonstration of
their understanding.
3. Design-based learning: learning through the working design of a solution to a
complex problem.



IBL is based on constructivist learning theories where understanding is built through

the active involvement and development of conceptual mental frameworks by the learner.
Inquiry stresses on the process of learning in order to develop deep understanding in
students in addition to the intended acquisition of content knowledge and skills.
There are three key implications for effective IBL instructional practices:
1. Teaching practices must extend and work with students preexisting understandings
and make student thinking central to the learning.
2. Instructional activities should be designed to develop understanding through in-depth
study of curriculum topics.
3. Teachers must embed opportunities for students to define learning goals and monitor
their own understanding into designed student performance tasks connected to the
disciplines, to their students lives, and to the world, while focused toward clear and
achievable learning targets. (Stephenson 2014)
2.2 Inquiry-Based Learning and Education Reform
2.2.2 Inquiry in student centered learning.
In a deeper insight into education reform today and how to make use of globalization,
internationalization and the knowledge booming, IBL represents a true revolution in
education. In his book: The Art and Science of Teaching, Robert Marzano emphasizes
the importance of helping students generate and test hypotheses about new knowledge,
which is actually the basis of inquiry and IBL. He stated that if the teacher wishes to
move students beyond the levels of declarative and procedural knowledge, students should
be engaged in tasks that require them to experiment with the new knowledge. A single



assignment can have a group component and an individual component to encourage

students reflection on their own learning. While working on a unit, students are given
several opportunities to meet as a group, to collect data and organize the data. This
educational step is based on organization and restructuring of knowledge described by
Piaget as accommodation. This involves tasks asking students to question their knowledge.
(Marzano, 2007, p. 87)
Generating and testing hypotheses is in the heart of PBL, one of the three main types
of IBL. The starting point for learning is a problem or a query that the learner wants to
solve. Making predictions and trying to prove or disprove those predictions is a powerful
learning experience for students.
Marzano observed several studies examining the effect of various activities on
changing knowledge in science: simply activating prior knowledge had little effect,
activities involving knowledge discrepancies between students beliefs and presented
knowledge had the biggest effect, and discussions regarding a central question had
intermediate effects. Marzano has set specific action steps that can be easily followed by
teachers to help students generate and test hypotheses:
Step 1: Teach Students about Effective Support: Start by providing students with enough
support for the claim (ground), then ask students to explain and discuss these supports
(backing), and finally identify exceptions to the claims (qualifiers).
Step 2: Engage students in Experimental Inquiry Tasks to Generate and test Hypotheses:
Set up a situation in which students can observe some physical or behavioral phenomena
or present such observations, then ask students to generate hypotheses to explain these
observations. The students then collect data that allow them to test their hypotheses, and



now they present their findings and whether it supported the hypothesis or not. Finally the
students are asked to provide their reflections about what they learned.
Step 3: Engage Students in Problem-Solving Tasks That Require Them to Generate and
Test Hypotheses: students are challenged to determine what must be done differently
given an unusual context. Prior to engaging in a problem-solving task, students predict
how this new context will affect the situation. After the problem-solving task is completed,
students restate their prediction and report their conclusion.
Step 4: Engage Students in Decision-Making Tasks That Require Them to Generate and
Test Hypotheses. This requires students to select among equally appealing alternatives.
The first step in designing a decision-making task is to identify or have students identify
the alternatives to be considered. The next step is addressing the criteria by which the
alternatives will be judged. Students can also generate the criteria or provide some criteria
for students and have them generate some on their own. Students must contrast their initial
predictions with the actual outcomes of the activity.
Step 5: Engage Students in Investigation Tasks That Require Them to Generate and Test
Hypotheses. Investigation is the process of testing hypotheses about past, present, or future
events. The first step in designing an investigation task is to clearly identify the event to be
explained. Next, students are asked to make their initial predictions regarding these
questions. Students search for information about the topic, and finally they compare their
findings with their prediction and present their conclusion.
Step 6: Have Students Design Their Own Tasks: give them the chance to select the type of
the task: inquiry, experiment, problem, decision-makingetc.



Step 7: Consider the Extent to Which Cooperative Learning Structures Will Be Used
(Marzano, 2007, p. 86-97)
Following Marzanos planning model for helping students generate and test hypotheses
represents a cornerstone in designing curricula that ensure the implementation of effective
IBL strategies.

2.2.3 Why using essential questions?

Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.
- Josef Albers (1888-1976).
The missing step is how to link learning standards to inquiry activities. This can easily
be done by using essential questions. Educational plans are more effective when framed
by questions. As described by Jay Mc Tighe and Grant Wiggins in their book essential
questions (2013) Essential questions highlight that inquiry is a key goal in education,
make the unit more intellectually engaging, help to clarify standards for teachers, provide
transparency for students, provide opportunities for cross-disciplinary connections, and
support effective differentiated instruction. (p. 28-30)
A key long-term goal for education is to make students better questioners, so that at
the end they achieve meaningful learning and intellectual capabilities. Understanding can
be deepened by continuous questioning, and learners are engaged in constructing meaning
on their own. Teachers must use thought provoking questions to enable students to (1)
actively pursue an inquiry, and unsatisfied by superficial answers. (2) Learn content
through their journey of inquiry. (McTighes 2013)



2.2.4 Inquiry in STEM Education and its role in education reform.

"If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our students of tomorrow."
John Dewey
Rodger Bybee clearly described education for the 21st century education. He proposed
a model for STEM (Science Technology, Engineering Mathematics) education, within
which teaching science as inquiry and engineering as design directly addresses the
enhancement of problem solving abilities. (Bybee 2013) Learning outcomes that are
focused on in many science programs are those that are easiest to teach and assess and are
no longer sufficient to prepare students for the 21st-century. The main goal of education
today must be to develop in our students the skills required by the 21st century workforce.
Increases have occurred in the demand for expert thinking, which involves solving unusual
problems for which there are no specified solutions. Examples include diagnosing a
patient with unique symptoms or repairing a car that does not run well but for which the
computer report indicates no problem. These problems require what is referred to as pure
pattern recognitioninformation processing that cannot yet be programmed on a
computer, yet computers can complement human skills by making information more
readily available. A rigorous education in science can help prepare students for good jobs,
even if they never become scientists or engineers as they provide the students with the
critical-thinking, problem-solving, and communications skills they need to do these jobs.
The education that was effective in the 1970s has remained in place while the workplace
has changed dramatically. In the early years of the 21st century, there is a dramatic gap
between the abilities of graduating high school seniors and the skills valued by 21st century


employers. These skills include the ability to solve semi-structured problems where
hypotheses must be formed and tested.
Bybee explained that Inquiry shifts the focus of education to cognitive abilities such
as reasoning with data, constructing an argument, and making a logically coherent
explanation. On the most basic level, inquiry refers to the process of doing science.
Inquiry-based Learning engages students in the investigative nature of science. Using
inquiry to teach science helps students put materials into context fosters critical thinking,
engages students more fully, resulting in positive attitudes toward science (Kyle et al.
1985; Rakow 1986); and improves communication skills (Rodriguez and Bethel 1983).
Science programs will allow learners to apply their knowledge to scientific questions
and technological problems, identify the scientific components of a contemporary topic,
and use reasoning to link evidence to an explanation. In scientific investigations, learners
will be required to reflect on the answer to a scientific question or a technological solution
to a problem. Students may be required to think of another investigation or another way to
gather data and connect those data with the extant body of scientific knowledge. Specific
examples include the following:

Identify questions that can be answered through scientific investigations.

Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence.

Think critically and logically to make the relationship between evidence and

Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and predictions. (Bybee, 2010)




2.2.5 How is STEM Education reform different from other education reforms?
As described by Bybee, what makes a STEM reform different is contained in four

Targeting global challenges that all citizens must understand.

Changing perceptions of environmental problems, and other associated issues.

Recognizing the skills required for the 21st century workforce.

National security issues. (Bybee, 2013, P.33)

2.2.6 Learning outcomes of inquiry-based learning.

In their action research project on Learning Outcomes in a Revised Inquiry-Based
Science Lesson, Mahsa Kazempour & Aidin Amirshokoohiheir stated that the researchers
responses and reflections, which were based on the evidence they had collected or the
discussions that occurred throughout the lesson, indicated an in-depth understanding of the
concept that they taught using IBL strategies. More importantly, they had gained a better
understanding of the nature of science and scientific inquiry through their own experiences
in this lesson. In their research they were interested in students learning experiences that
generated such learning outcomes. Since the process of scientific inquiry and students
conceptual knowledge are socially constructed, the researchers focused on better
understanding of the often-neglected dynamics of the social learning process and students
experiences and interactions in this kind of learning environment. The data analysis of this
learning experience showed a high level of student engagement in the lesson. Throughout
the lesson, they were actively involved in performing the initial tasks, making
observations, determining and discussing trends within their data, and collaborating and



communicating their findings. In a trial to find ways to improve their IB lesson, the
researchers felt that the lesson should be more cyclical using scientific inquiry and the 5E
learning cycle model. The BSCE 5E Instructional Model is an effective way to engage
students in learning. Developed in the 1980s, the 5E Model consists of five phases:
engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration, and evaluation. Each phase has a
specific function and contributes to the teachers coherent instruction and to the learners
formulation of a better understanding of scientific concepts. Students construction of
knowledge can be assisted by using sequences of lessons designed to challenge current
conceptions and provide time and opportunities for reconstruction to occur.

