Academic journal article Science Scope

Developing Inquiry Skills

Academic journal article Science Scope

Developing Inquiry Skills

Article excerpt

Students at all grade levels and in every domain of science should have the opportunity to use scientific inquiry and develop the ability to think and act in ways associated with inquiry, including asking questions, planning and conducting investigations, using appropriate tools and technologies to gather data, thinking critically and logically about relationships between evidence and explanation, constructing and analyzing alternative explanations, and communicating scientific arguments (NRC 1996).

Inquiry skills are fundamental to all middle level science teaching, but they should not be isolated from content; content and process are intertwined in science so they must be in instruction as well. Students learn inquiry skills best through well-designed problems that are anchored in content and based in real-world scenarios. Linking content and process gives investigations a purpose and makes them more meaningful and familiar to students from both a scientific and personal point of view.

Inquiry skills cannot be taught in only one grade or taught only at the start of the year; and they cannot be taught by having students memorize a set of procedures and definitions for a pencil-and-paper test on "the scientific method." To become proficient in inquiry, students must repeatedly practice these skills in challenging, content-embedded investigations until doing science and thinking like scientists become second nature. …

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