Engagement - students prior knowledge accessed and interest engaged in the


Exploration - students participate in an activity that facilitates conceptual change

Explanation - students generate an explanation of the phenomenon

Elaboration - students' understanding of the phenomenon challenged and deepened

through new experiences

Evaluation - students assess their understanding of the phenomenon

With this suggested approach, students would perform fewer tasks, to provide them

with the opportunity to discuss their observations and analyze their data, and then do
additional tests to collect more data and make additional conclusions. They also suggested
the incorporation of an additional explanation stage to allow students to examine more
online resources and texts, as well as interview scientists, to ascertain how the scientific
community has approached this task and the criteria they have developed. This would



allow students the opportunity to compare their experiences and conclusions with those of
the scientific community. (Kazempour, 2013)
2.3 Different Strategies of Inquiry-Based Learning. (Inquiry-Based Learning in action)
This part of the research describes the different strategies that can be used in IBL, with the
goal of providing a guide to teachers interested in transforming their curricula into IBL.
According to the NRC (1996, 2000), K12 teachers of science must know that
inquiry involves the cognitive abilities that their students must develop; an
understanding of methods used by scientists to search for answers for their
research questions; and a variety of teaching strategies that help students to learn
about scientific inquiry, develop their abilities of inquiry, and understand science
concepts. Also, the NRC (1996, 2000) acknowledged that not all science concepts
can or should be taught using inquiry. The fundamental abilities of inquiry
specified by the NRC (1996) for teachers and students are as follows:
1. Teachers identify questions and concepts that guide investigations, students
formulate a testable hypothesis and an appropriate design to be used;
2. Teachers design and conduct scientific investigations using major concepts,
proper equipment, safety precautions, use of technologies, students must use
evidence, apply logic, and construct an argument for their proposed
3. Teachers use appropriate technologies and mathematics to improve
investigations and communications;
4. Teachers formulate and revise scientific explanations and models using logic
and evidence, the students inquiry should result in an explanation or a


5. Teachers recognize and analyze alternative explanations and models
(reviewing current scientific understanding and evidence to determine which
explanation of the model is best);
6. Teachers communicate and defend a scientific argument; students should
refine their skills by presenting written and oral presentations that involve
responding appropriately to critical comments from peers.
Successful student-centered strategies of instruction involving inquiry
Successful teaching is teaching that brings about effective learning. The
decisive question is not what methods or procedures are employed, and
whether they are old-fashioned or modern, time-tested or experimental,
conventional or progressive. All such considerations may be important but
none of them is ultimate, for they have to do with means, not ends. The
ultimate criterion for success in teaching isresults! (James L. Mursell,
Successful Teaching,1946; Wiggins, 2010)

2.3.1 Involving students in real-life problem solving.

As mentioned before, according to Wolfe (2010), our strongest neural
networks are formed by real experience. We need to take advantage of this natural
inclination by involving students in schools in solving authentic problems in their
community. John Dewey contended that school should be less about preparation
for life and more like life itself (1937). Most school goals refer to developing
critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, which are often not dealt with in the




classroom. Most classrooms (especially at the secondary level) still depend on

lecturing as the chief mode of instruction. Even the problem-solving opportunities
given by teachers to students are hardly different than theoretical case studies with
orderly, convergent products. With a little more creativity, teachers will find real
problems in their schools and communities which may not be easy to solve because
of time limitations and deficient information. Struggling with these issues will
stimulate students critical thinking and will assist them to learn content.
Creative teachers have reported numerous ideas for problem solving using
community and school resources to help students make connections to the
meaning of what they are teaching. Many problems facing our communities can
be used to involve students in critical thinking and problem solving. Natural
habitat preservation, the spread of infectious diseases, anti-smoking campaigns,
quality of cafeteria food, global warming, and traffic congestion are some
examples. (Wolfe, 2010, p. 171-172)

2.3.2 Using projects to increase meaning and motivation.

Seeing busy students engaged in an activity is very satisfying when compared to
the passive activity of sitting and listening to the teacher talk. Projects and activities
are effective means of engaging students and increasing understanding. However, we
must be very cautious when deciding when and how to use them. Usually, we select
activities that seem to provide students with a lot of fun without putting into
consideration what we want our students to benefit from doing them. In addition to
the clear advantages of engaging students in authentic problem solving, teachers also



reported that it considerably enhanced students motivation, self-esteem and sense

of efficacy.

2.3.3 Using simulations and role plays to make meaning.

It is unrealistic to expect that all curriculum topics can be addressed through authentic
problem -solving and projects. At times, such activities are neither desirable nor feasible.
In these situations, simulations become useful teaching strategies. Simulations are not real
events, and they need to be carefully planned and processed for the full benefits to be
realized. To gain the most benefit from simulations, two basic rules can be considered.
First, make certain that you have a specific object or concept in mind to be addressed by
the activity. Second, spend sufficient time debriefing the simulation with students. They
often need guidance to compare and contrast a simulation with an actual event so they can
abstract the relevant general principles.
Remember that it is always best when students can tell the teacher what they have
learned rather than having the teacher tell them! To make the composition of an
element more meaningful, a science teacher took his class out to the football field and
divided them into three groups, representing protons, neutrons, and electrons. The students
who were neutrons stood up and made a big O with their hands; this represented a neutral
charge. The students representing protons became positive by making crosses with their
arms, and those representing electrons stood with their arms pointed front and back to
represent a negative charge. As the teacher called out the name of an element, the students
ran to the appropriate positions to simulate its composition.



Though simulations require additional planning and work on the part of the teacher,
they are an excellent way to increase meaning while being highly motivational and
stimulating the transfer of knowledge.
2.3.4 Helping students learn problem-solving strategies.
In his book Child Development, John Santrock explained that most children use several
strategies to solve problems. He added that most children benefit from generating a variety
of possible strategies and testing these different approaches to a problem reaching the most
suitable solution to a problem. Michael Pressley views that the key to education is helping
students develop a rich repertoire of strategies for solving problems. Practice is important,
as it enables students to use the strategies repeatedly, until they have it in their long term
memory. Children also need to be motivated to learn and to apply what they learn.
(Santrock, 2010) In our planning, we must consider teaching our students the various
strategies that they can use during the different types of assigned inquiry.

2.3.5 Successful strategies of instruction enhancing brain learning.

In her book Matching Instruction to How the Brain Learns Best. Patricia Wolfe
(2010) described several strategies that help students remember their understanding of
concepts. She has set criteria for the most powerful strategies that can increase retention,
understanding, and students abilities to apply the concepts they are learning summarized as

More elaborative information rehearsed at the moment of learning strengthens the


Using more modalities to rehearse establish more paths for retrieval of data.


Giving more real-life examples to increase understanding and remembering of


Linking information to previous learning. (Wolfe 2010)

2.3.6 Using visual and auditory senses to enhance learning.

Inquiry as a process involves the stimulation of most senses. When you search for
answers to essential questions you use mainly your visual and auditory senses. Humans
are intensely visual animals. Our eyes contain nearly 70 percent of the bodys sensory
receptors, and they send millions of signals per second along optic nerves to the visual
processing centers of the brain. It is not surprising, then, that the visual components of a
memory are so robust. Although each of us has the ability to process kinesthetic and
auditory information, we take in more information visually than through any of the other
senses. When you mentally see an image or hear a sound, you are reactivating or
reconstructing the neural pathways that were formed when you first experienced the
stimulus. These sensory abilities are powerful components of brain functioning, and we
can use them in the classroom to enhance our students understanding and retention of
information. This means that in designing IBL strategies, stimulation of visual and
auditory senses need to be considered. At the same time, inquiry as a process involves
visual and auditory stimulation, which is strong evidence supporting the use of IBL in all
subjects to promote memory and understanding. (Wolfe, 2010)
2.3.7 Writing and hands-on activities and learning.
Writing Strategies for Science
Although an understanding of scientific concepts is critical, the larger goal of science




instruction is to help students learn to think and act like scientists. Writing plays an
important role in the life of scientists because they must describe their hypotheses and
experimental designs in a precise manner, carefully document each step of their studies,
and accurately communicate their findings and conclusions to readers. At every grade
level, students can find many ways to clarify their thinking through writing. An important
part of being a scientist is asking questions. Students can find answers to their questions
from a variety of sources, but one of the most exciting is by direct communication with
actual scientists. The Internet provides convenient access to many scientists. Writing to an
actual scientist requires careful thought about what questions to ask and how to phrase
them. (Wolfe, 2010)
Writing is the most important communication skill that scientists must develop in
order to convey their scientific thinking. In IBL activities, teachers have the great
opportunity to assist their students in developing writing skills in using reflections,
journals, paper presentation of findings, and writing research papers.
2.4 Planning for Inquiry-Based Learning
There are essential criteria common in all inquiry activities, as well as other criteria
that vary in different inquiry activities. One of the main advantages of IBL is to ensure that
learners are interested in what they learn and are not bored. These criteria were clearly
summarized by Unity and Variety in the Inquiry-Based Approach

Unity: one essential feature of this type of education is not to instruct only the results
of science, but allow children to build up the knowledge desired by helping them
express their ideas, expose their reasoning, test their hypotheses and strive to be
exacting. This type of approach is built around the questions that students may raise



about the real world. It causes them to gain knowledge and know-how, as a result of
inquiry carried out by the students themselves, under their teachers guidance.

Variety in method: the inquiry performed by the students can be based on a range of
methods, possibly during the same session, such as: direct experimentation, item
production (building an object or model, looking for a technical solution), direct or
instrument-assisted observation (not a computer), document-based research,
investigation, production of a radio program or short film and a tour. The students do
not only observe: they can identify, classify, question, make projections and explain
the reasons for their choices, perform simulations, experiment where appropriate, and
record their observations for later summary. (Alabart, 2006)

2.4.1 Designing courses for significant learning.

The first step in planning for instruction is to design the course to be taught. In his
Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning, L. Dee Fink has set a 5 stage action
plan for designing integrated courses: The basic components of Integrated Course Design:
The first component in the model is gathering information about the Situational
Factors (e.g., how many students are in the course, what kind of prior knowledge are the
students bringing to the course about this subject, etc.). This information is used to make
three major decisions about the course. The first decision is about the Learning Goals, i.e.,
what you want students to gain out of the course. What is important for them to learn and
retain, 2-3 years after the course is over? What type of thinking or application capabilities
do you want them to develop? How do you want them to keep on learning after the
course is over?


Next are the decisions about Feedback and Assessment. The basic question here is:
What can students perform to prove they have achieved the Learning Goals we set for the
course? Then we need to structure the appropriate and necessary Teaching/Learning
Activities. Now we have significant learning goals and effective assessment procedures,
we only need to incorporate some kind of active learning into the course. And finally we
need to check our course design for Integration to make sure all the components are in
alignment and support each other.
This planning module can work very well using IBL, as we start by setting our
learning goals, formulating them into essential questions, then set the student performance
criteria and assessments, and accordingly design inquiry activities and performance tasks
through which students gain the required knowledge and skills for the set assessments.
(Fink 2003)

2.4.2 Instructional planning using different strategies

In their book: Classroom Instruction that Works, Dean et al. described nine successful
instructional strategies, then they explained the importance of planning units using these
strategies, which can be used also in designing IBL units. Using these strategies in IBL
will ensure effective teaching and learning, as proved by their research, in addition to
Robert Marzanos researches in Classroom Instruction That Works, 2000.
Planning instruction that involves these strategies is summarized as follows:
At The Beginning of a Unit of Instruction

Identify clear learning goals.

Allow students to identify and record personal learning goals.



After students identify their personal goals, students can be asked to do the following:

Share their goals with one another.

Set up a learning journal in which to write questions about a lesson, areas of

confusion, or assignments they are having difficulty completing.

During a Unit of Instruction

Teachers introduce knowledge:

Have students identify what they already know about the topic.

Provide students with ways of thinking about the topic in advance.

Have students make inferences about new knowledge.

Have students keep notes as knowledge is introduced.

Have students represent the knowledge in their notebooks in linguistic and

nonlinguistic ways.

Have students work in cooperative groups.

Have students identify similarities and differences between items.

Teachers review and help students practice and apply knowledge;

Assign homework that requires students to review, apply, and practice what they have

Engage students in projects that involve generating and testing hypotheses.

Have students revise the linguistic and nonlinguistic representations of knowledge in

their notebooks as they refine their understanding.

Students continually monitor how well they are progressing on identified learning

Provide students with feedback and help them assess their progress.




Provide recognition of legitimate progress toward goals. (Dean 2012, Marzano 2000)

As we can see, all these strategies can be used in IBL, centralizing our instructional
activities around the generation and testing of hypotheses, providing students with
supportive data, and sufficient self-evaluation tools and rubrics. All strategies mentioned
above aim to consolidate knowledge, stimulate higher thinking skills, and are assessed by
better achievement.

2.4.3 Planning with the end in mind.

The 3 stages of Backward Design: Similar strategies are described by Jay Wiggins
Understanding by design. Following Wiggins three stage design backwards can easily
provide effective IBL designs. The effectiveness of instructional designs is determined by
accomplishing explicit goals. In addition to national standards, we must also consider the
different needs of our many and varied students when designing learning experiences. For
example, diverse student interests, developmental levels, large classes, and previous
achievements must always guide our thinking about the learning activities, assignments,
and assessments. Our lessons, units, and courses should be logically inferred from the
results sought, not derived from the methods, books, and activities with which we are most
comfortable. Curriculum should lay out the most effective ways of achieving specific
results. The best designs derive backward from the learning expectations. This three-stage
approach to planning is called: backward design.

Stage 1: Identify desired results we consider our goals, examine established content
standards (national, state, district), and review curriculum expectations.



Stage 2: Determine acceptable evidence: collected assessment evidence needed to

document and validate that the desired learning has been achieved, not simply as
content to be covered or as a series of learning activities.

Stage 3: Plan learning experiences and instruction:

The knowledge, skills and activities that will enable students to perform effectively
and achieve desired results. What materials and resources are best suited to
accomplish these goals? (Wiggins, 2005)

2.4.4 Planning for learning

I hear, I forget.
I see, I remember.
I do, I understand.
-Chinese proverb
Before starting instructional designs, every teacher must ask himself the following
questions: Given the desired results and the targeted performances, what kinds of
instructional approaches, resources, and experiences are required to achieve these goals?
What do learners need, given the desired results? What is the best use of time spent in and
out of the classroom, given the performance goals?
Designers are especially encouraged to consider the ongoing use of assessment as a key to
improving learning. The instructional design must ensure that teachers as well as learners
get the feedback they need to rethink, revise, and refine.
A good plan for learning is one that is engaging and effective.


Engaging plan: The diverse learners find truly thought provoking, fascinating,
energizing. It must not be dry academic content, but interesting and relevant work,
intellectually compelling and meaningful. It should engage each of them in worthy
intellectual effort, centered on big ideas and important performance challenges.

Effective plan: the instructional design helps learners become more competent and
they end up performing to high standards and exceed the usual learning expectations.
They develop more skill and understanding, greater intellectual capabilities and selfreflection, as they reach expected goals.

2.4.5 Characteristics of a good (engaging and effective) instructional design.

Clear performance goals, based on a genuine and explicit challenge

Hands-on approach throughout; far less front-loaded teaching than typical.

Focus on interesting and important ideas, questions, issues, problems

Obvious real-world application, hence meaning for learners

Powerful feedback system, with opportunities to learn from trial and error

Personalized approach, with more than one way to do the major tasks, and room for
adapting the process and goal to different learning styles, interests, needs.

Clear models and modeling

Time set aside for focused reflection

Variety in methods, grouping, tasks.

Safe environment for taking risks.

Teacher role resembles that of a facilitator or coach.

More of an immersion experience than a typical classroom experience.



Big picture provided and clear throughout, with a transparent back-and- forth flow
between the parts and the whole.

Students must be able to answer the following questions with specificity as the unit
develops, based on activities and materials designed by the teacher:

What will I have to understand by units end, and what does that understanding look

What are my final obligations? What knowledge, skill, tasks, and questions must I
master to meet those obligations and demonstrate understanding and proficiency?

What resources are available to support my learning and performance?

What is my immediate task? How does it help me meet my overarching obligations?

How does todays work relate to what we did previously? What is most important
about this work?

How should I allot my time? What aspects of this and future assignments demand the
most attention? How should I plan? What should I do next? What has priority in the
overall scheme of things?

How will my final work be judged? Where is my current performance strongest and
weakest? What can I do to improve? (Wiggins, 2005)

2.4.6 Essential Questions: doorways to understanding.

IBL starts with essential questions. One of the main goals of IBL is to develop
questioner students who use their questioning to solve problems and find solutions. Good
planning for IBL must start with essential questions that raise student curiosity and
stimulate higher thinking skills. Good essential questions anchor students into the lesson




ensuring their engagement throughout their inquiry, and their achievement of better
understanding. Therefore the key part of the planning should be to create essential
questions that tie the learning expectations (learning goals) to successful student
performance in assessment that prove their acquisition of both declarative (content) and
procedural (skills) knowledge. (Wiggins, 2005, p.105)

2.4.7 How to create and use essential questions.

Creating essential questions (EQ) is an art. The main goal of EQs is to declare our
learning goals to our students in an engaging way. Thus, according to McTighes (2013)
EQs are better derived from our National or teaching standards. The most efficient way for
generating EQs is by unpacking standards.
EQ can also be derived from desired understandings: understandings are the insights,
inferences, or conclusions about the big ideas we hope our students attain by the end of
their inquiry. By repeatedly exploring essential questions, learners most probably come to
an understanding. This means that framing essential questions give meaning out of
abstract concepts.
Considering the six facets of understanding explained earlier: the capacity to explain,
interpret, apply, shift perspective, empathize, and self assess. The same facets used as
indicators for good understanding, are found useful in generating classroom questions by
McTighes (2013).
Essential questions can be generated also for teaching skills. Finally essential
questions must be revised aiming to broaden and generalize their scope.


2.4.8 Establishing a culture of inquiry in classrooms.

For inquiry to be effective, it has to become a mindset for our students. This can be
easily achieved by using IBL strategies in all subjects, as well as encouraging inquiry by
students at all levels.
Many years ago, John Dewey exclaimed the fact that children keep asking questions
outside the school, and they do not display any curiosity about school subjects. Although
there are factors outside the school responsible for their lack of motivation, yet the real
issue is the culture of the school. Many common classroom routines and teachers actions
undercut a culture of questioning. In his book Essential Questions Opening Doors to
Student Understanding, McTighes (2013) explores eight elements that can be controlled
by teachers to support a classroom culture of inquiry.
Element # 1: Nature of the Learning Goal. When understanding and critical thinking are
among our goals, our curriculum and assessments must reflect these outcomes. In other
words alignment of goals with teaching practices will shape students behavior and
attitudes. (p. 108)
Element # 2: The Role of Questions, Teachers and Students. Three shifts of roles must
occur: (1) the question has to become more important than the answer. (2) The teacher
becomes a facilitator and a co-inquirer. (3) Students become their own teachers, with an
increased responsibility of self progress and learning.
Element # 3: Explicit Protocols and Codes of Conduct that encourage the culture of
Element # 4: Safe and Supportive Environment. Students must be encouraged to take risk
in the classroom, and never feel afraid to look stupid by questioning. (p. 115)




Element # 5: Use of Space and Physical Resources.

Element # 6: Use of Time in and out of Class: Time should be suitably divided over the
different activities such as introducing the essential question, generating hypotheses,
collecting and analyzing data, reflection, reporting findings, and finally debriefing of
inquiry and discussion.
Element # 7: Use of Texts and Other Resources: The textbook must be thought of as a
resource and not a curriculum. Teachers must supply their students with additional
resources and tools for getting resources.
Element # 8: Assessment Practices We measure what we value Providing students with
regular feedback about their progress, and ensuring that a part of their grade is on the
development of the student as a questioner are two main ways that assist in aligning goals
to practices.
(McTighes, 2013, p. 126)

2.4.9 Establishing a culture of inquiry in schools.

For further expansion of the culture of inquiry beyond the classroom, using essential
questions must be spread among staff and colleagues in schools. Creating a professional
learning community within the school and encouraging the use of essential questions must
be considered. It offers teachers opportunities for collaborative planning and friendly
criticism. Creating a peer review protocol applying reflective questions is another positive
aspect of using essential questions.
Action research is another robust form of professional inquiry. I personally discovered
the benefits of following the inquiry protocol in doing this research starting from the



selection of the topic, the setting of the focus question, to the gathering of information and
resources, analysis of collected data and presenting findings. Deeper understanding, higher
achievement, and long term learning are among the advantages of IBL. Yet simpler forms
of action research can be encouraged as a start for sustaining the culture of inquiry among
2.5 IBL Planning Guide
2.5.1 Assessment.
For any pedagogy-of-inquiry assessment tool to be effective, it must be based upon a
widely accepted view of what appropriate inquiry teaching is, and how guided inquiry
contrasts with other approaches across a spectrum from direct instruction to open
discovery. We use the view of inquiry presented in two documents that have gained
broad national acceptance, viz. National Science Education Standards (1996) and Science
for all Americans (1990), and have developed a set of Inquiry-Item-Criteria to guide item
development and evaluation. In abbreviated form, the criteria specify that inquirybased
science instruction proceeds such that learners: a) engage in scientifically oriented
questions and explorations, b) give priority to evidence in addressing questions, c)
formulate explanations from investigation and evidence, d) connect explanations to
scientific knowledge, and e) communicate and justify models and explanations.

2.5.2 Brain compatible inquiry-based learning activities.

Brain-compatible instruction provides as much experiential learning as possible. We
generally learn best from concrete experiences. The more we give our students real-life
problems to solve, the more we involve them in hands-on activities, and the more the


modalities we involve in the learning, the more likely the information is to be conveyed,
understood, retained, and used in their real life builds on prior knowledge. The brain
seeks meaningful patterns. Every new experience causes the brain to search through its
already present networks to find a connection.
Start by finding out what students have already experienced in order to link new
learning to what your they already know and understand. Provide many opportunities for
students to revisit information over time. Recall that information is not consolidated the
instant it is processed. Learning occurs best when new information is added gradually
rather than being incorporated all at once. Retention is improved by spaced intervals of
Emphasize concepts over separate facts. In todays world information attacks
students at an overwhelming rate, and the facts are rapidly changing. Knowledge of
content and facts is not a strong indication of a well-educated person. Concepts that
generalize throughout time might be called enduring knowledgethat which was true
yesterday, is true today, and will be true tomorrow. It is only when we teach information
within the context of larger concepts that it becomes enduring knowledge that can be used
throughout the course of our students lives.
Assists students in understanding information and when and how that information is
used in the real world. Students often do well on tests by memorizing information they
do not understand. In all probability, though they will not be able to use that information
when they leave the class- room after the test. Whenever possible, give students real-life
problems to solve that use the concepts and skills they are learning.




Takes place in a safe psychological environment. Under perceived threat, the brain
does not operate well. Higher-level, rational thinking takes a back seat when the emotional
center of the brain is in control. Try to plan lessons that are rigorous but nonthreatening to
obtain the best effort and thinking of all students. (Wolfe, 2010, p.221)


3.1 Context
This action research project is a part of the Masters Degree Program requirements for the
College of Education at AIC. Its purpose is to compare student learning and understanding
in IBL and traditional science teaching, and to determine the most effective IBL teaching
strategies to guide teachers in planning Effective IBL programs.
It took place in three pairs of classes taking science courses that the author and two other
teachers taught at Dar El Tarbiah Schools in the High School American Diploma program.
The total number of students involved is 116 students. The first course is a basic Biology
course taught to grade 10 students by Dr. Mohab Megahed with 22 students in class 10 A
and 24 students in class 10 B. The second course is a basic chemistry course taught to
grade 11 students by Ms. Nardine Sameh with 18 students in class 11 A and 21 students in
class 11 B. The third course is an AP biology course taught by me, Dr. Nermine Abed to
grade 12 students with 16 students in class 12 A and 17 students in class 12 B. The total
number of students is 116.


3.2 Process
This study focused on comparing the effectiveness of Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL)
strategies to traditional student- centered concept-based learning strategies (CBL) used in
teaching the same lessons in each of the three grade levels, alternating IBL and CBL
between classes: A and B, aiming to analyze, compare and determine the most effective
IBL strategies.
Control Group
In grade 10: lesson one focused on the study of terrestrial biomes and it was part of a four
chapter unit on ecology. The traditional lesson focused only on the geographical
distribution and the climatic and biotic criteria of each biome. The one day lesson was a
typical teacher and textbook directed that began with a teacher made PowerPoint
presentation showing the differences between the different terrestrial biomes. In this
lesson the role of the students is to work in groups and fill in a table of the detailed
geographical distribution and various characteristics of each biome.
Lesson two described trophic levels and energy flow in ecosystems.
In grade 11: lesson one focused on oxidation and reduction reactions, and the differences
between them. The traditional lesson presented information to the students by the teacher,
followed by solving exercises on the topic.
Lesson two explains the basis of biochemistry
In grade 12: lesson one focused on Mendelian genetics and it was part of a six-chapter
unit on genetics, molecular genetics and DNA technology. The traditional lesson focused




only on genetic crosses and rules used in solving genetics problems reactions while
ignoring the concepts followed by Gregor Mendel to reach these rules.
Lesson two described the structure of DNA, and the processes of DNA replication,
transcription and translation.
Each one-day lesson was a typical teacher and textbook directed followed by another
lesson in which students discussed their assignments and had their quiz. We had
previously observed and were concerned that students: 1) followed rules and understood
concepts without paying attention to the real life application of these concepts and without
having any serious discussions as a team, 2) were uncertain about how to solve the
exercises, and 3) became frustrated and confused at the end of the lesson when they had to
answer a critical thinking question that was not directly answered in the lesson. By solving
the worksheets we assumed that students had completed the background reading,
understood the videos and the teachers presentation, and had full understanding of the
topic before beginning the activity. This created an environment in which students rushed
to simply complete the worksheets, record the necessary items on chart, and then struggle
with writing their concluding statements on what they had learned.
Intervention (Experimental Group)
As a science department, we brainstormed ways of intervention to transform the activities
into inquiry-based activities that would allow students to be actively involved in their
learning and utilize critical thinking skills to understand the concepts through exploration,
discussion, and application. We eliminated the textbook and teachers instructions that
required minimal thinking and developed a multi-stage lesson. Finally, in an effort to



allow students the opportunity to gain a deeper comprehension of the concepts, our
intervention consisted of organizing the focus of the lesson into three stages:
Stage 1: Students guided by the teacher as a facilitator discuss the essential questions and
possible student generated hypotheses.
Stage 2: Students perform inquiry-based performance tasks with the following goals:

Understanding the different basic definitions and key terms in the topic.

Analyzing and testing their possible hypotheses with reference to teacher provided
supportive resources, their textbooks and the internet.

Collaborating with peers discussing their findings, and modifying findings based on
shared evidence.

Stage 3: Students communicate their findings in a class discussion. (Wiggins, 2005)

The newly designed lesson for each class was developed as a two-day inquiry-based
lesson following the 5E learning cycle model (Bybee, 1997), a cyclical process of
engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration, and evaluation.
The lesson plans were finally evaluated based on the Matrix for Assessment and Planning
of Science Inquiry MAPSI (Grady, 2010). I used the MAPSI chart to determine if the
investigations were more or less student driven, and also to measure and validate the level
of complexity of each investigation. I also helped in monitoring how challenging the
implementation of inquiry based lessons was for students. If more challenging, this may
result in a decrease of completion of student work.
The modified lesson (intervention) began with an engage stage consisting of an
attention-grabbing video, presentation or activity displaying a general idea about the topic,
and raising students curiosity. Students were asked to record their observations, to list and



explain the main key terms (definitions) they understand from the video, and fill in a K.W.
L. form in order to discover our students prior knowledge on the topic; We then explained
that we were embarking on a lesson to explore this topic further and displayed the
following scenario on the screen:
You are a group of scientists from several centuries ago. You are interested in
exploring this new science topic. The scientific community at your time has a previous
understanding of the topic. Your task is to work as a team of scientists to refine this
information and come up with a clear explanation of the topic in their attempt to answer
the essential questions.
At this point, students were provided more resources. They began their study as a
team. While doing so, they used their individually devised charts to record and organize
their ideas and observations for each part. Upon completing this step, they began to
discuss and analyze their ideas, seeking patterns that could lead to possible criteria to
support their hypotheses. Once they had performed this crucial step, they were asked to
present their teams findings in a class discussion. They were given a rubric for the
evaluation of their findings, and each team was evaluated by the other teams. This was
followed by a class discussion of the topic. As a culminating activity, each team used the
refined list of criteria to evaluate their findings and their learning.
3.3 Data Collection
Where there is teaching, there should be assessment. The study did not only rely on
summative assessment, meaning testing that gives rise to grades and rankings, or a Scientific
Method Project that assesses the science skills acquired by the student at the end of the course.
It also relied on formative assessment, or tasks which help students learn and are not part of



testing and grading. The teacher should notice how the children make their observations;
express their predictions; explanations and experimental protocol; in order to gather information
about the extent to which a given concept has been grasped by the student, some of their skills,
etc. From that viewpoint, the experiment notebook can turn out to be a very valuable tool.
However, assessment can take place at any time, not only through the notebook. Therefore, we
used a methodological approach to evaluate the students learning experiences, their
understanding of the concepts, and the teachers role in the learning process. Data were
triangulated through a variety of qualitative data collection approaches including video
observation of the lesson, instructor reflections, and student reflections, in addition to the
traditional assessment (quiz) and Scientific Method project.
Table 1
Table 1: Data Triangulation

Focus Questions

Data 1

Data 2


1. Does IBL affect student

Student Interest



engagement and interest in

in Science





2. Does IBL affect students

Student Growth

Quizzes results


growth in Science

in Science

and evaluation

observations and

Knowledge and Science

Knowledge and

of the Scientific




Method Project

(Appendix B)

(Appendix E)

3. Which IBL strategies are

Student Science


Students scores

more effective in learning

Inquiry Survey


in the Scientific


(Appendix D)


Method Project
(Appendix E)



3.3.1 Quizzes
As described by Schuster et Al. (2007), the assessment tool needs to be readily
administered, easily scored, and reliable. Thus we have chosen an objective format with
variations. For the development of the instrument, every item is first written in three
different but related formats, viz.

Multiple choice (MC) questions. Stem with 4 or 5 response choices.


Ranked Response (RR). Variation requiring ranking of the response choices (Scriven,
1991; 1998)


Short-answer constructed response (CR). Students construct their own responses.

3.3.2 Scientific method project

Every student selects a problem, researches on the background of this problem, its causes,
its effects and the various solutions done by others. He then sets a hypothesis, and designs
an experiment that tests his hypothesis. Finally he experiments, collects data and evidence,
explains his results, and finally communicates his findings. This project evaluates student
knowledge gain about scientific inquiry as a process (Harland, 2011) following a rubric
given to the student before they begin the activity. (Appendix H)

3.3.3 Video Observations

A colleague videotaped the six sessions. Videos were watched and analyzed by the three
teachers, and we also added our comments regarding our reflections at the time the events
or conversations were taking place in the classroom. Next, we discussed and added our



reflections about students learning experiences, our instructional and communicative

strategies, and suggested instructional modifications in the following years.

3.3.4 Student Reflections

Each week, students were requested to write a brief summary in their biology/ chemistry
journal of the past weeks events in biology/ chemistry class. Student Biology/chemistry
Journals were read and monitored over time. Other artifacts (class work, lab work,
homework) were reviewed for completion and effort.
Students utilized their class journals to record their thoughts and experiences, including
possible disappointments and confusions throughout the lesson, and reflect on their
learning. They were also directed to add to their reflection a discussion of how the lesson
was reflective of the nature of science and scientific inquiry as discussed earlier in the

3.3.5 Teacher Reflections

Prior to the lesson, each teacher followed a detailed written lesson plan with all the
instructional strategies, expected results, goals for student learning and the teachers
precise role. After each day, we reflected individually on the implementation of the lesson,
our observations of student interactions and learning, and our interactions with the
students, and then we shared our reflections.

3.3.6 Student Surveys

Four surveys were done by students:


1. Interest in Science survey, before the experiment: to evaluate students interest in

science. (Appendix C)
2. Student Inquiry survey: to assess growth in students confidence in the inquiry process
before, during and after the intervention (Appendix B)
3. Student knowledge and skills gain after the inquiry: to assess students gain of
knowledge and science skills. (Appendix E)
4. Best Inquiry strategies survey: to determine the best IBL strategies that lead to deeper
understanding. (Appendix D)

3.3.7 Teacher Survey

It determines the degree of inquiry used in teaching, thus guiding teachers in planning for
effective IBL.




Data and Analysis

Aiming to increase student interest in science, deepen understanding and develop

science inquiry skills, the goal of this research was to provide a comprehensive guide for
science teachers to use IBL strategies through answering the three focus questions:

Does IBL affect student engagement and interest in Science?


Does IBL affect students growth in Science Knowledge and Science Skills?


Which IBL strategies are more effective in learning science?

The data collected were analyzed at three levels to align them with the focus questions:
Level I aimed to assess the students interest in science before and after the intervention
triangulating the student interest in Science survey results with the student reflections and
the teachers observation.
Level II aimed to measure the growth of students science knowledge and science inquiry
skills. The knowledge was measured by the students results in quizzes; the same quizzes
were given to the two sets of students. The quizzes of different grades were designed
following the same criteria. The growth in science inquiry skills was assessed by the
students scores in the Scientific Method Project following the rubric in Appendix H.
These results were triangulated with the students surveys (Appendix B and E) and
teachers class observations.
Level III aimed to determine the most effective IBL strategies, by analyzing the results of
the following students surveys: 1) IBL Effective Science Learning Strategies Survey
(Appendix D); 2) Student science skills survey (Appendix E) and 3) Post intervention
survey (Appendix F) with students scores in quizzes and Scientific Method projects, and
students and teachers reflections.



4.1 Level I
Comparing and assessing students interest in science before and after the intervention:
Data 1: Student interest in science survey before and after.
Data 2: Students journals (reflections)
Data 3: Teachers observations and video analysis.
Student Interest in Science survey measured the students motivation to work in the
science class (Appendix C1) before and after the intervention.
Before the intervention, survey results showed that about half of the students (47%) were
not motivated, 24% were not sure, and only 29% were motivated.
After the intervention 58% were motivated, 23% were not sure and only 19% were not
motivated (Figure 1). This proves the effectiveness of IBL in increasing student
motivation and interest in science.

Figure 1Percentage of Student Response to the Question: Are you excited and motivated to work in the science
class (N=116)

Similar trends are observed in students responses to their own abilities to do science in
classroom. Before the intervention 54% of the students were somewhat confident, 32%
were not confident, and only 16% were confident in their abilities.



After the intervention 54% were confident, 26% were somewhat confident and 12% were
not confident (Figure 2). This shows an increase in the percentage of students confident in
their science abilities,

Figure 2: Percentage of Student Response to the Question: How confident are you in your science skills and abilities?

Student Interest in Science Survey results show an increase in students interest in Lab
investigations and related activities (Figure 3)
Student responses to the Student Interest in Science Survey indicate that most students felt
they are well supported before the intervention and 38% only felt supported after the
intervention. Most of the students felt that they received adequate feedback in their science
classroom before and after the intervention, around half of the students felt rewarded and
the other half not rewarded before the intervention, while 80% felt rewarded after the


Figure 3 Percentage of Student Responses to the question: What kinds of activities do you enjoy in the Science

Figure 4 Percentage of Student Response to The Questions: Do you feel you have enough support in the Science
Class, Do you receive adequate feedback on Assignments, Do you feel you should be rewarded for completing
your Science Assignments to the best of your abilities

Data 2: Students journals (reflections)

The students in the experimental group were asked to write reflections on their science
learning and assignments, and to submit it on weekly basis. The majority of the students




reflections showed increased interest in science and increased motivation about their
science assignments:
I really enjoyed this activity Ahmed Farrag, 12S1
I liked this assignment, and it made me more interested to learning about genetics- Israa
AbdelRaouf, 12S1
This activity caused me to search more about terrestrial biomes, especially those in
Egypt-Nada Kholeif 10A
I started to see genetics in everything around me-Leila El Etrebi, 12S1
This is the first lesson I enjoy in chemistry this year - Mirna Abdel Wahab 11A.
This activity increased my interest in the science of DNA, and I think that it will be my
future field of study at the University - Yehia Amin 12S2
I started to love Biology more than all other subjects-Nada Yasser, 10B
I want to learn more about biochemistry -Hady El Shayeb, 11B
Data 3: Teachers observations and video analysis.
The three teachers were asked to write in-class observations while working with the
experimental groups, as well as the control groups. They used these observations and class
notes to analyze and compare student motivation and interest in science.
The recorded videos were watched to compare the two groups of students in their
engagement, motivation and interest in science. Student engagement, interest and
motivation were much more in our experimental groups, than in the control group.
I exerted less effort in engaging my students, and 100% of them were engaged
throughout the whole lesson - Nardeen Sameh
My students interest in science increased day after day-Mohab Megahed



Keeping my students engaged is a piece of cake: Start by asking an interesting essential

question and they will spend the whole period looking for the answer to this questionNermine Abed
Triangulation of data shows common trends in Data1; Data2 and Data3
4.2 Level II
This level of analysis aims to determine the difference in student acquisition of science
knowledge and development of science skills between IBL and traditional strategies.
Student knowledge acquisition is measured by the students scores in quizzes. Student
skills development is measured by the students scores in the Scientific Method Project.
Students self assessment in Inquiry Skills Survey responses and teacher observations
were used to triangulate the data.
Data 1: Students results in quizzes
Data 2: Students scores in the Scientific Method Project
Data 3: Students surveys (Appendix B and E) and Teachers observations.

Data 1: Students results in quizzes.

The quizzes scores were classified per objective, according to Blooms taxonomy
(Bloom, 1956) as follows:

Direct knowledge questions

Testing understanding questions

Indirect application to knowledge

Analysis and Interpretation of knowledge

Evaluation of knowledge




The quizzes results in the two groups: experimental and control groups after the
intervention were compared.

The results showed lower scores in the experimental group in direct knowledge (Control
Group92%; experimental Group 78%) , same level in the two groups in Understanding
(Control Group86%; experimental Group 84%), slightly higher level in Application of
knowledge (Control Group78%; experimental Group 87%) and increasing difference in
Analysis (Control Group58%; experimental Group 72%), Evaluation (Control Group30%;
experimental Group 73%) and Synthesis (Control Group16%; experimental Group
68%)(Figure 5). The lower scores obtained by students in the experimental group in the
questions based on direct knowledge than in the control group is due to the fact that this
knowledge is directly delivered by the teacher in the control group in the same way the
questions may be posed in the quiz. In the experimental group the students understand the
concept deeper, can apply it more, can analyze information, evaluate it and synthesize new
knowledge with their higher critical thinking and creative abilities. The correct answers of
these questions depend greatly on the students ability to memorize.



Figure 5 Students scores in quizzes in the Experimental Group (IBL) and the control group (traditional group)

Data 2: Students scores in the Scientific Method Project assessing student Science skills
(Appendix E):
The scores of the students in the two groups were compared, following the rubric, and
classified into the following skills:
Questions, Predictions, Hypothesis
Experimental Design
Scientific Investigation (Procedures)
Data Observation and Recording
Data organization and Interpretation
Responsibility, Initiative, Work Habits
The results showed generally higher scores in all developed skills in the experimental
group (IBL) than the control group (Traditional) with the greatest difference in
responsibility, initiative and work habits, Data analysis and Generating hypotheses.
(Figure 6)



Data 3: Students Inquiry Survey (Appendix B) and Teachers observations.

This survey was given to the students in the inquiry group before, during and after the
intervention. Students assessed their abilities in each of the inquiry skills as Highly
Confident (HC), Somewhat Confident (SC), and Not Confident (NC). (Figure 7)

Figure 6 Comparing Student Score in Science Skills in the Scientific Method Project



Table 2: Averaged data of the Student Inquiry Skills Survey Before, During and After the Intervention.

The students assessed their own abilities in each skill as HC, SC, or NC (N=116)
Identifying a Statement to Test
Designing an Investigation Procedure
Using the Investigation Plan
Collecting Data
Communicating Results
Researching on Scientific Knowledge
Extending Investigations































The student Inquiry survey consisted of 39 statements to which the students were asked to
respond by HC, SC, or NC. These statements were classified into nine stages of Inquiry.
Once all the responses were entered into the spreadsheet per student, and the results
averaged. The statements were categorized into nine stages of inquiry. These stages
included, exploring, questioning, identifying a statement to test, designing a procedure for
an investigation, using the investigative plan, collecting data for evidence, communicating



results of an investigation, researching for scientific knowledge related to investigation,

and extending investigations.
Analysis of student responses in the Student Inquiry Survey and a comparison of the
averaged 116 students responses in the survey before during and after the intervention
revealed clear growth of student confidence in their abilities in all nine stages, with a more
than 20% increase in researching abilities, communicating results and extending
investigations. These results highly support the effectiveness of IBL in developing student
skills, with a special focus on inquiry skills.
Teachers observations
All teachers recorded that day by day, students inquiry abilities increased, their confusion
decreased and they became surer in generating hypotheses, designing investigations,
testing hypotheses, making measurements, collecting and analyzing data, communicating
Students became more used to working in science investigations. Many students were
unable to think scientifically, to analyze scientific investigations, to determine variables, to
design experiments, now they can-Nardeen Sameh
Students science experiments are now much more organized Many weak students
data collection, recording, analysis and conclusions capabilities have improved-Mohab
Students ability to express their thoughts has improved Students rejection to search
for answer day by day decreased Many students who used to leave the critical thinking
questions unsolved are now challenged, and they answer them all correctly -Nermine



These observations were matched with the results of student Inquiry survey, as well as the
students scores in the quizzes. This triangulation of data supported the effectiveness of
IBL on increasing student knowledge acquisition, and improved their science skills.
4.3 Level III
Data 1: IBL Effective Science Learning Strategies Survey (Appendix D);
Data 2: Student science skills survey (Appendix E)
Data 3: Post intervention survey (Appendix F)
Data 1:
Effective Science IBL Strategies Survey (Appendix D)
Students were asked to complete an Effective IBL strategies survey. Data results indicated
student lab inquiry strategies most effective in terms of effective tools for learning and
motivation. Inquiry based student driven labs were found slightly more effective over the
teacher driven labs. (Figure 7)



Results of Student Survey on Inquiry and Non Inquiry Strategies

Figure 7 Results of Effective IBL Strategies Survey: Student ranking of 17 inquiry and non inquiry based
strategies used in class to study science. Students ranked the strategies numerically 1 to 17, lower percentages
represented strategies students found most effective.

Data 2:
Student Science Skills survey (Appendix E)
The results showed generally higher scores in all developed skills in the experimental
group (IBL) than the control group (Traditional) with the greatest difference in



responsibility, initiative and work habits, Data analysis and Generating hypotheses.
(Figure 6)
These results further support the effectiveness of specific IBL strategies in affecting
student abilities in learning science.
Data 3:
Post intervention survey (Appendix F)
Students responses to each question in this survey were separately analyzed. The overall
analysis revealed a high percentage of students aware of the lesson objectives, with a higher
percentage of students remembering the essential questions in full details. Most students
described the class environment as organized and stimulating learning with the majority of the
students on-task most of the time. Around half of the students understood all the information
and performed all the tasks. This analysis implies the success of this style of learning on the
degree of engagement, depth of understanding, and skills development.
Question 1: Describe what you learned during the lesson: 67% of the students described the
exact objectives of the lesson correctly, 28% partially described the learning objectives correctly
and 5% failed to describe the objectives. (Figure 8)



Figure 8: Student response to Q1in the post intervention student survey.

Question 2: What was the question you were trying to find the answer to?
72% of the students understood the question properly, 24% partially understood the question,
and only 4% did not understand it. (Figure 9)



Figure 9 Student responses to Q2: What question did you try to answer?

Question 3: How much teacher support was given, the student had to circle the number
below from 1-5. The percentages of student responses were as follows:
1. The teacher did all the work and I just listened. (0%)
2. The teacher had me read to answer questions and I could easily find the answers. (7%)
3. The teacher gave me the question and guided me to find an answer to the question. (48%)
4. The teacher presented me with a question and I had to find a way to answer the question. (34%)
5. The teacher gave me the topic and I had to find a question and design an investigation to
answer the question. (11%) (Figure 10)
The difference in the percentages obtained is mainly caused by the division of the classes into
groups, with varying student capabilities, the teacher gave less support to the more capable
students, and vice-versa.



Figure 10 Students response to question 3 which compares the role of the teacher and the role of the student during the
inquiry process.

Question 4: Asking the student to circle the statement that best fits their performance.
The responses were as follows:
1. I did everything that was asked of me. I understood it completely. (38%)
2. I did everything that was asked of me, however did not completely understand the information.
3. I did most of what was asked, I completely understood everything. (23%)
4. I did most of what was asked of me, I didnt understand parts of the assignment. (12%)
5. I did not finish the assignment because it was confusing. (7%) (Figure 11)
The results of student responses to this question show that around 60% totally understood the
lesson, 30% partially understood, and less than 10% were confused. Comparing the responses to
question 4 and questions 1 and 2 reveal very similar results, supporting the seriousness and
precision of the students responses.



Question 5: Students were asked to rate the classs behavior form 1-3, in order to
determine the success of IBL in creating a successful learning environment. The results
were as follows:
1. The class was well behaved; everyone was on task and following directions. (76%)
2. The class seemed to be following directions, but some students were off task. (22%)
3. The class was off task and students were not following directions. (2%) (Figure 12)

Figure 11 Question 5: Students responses on question 5: Determining students engagement and achievement.

Question 6: Is there anything that is still confusing about the lesson, or class instructions?
The students responses to this question varied, and their analysis is more qualitative. The
responses included: We felt confused at the beginning of the lesson, but after concentrating on
the given tasks instructions it went very well
We learned a lot from the teachers guiding instructions at the beginning of the lesson.
At the end of the lesson we felt capable
Learning is much more fun than before
Searching for the answer by ourselves will never be forgotten



These answers support the importance of IBL in engagement, deep understanding, and learning
for life.

Discussion and Recommendations

This action research project enabled me to utilize inquiry to explore, reflect, evaluate and
plan to improve my teaching methodologies and students learning experiences. Because
action research is an ongoing cycle, what I have learned will be utilized to continue the
process of exploration, reflection, and improvement. Additionally, I hope that my
conclusions and reflections are helpful and significant for other science educators too. The
findings concerning students understanding and learning outcomes were positive as
supported by the students scores in quizzes and Scientific method projects. Their responses
and reflections, which were based on the evidence they had collected or the discussions that
occurred throughout the lesson, indicated an in-depth understanding of the concept studied.
They had gained a better understanding of the process of science and scientific inquiry
through their own experiences in this lesson.
In this study, I was interested in determining students learning experiences and most
effective strategies that generated these learning outcomes. Because both the process of
scientific inquiry and students conceptual knowledge are socially constructed, it is essential
that we focus on and seek to better understand the often-neglected dynamics of this social
learning process and students experiences and interactions in such a learning environment.
(Dewey. 1938) Doing so will better enable us to bring further improvements to our lessons
and courses in order to maximize students learning and learning experiences.



The analysis of the learning experience indicated that students were highly engaged and
interested in this lesson. Throughout the lesson, they were actively involved in performing
the experiments, making observations, discerning and discussing patterns within their data,
and collaborating and communicating possible ways to develop the necessary criteria. The
most important factor is the students awareness of their own learning.
Using IBL strategies allows students to gain deeper understanding, be actively involved in
the process of science inquiry, take pleasure in their learning experience, and finally feel a
sense of achievement.
Throughout the reflection process, we also analyzed and discussed concerns and
challenges that should be considered for future revisions to this lesson and the course in
general. The lesson should be a more cyclical process that better reflects the process of
scientific inquiry and the 5E learning cycle model. With such an approach, students would
perform a few tests, have an opportunity to discuss their observations and seek emerging
patterns, and then do additional tests to collect further observations and make additional
inferences. Developing inquiry lessons that are better aligned with the nature of exploration
and explanation stages of the learning cycle will better reflect the cyclical nature of
scientific inquiry and might also reduce the level of frustration students initially experienced
in discerning patterns in their observation data. Similarly, we discussed incorporating an
introductory stage to allow students to examine texts and online resources. An extension to
each lesson can be a student guided research using various resources as well as the scientific
community, aiming to develop a link between what students learn and their real-life



Students initial concerns and rejections suggested that IBL opportunities, if meant to be
effective, should not be isolated cases. Students should have repeated exposure to this type
of learning throughout the course in order to ease the process of habituation to inquiry-based
learning and to encourage students to develop the necessary skills. Reforming students
habits of learning, especially in science, will take time and require a consistent repeated
effort to provide them with similar experiences, which will in turn develop their critical
thinking, problem solving, inquiry, and researching skills. Another reason for confusion,
briefly felt by some students early in the lesson, was their concern about their following test,
and how they will be evaluated. Revision of the course material to align with inquiry-based
learning will be most successful and effective when accompanied with a restructuring of the
assessment practices. Reforming the instructional approach in these courses without altering
the assessment component can never be effective as the students will still depend on
memorizing of their learning to be able to achieve high scores in tests and quizzes. This will
also cause students disappointment and carelessness, which may negatively interfere with
their learning.
Involving other teachers with me in the action research helped in spreading the
inquiry culture beyond the walls of my classroom, and participated in creating an active
learning community at our school. It activated the process of assessing for learning
depending on teachers self assessment in addition to various types of student assessments.
The teachers responses to their Inquiry Survey (Appendix G) represent a great tool for
encouraging teachers to adopt IBL strategies, as most science teachers already use many of
these strategies in their regular classes. With the backward design as a planning method, and
using the 5E activities lesson plans these IBL strategies can be most effective.


Overall, this action research study has revealed that inquiry-based science lessons
and content courses have the potential to improve students engagement in the science class,
science knowledge, science learning experience, and views of nature of science and
scientific inquiry. The findings have implications for science educators interested in science
content course development as well as science teachers at other levels who may be
interested in exploring students science learning experiences. The most practical
implications are the varying effectiveness of the different IBL strategies, among which lab
investigations guided by the student have proved to be the most effective for learning.




Reference List
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Appendix A
The Matrix for Assessing and Planning Scientific Inquiry*
Increasing in complexity

1. Generating scientifically oriented questions

Students do not contribute
to the investigation
questions; teacher provides
questions and/or other
resource with questions.


Students make revisions to

the questions provided by
teacher or resources.

Students develop their own

questions for investigation.

Making predictions or demonstrating the formulation of a

hypothesis before investigation

Students do not create

predictions or hypothesis;
teacher or resources
provide these.

Students modify
predictions or hypothesis
given by the teacher or

Students develop their own

predictions and hypothesis
for investigation.

3. Designing and conducting research study Sub-processes


Students do not
design; teacher or
resources provide

Students make

Students design
most of the
procedures with
limited help from

Identify variables

Students do not
choose variables;
teacher or
resources provide

Students choose
variable but have
limited rationale
for choices.

Students have
rationale for
choices of

experimental and
control groups

Students do not
experimental or
control groups;
teacher or
resources provide

Students design
some of the limits
of the experiment.

Students give
focused attention
to the design of
controls and


Data collection
and organization
of data

Students do not
collect data;
teacher or
resources provide


Students collect
data with some
input and help
from teacher or

Students collect
and organize data
with very little
help from teacher
or resources.

4. Explaining results Sub-processes

Use of simple

Students do not
analyze data;

Students do some
of the analyzes

Students do the
majority of

calculations, and
graphing of data

Teacher analyzes

Teacher help.

Analyzes with
limited teacher

evidence based on
analyzed data

Students do not
identify evidence
from data; teacher

Students identify
some evidence
from data; teacher
identifies most of
the evidence.

Students identify
evidence from
data with limited
teacher input.

Checking findings
for accuracy,

Students do not
address accuracy
or error analysis;
teacher checks for
accuracy or error

Students address
accuracy or error
analysis with
limited teacher

evidence with

Students do not
strive to make
connections with
teacher or
resources provide
Students do not
results; teacher
findings to

Students address
some accuracy or
error analysis;
teacher checks for
the majority
accuracy or error
Students make
some connections
with scientific
teacher or
resources provide
majority of
some results;
communicates the
majority of

results (oral or

Students make
connections with
knowledge with
limited teacher

results with
limited input
from teacher.


questions or real

Grady, 2010

Students do not
address additional
questions or
teacher or
resources address
questions or

findings to
Students address
few additional
questions or
teacher or
resources address
most of the
questions or


Students address
questions or
application with
limited input
from teacher.



Appendix B
Stage of Inquiry



Not Confident

Making observations
Recording observations
Taking careful notes
Drawing illustrations,
labeling illustrations



Not Confident

Making questions based on

Creating scientific
investigation type of
Brainstorming what if
possibilities for
Identifying a
Statement to Test
Making a statement to
test or investigate.
Recording the statement
to test or investigate.
Designing a procedure for
an investigation
Brainstorming what to do
and steps to take
Arranging steps in order
Identifying independent
Identifying dependent
Identifying control group
Identifying experimental
Determining all tools and





Not Confident

Not Confident



materials needed

Using the investigation

Obtaining materials
needed for investigation
Following written
Following safety protocols
communicating with others
Assuming leadership role
Making constructive
contributions to the group



Not Confident

Collecting Data for

Gathering quantitative
and qualitative data
Making accurate
Organizing data into
charts and graphs
Plotting data on graphs
Describing patterns in
Drawing a conclusion
based on data
Analyzing results using
Proving or disproving a



Not Confident

Communicating results
of an investigation
Displaying procedures,
data, conclusion
Writing investigation
and all findings in a lab
Orally communicating
investigation and all



Not Confident



findings in a lab report

Researching for
scientific knowledge
related to investigation



Not Confident



Not Confident

Identifying valid or
credible resources
Using peer reviewed
Citing resources
Addressing additional
questions to investigate
Real-world application
of your data findings
Communicating with

Llewellyn, 2005



Appendix C
Student Interest in Science Survey
1. Are you excited and motivated to come to science class?
May be
2. How do you feel about your abilities to do science?
Somewhat confident


3. What kind of activities do you enjoy in science class?

Generating Hypotheses
Designing Lab Investigations
Determining Variables
Reading and Analyzing Experiments
Experimenting in Labs
Reading in Textbooks
Researching on the Internet
Solving Worksheets
Group work
Creative Projects
4. Are you motivated by outdoor science labs or indoor science labs?
5. How do you feel when you complete an assignment or project or lab?
6. Do you feel you have enough help in science class?
7. Do you feel your classmates help or hurt your science studies?
8. Do you receive enough feedback on assignments, projects and labs from adults in
your life (teachers, coaches, parents)?
9. Do you feel you should be rewarded with things (candy, toys, and money) for
completing science work to the best of your abilities?


Appendix D
Student IBL Effective Science Learning Strategies Survey
Lesson Title: _________________________
What Helped Me Learn this lesson:
Rank the below items in order of 1-17 based on how much the item helps you learn what
we study in Biology class.
Most helpful = 1 and least helpful= 17
___ Reading and comprehension worksheets
___ Vocabulary crosswords or word searches
___ Note taking/ Lecture
___ Labs in which you design the investigation
___ Labs in which you are given step-by-step instructions
___ Labs to introduce a topic
___ Labs after note taking and introduction to a topic
___ written lab reports
___ Drawing or creative activities
___ Videos about the topic
___ Review games
___ Gizmos and web quests
___ Reading the textbook the night before a quiz or test
___ Rewriting or rereading my notes each day
___ Study Guides
___ Warm ups
___ After- school study groups
Adapted from Madden 2011



Appendix E
Student Science Skills Assessment
Science Skills Assessment Start Date _________ Student
Name______________________________ Scale 1, 2, 3 (1 = best; 2 = adequate; 3 = not

Lab Activity
Date Completed
Lab Skills &
Conduct of
Observations &
Data Recording
Interpretation of
Data &
Initiative, Work

Adapted from Moyer 2012



Appendix F
Post Intervention Student Survey
Lesson Title:

Describe what you learned in the lesson?

What was the question you were trying to find the answer to?

How much teacher support was given, circle the number below from 1-5.

1. The teacher did all the work and I just listened.

2. The teacher had me read to answer questions and I could easily find the answers.
3. The teacher gave me the question and guided me to find an answer to the question.
4. The teacher presented me with a question and I had to find a way to answer the question.
5. The teacher gave me the topic and I had to find a question and design an investigation to
answer the question.

Circle the statement that best fits your performance.

1. I did everything that was asked of me. I understood it completely.

2. I did everything that was asked of me, however did not completely understand the
3. I did most of what was asked, I completely understood everything.
4. I did most of what was asked of me, I didnt understand parts of the assignment.
5. I did not finish the assignment because it was confusing.

Rate the classs behavior form 1-3.

1. The class was well behaved; everyone was on task and following directions.
2. The class seemed to be following directions, but some students were off task.
3. The class was off task and students were not following directions.
Is there anything that is still confusing about the lesson, or class instructions?
Adapted from Moyer 2012




Appendix G
Teacher Survey
Assessing the different inquiry levels used by the teacher:
When teaching this subject to this class, how often do your students do the following
activities during your lesson?
In my lessons my students

never or
a. learn through doing
b. start with easy
questions and work up
to harder questions.

work collaboratively
in pairs or small


are given
opportunities to
explain their own


have discussions
about the topics.


do practical activities.


draw conclusions
from an experiment
they have conducted.
h. do experiments by
following my


in most

st all

Formatted Table



are allowed to design

their own experiments.


are asked to do an
investigation to test
out their own ideas.
k. have opportunities to
work with little or no

*Harland 2011



Appendix H

MSA Science & Engineering

Fair 2014

Judge's Name: ________________________________________

Project Title: _______________________:
ID: ___________________
Directions: Circle the number that best describes the Project. The lowest score is zero and the
highest score is three.
PROBLEM: To what degree is the problem new and/or different and how well is it written?
(0) no problem statement
(1) Incomplete problem statement
(2) Complete problem statement, and well written
(3) Complete, well-written problem statement and a new idea for the student
HYPOTHESIS: To what degree is this a testable prediction?
(0) no hypothesis
(1) Incomplete hypothesis
(2) Hypothesis present, but not completely testable
(3) Well-written testable hypothesis
How well is the plan developed to validate the hypothesis?
(0) locks overall plan to validate or confirm the hypothesis
(1) Partial plan validate or confirm the hypothesis
(2) Sufficient plan to validate or confirm the hypothesis
(3) Exemplary plan to validate or confim1 the hypothesis
EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURES: To what degree does the sequential experimental process connect
the hypothesis, data, and results?
(0) experimental procedures are not listed
(1) Experimental procedures are incomplete and/or not listed step by step
(2) Experimental procedures are complete and listed step-by-step
(3) Experimental procedures are quantitatively and/or qualitatively listed step by step
VARIABLES AND CONTROLS: How well are the variables identified and controlled?
(0) no variables are identified or controlled
(1} variables are identified but not controlled
(2.) Variables identified and some variables are controlled
(3) Variables are carefully identified and controlled


MATERIALS/ EQUIPMENT: How were the items utilized in appropriate and/or new ways?
(0) no materials or equipment identified or used in an unsafe manner
(1) Materials not appropriately identified and/or used safely
(2) Materials appropriately identified and used safely
(3) Materials carefully identified and used above expectations
DATA COLLECTION: To what degree are the method, number of trials, and quantity of data
(0) no quantitative data collected
(1) Insufficient data collected
(2) Sufficiently data collected
(3) Data collected above expectations
DATA PREENTATION: How well do the graphs, tables, logs, pictures, charts, or other visual aids
present the data'?
(0) no presentation of data
(1) Data partially and/or not clearly presented
(2) Data sufficiently and clearly presented
(3) Data presentation exceeds expectations
DATA ANALYSIS: How well are the results interpreted? How well have the possible errors been
(0) no interpretation of data
(1) Partial interpretation of data
(2) Correct mid appropriate interpretation of data
(3) Comprehensive and significant interpretation of data with error analysis
How well are the conclusions and/or products identified and interpreted?
How important are the findings?
(0) no conclusions and/or products identified
(1) Incomplete conclusions and/or products identified
(2) Apparent conclusions and/or products identified
(3) Inherent, significant conclusions and/or products clearly identified

APPLICATIONS: How well are new relationships, ideas and/or additional investigations identified and
(0) no applications identified
(1) Applications vaguely identified
(2) Apparent applications identified
(3) Significant, practical applications identified

VISUAL DISPLAY: How well is the project constructed and organized? Are spelling and sentence
structure correct?
(0) poor display, construction, and/or grammar
(1) Fair display construction and/or grammar
(2) Good display, construction and/or grammar
(3) Exemplary display, construction and/or grammar
ORAL PRESENTATION: How clear and well prepared is the presentation? How complete is the
presenter's knowledge and use of resources?
(0) poor presentation; .lack of knowledge/no use of resources
(1) Fair presentation; little knowledge/poor use of resources
(2) Good presentation; adequate knowledge/adequate use of resources
INTERVIEW: How precisely are questions answered?
How complete is the student's understanding of the experimental work?
(0) cannot answer questions adequately and precisely
(1) Partially answered questions
(2) Adequate, precise answers to most questions
(3) Adequate, precise answers to all questions

Appendix I
Lesson Plans
Grade 10 Lesson Plan 1
Laura Sedivy
BSC 307 5-E Model Lesson Plan

Title: Traveling the Biomes

Level: 10

Students will be able to:
1) Compare and contrast the animals, plants, and climate (temperature and
precipitation) of the six major land-based biomes
2) Identify the geographical distribution of the six major land-based biomes
3) Discuss the role of climate in determining the inhabitants and vegetation of
an area
4) Analyze temperature and precipitation graphs in order to choose which
biome is associated with each climate (temperature and precipitation)
Illinois Learning Standards:
ILS Stage I 12 B 3
Apply scientific inquiries or technological designs to research global biomes,
identifying the latitude, altitude, soil, temperature and precipitation ranges, and
inhabitants of the six major land-based biomes, comparing the salinity, light
penetration, nutrients, and inhabitants of aquatic biomes, identifying feeding
relationships within biomes, or comparing climatographs of biomes or carbonfixing/storage productivity estimations.

This lesson will begin with students traveling to the different biomes in order to
preview them before they actually go vacation to each of these biomes and spend
their cash on them. There will be 6 stations set up around the room which will
represent the 6 major land-based biomes. At each station, there will be a large
poster sheet containing the name and general image of the biome as well as the
following categories: animals, plants, climate, geographic distribution, and
questions. The questions category will be where each group writes down one
question that they have about that specific biome (such as about the human
population in the biome, animal adaptations in the biome, etc.).
Each group will have a specific colored marker to fill out the 5 categories on the
poster sheet and a word bank to use as a guide for brainstorming about the 6
biomes. Students will have 3 minutes per biome to brainstorm and fill in the
categories (for a total of 18 minutes to be spent traveling). Once students have
previewed all six biomes, they will rate their biomes from one to six, one being
their most favorite and six being their least favorite biome. They will then decide
how they would like to distribute their total sum of money among the biomes (total
sum=$10,000). They will give the largest sum of money to their favorite biome
because that is the one they would like to enjoy the most and spend most time at
(stay at the nicest lodgings, best sightseeing, etc.). They will give the smallest sum
of money to their least favorite biome, one that they do not want to spend much
money or time at.
After students complete the brainstorming activity and finish rating the
biomes/distributing their money, we will briefly discuss their choices based on their
preview of the biomes from the brainstorming activity.
Discussion Questions:
What were your favorite and least favorite biomes? Why?
How much money did you allot for your favorite biome? How will you be
spending that money once you are there?
How much money did you allot for your least favorite biome? Why is it
your least favorite?

For this portion of the lesson, the six groups of students (from the engage activity)
will be assigned one of the six biomes. One person from each group will choose
their biome out of a cup. If the group chooses the tundra biome, they will grab the
tundra poster sheet from the engage activity and use that in this activity. Students
will be given a packet to complete research on their selected biome. One sheet in
each packet will pertain to each biome. Students will use their textbooks and the
internet to research the biome they have chosen focusing on the categories from the
brainstorming activity-animals, plants, climate, and geographic distribution.
Students will only be filling out their specific biome sheet in the packet during the
research; the other sheets will be filled in during the class discussion when the
group members share their findings and students can take notes onto the other
biome sheets. In addition to researching the above mentioned categories, each group
will need to pick one question off of the brainstorming poster to research and
answer. There will also be a section on the worksheet for the students to write notes
on differences between what was on the poster and what they discovered through
research as well as a section for any questions the student still may have or
questions that stemmed off of their research. If students use internet sources, they
will just need to copy and paste the URLs into a word document and turn that into
As a class, we will discuss the students findings on the six different biomes. One
group at a time will discuss their research, the question they answered off of the
poster, and any disagreements or misconceptions found between the research and
posters. Students will be taking notes in their packets on the biomes that they did
not personally research. I will also try to address any questions students still may
have (such as those questions that may have arisen from research). After each group
shares their findings and we discuss each of the biomes, I will lead the discussion
into the importance of climate because that is the major factor that determines what
type of inhabitants will be found in the biome. After discussing climate more in
depth, we will move into the extend activity.

In this portion of the lesson, students will be applying their knowledge from their
brainstorming/research and our discussion on the biomes and climate. They will be
analyzing temperature and precipitation graphs with the goal of matching the graphs
to their associated biome. After analyzing the temperature and precipitation graphs,
students should have an idea of the general climate being depicted by the graphs
and then be able to apply their prior knowledge and determine which biome has that
Evaluation(Assessment Strategies):
Students will be assessed on the following:
Class discussion in the explain portion of the lesson
Biome packets (including their own research and notes from the class
Graph matching activity
The lesson follows the necessary components of the 5E model in order to introduce
the 6 major land-based biomes to students. This lesson introduces the six major
land-based biomes of the world in a fun and interesting manner. Students become
involved right away traveling through the different biomes in order to preview them
before they plan their actual vacations and decide how much money they want to
spend at each biome. The engage activity is the basis for the entire lesson as the
explore, explain, and elaborate parts stem off of it.
This lesson is also well matched to the learning standard Stage I 12 B 3. Students
will be learning about the various aspects of the six major land-based biomes, such
as the inhabitants (animals and plants) and the temperature and precipitation ranges
(climates) of the biomes. Students will also be comparing the climates of the
different biomes by analyzing temperature and precipitation graphs (if in one graph,
it would be a climatograph).

Illinois State Board of Education. (2011). Illinois State Learning Standards.
[On-line]. Retrieved on September 28, 2011. Available:

Levine, J.S., and Miller, K.R. (2008). Biology. Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson
Education, Inc.
NASA Earth Observatory. (2011). Great Graph Match. [On-line]. Retrieved on
September 28, 2011. Available:
Pidwirny, M. (2010, April 13). Characteristics of the Earths Terrestrial Biomes.
[On-line]. Retrieved on October 06, 2011. Available:
Schaffner, B. (2010). World Biomes. [On-line]. Retrieved on October 06, 2011.
Available: http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/world_biomes.htm
Tangient LLC. (2011). Science and the Environment Ecosystems Wiki. [On-line].
Retrieved on October 06, 2011. Available:
Worldbiomes.com. (2009, October 30). Grassland Biomes. [On-line]. Retrieved
on October 06, 2011. Available:

Grade 10 Lesson Plan 2




Sampson 2013


Grade 11 Lesson Plan 1

The newly designed lesson was developed as a two-day inquiry-based lesson.
Oxidation-Reduction Reactions using the Biologically Important Molecule Ascorbic Acid

Apply inquiry-based and problem-solving processes and skills to scientific investigations.
Demonstrate the use of scientific inquiry and methods to formulate, conduct, and evaluate
laboratory investigations (e.g., hypotheses, experimental
design, observations, data
analyses, interpretations, theory development).
Understand the differences between Oxidation reactions and Reduction reactions.

Classroom Procedure:
Essential Question posted on the board:
What will happen when Vitamin C is added to Cu (II) SO4?
What is the basis behind the change in color in similar situations?
Compare oxidation and reduction reactions.
Engage (Time: 15 min)
Divide the students into groups of two. Pass activity sheets to each group. Discuss the
nutritional labels and the major vitamins found in orange juice. Ask students what they
know about vitamins and their functions. Pass out slices of oranges, lemons, and other
food substances that contain ascorbic acid that students may eat while discussing functions
of vitamins. Have students define oxidation and reduction reactions from their textbook.
Be sure each group has completed activity one of sheets provided.
Activity 1 / worksheet
With your partner, review the nutrition label.
What product is the nutritional label for?

What is the major ingredient found in the substance?



What is the major vitamin(s) found in the substance?


Define oxidation reactions using your textbook.

Define reduction reactions using your textbook.

Explore (Time: 15 min)

Show the students slices of apples that have been allowed to sit at room temperature for 1
day with half of the apples sprayed with lemon juice and half of the apples without lemon
juice. Students will make observations and compare any differences noted between the
apples in lemon juice and apples without lemon juice. Using what they know, ask students
if they have any idea of what may be occurring with the apples and allow them to record it
on the activity sheet provided.

Activity 2 / worksheet

Write down your observations for each set of apples below.

Plain apples

What do you think is occurring in each set of apples?

Plain apples:

Apples with lemon juice:

Apples with lemon juice


Explain (Time: 25 min)

Using power point, discuss the following topics: oxidation and reduction reactions, water
soluble vitamins, water insoluble vitamins, sources of vitamin C, vitamin C as a
biologically important molecule, and the importance of vitamin C for living things.
Demonstrate the transfer of electrons in oxidation and reduction reactions and how antioxidants work.
Activity 3 / worksheet
Draw and summarize the demonstration of oxidation and reduction reactions.

Explain the function of anti-oxidant

Elaborate (Time: 25 min)

Students will conduct the experiment using copper (II) sulfate and ascorbic acid. Allow
students to complete questions on the activity sheet with their partner. Assist as necessary.
Activity 4 / Copper (II) Sulfate/Ascorbic Acid Lab
Cu (II) SO4
Ascorbic Acid
2 beakers
Disposable pipettes
1- Dissolve 1 gram of Cu (II) SO4 into 10 mL of water in a beaker.
2- In another beaker, dissolve 0.5 g ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in 5-10 mL of water.
3- Add vitamin C solution drop wise to the blue Cu (II) SO4 solution with a disposable
4- Note observations after each drop.

Vitamin C
Hypothesis: What will happen when Vitamin C is added to Cu (II) SO4?
What is visually happening? What are your observations during the demonstration?
Why does the color change?

What is occurring on a molecular level for the color to change?
Give a biological example this relates to. Draw a reaction scheme.
Evaluate (Time: 10 min)
Discuss the answers to the lab questions as a class. Students will turn in completed activity

Grade 12 Lesson 1
Studying Mendelian Genetics
Science Inquiry:
Conduct scientific investigations using appropriate tools and techniques.
Identify patterns in data and relate them to theoretical models.
Describe reasons for a given conclusion using evidence from an investigation.
Use empirical evidence to explain and critique the reasoning used to draw a
scientific conclusion or explanation.
Science Content:
Differentiate between dominant, recessive, co-dominant, polygenic and sex-linked
Classroom Procedure:
a) Engage (Time: 10 min)
The modified lesson began with an engage stage consisting of an attention-grabbing 2
minute video displaying a general idea about genetics, followed by activity 1
Activity 1:
Questions to be posed for group discussion:
Are there some traits that are more common in this class?
Can this class be used to represent the human population?
Which variation of a trait is more common?
Briefly describe the opening activity to engage students interest:
Students will complete a self-assessment of their own traits.
Hair color
Eye color
Hand Grasping
Students fill in a K.W. L. form in order to discover our students prior knowledge on the
b) Explore (Time: 20 min)
Probing / Clarifying Questions for students:
Can all traits be observed in pictures (no-tongue rolling)?
Are dimples the same as smile lines? How can you differentiate?
Activity2: Yearbook survey
Each group will be given a year-book from a different year.
Survey the senior class pictures.
Record observations of traits.
Classroom Survey
Students will conduct the same survey of traits in 2 other classrooms.

Students were provided three more detailed articles on Genetics: Mendels experiments,
Laws of Mendel, Exceptions to Mendels Laws.
They worked in groups of threes, and they began their study as a team. While doing so,
they used their individually devised charts to record and organize their ideas and
observations for each part. Upon completing this step, they began to discuss and analyze
their ideas, seeking patterns that could lead to possible hypotheses.
Activity 3: Students use various resources to support their hypotheses with evidence. They
Search on the internet, use library resources, use their textbooksetc.
c) Explain: (Time: 25 min)
Students are introduced more formally to the lessons concepts. Through readings and
discussions, students gain understanding of the major concepts and can verify answers to
questions or problems posed earlier. In addition, more abstract concepts not easily explored
in earlier activities are introduced and explained. As students formulate new ideas,
appropriate vocabulary can be introduced.
Relevant vocabulary:
Dominant, Recessive, Simple dominant, Monohybrid cross, Punnett Square
Content media
Student notes, teacher notes, PowerPoint lecture.
Data collected and summarized (table/graphs)
Introduce the concept of dominant and recessive traits.
Ratios/probability of traits occurrence.
Use of Monohybrid crosses to show probability of dominant and recessive traits.
d) Elaborate (Time: 25 min)
Students expand on what they have learned and apply their newfound knowledge to a
different situation. They test ideas more thoroughly and explore additional relationships.
Providing closure to the lesson and verifying student understanding is critical at this point.
Student Genetics Handbook
Students work in groups to complete the genetics handbook. This examines
dominance, patterns of inheritance, allele frequency and human inheritance.
e) Evaluate (Time: 10 min)
Lab Report
Students graphed data for their group, then compared results to other groups and to
expected dominant/recessive ratios for each trait.
Formed conclusions about dominant and recessive traits displayed.
Made conclusions based on their group datadid data match expected results. Why or
Why not?
PowerPoint presentation
Students distinguish between dominant and recessive traits.


Students explain the inheritance pattern of dominant and recessive traits.

Students present conclusions about dominant and recessive traits displayed.
Students make conclusions based on their group datadid data match expected results.
Why or Why not?

Grade 12 Lesson Plan 2




Sampson 2013