Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Path Model of Effective Technology-Intensive Inquiry-Based Learning

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Path Model of Effective Technology-Intensive Inquiry-Based Learning

Article excerpt


Inquiry-based approaches are one of many instructional approaches that use meaningful tasks such as cases, projects, and research to situate learning. Students work in collaborative and cooperative groups to identify what they need to learn to solve a problem, gain research skills, and enhance trade-off capacity (Avsec & Kocijancic, 2014). Inquiry-based learning (IBL) is an inductive learning strategy that enables learners to construct and process knowledge, develop reasoning skills, and to increase interest and learning motivation in technology-intensive learning environments (Hmelo-Silver, Duncan, & Chinn, 2007; Minner, Levy, & Century, 2010; Marshall & Horton, 2011). Alfieri, Brooks, Aldrich and Tenenbaum (2011) stated that "allowing students to interact with materials, models, manipulate variables, explore phenomena, and attempt to apply principles affords them with opportunities to notice patterns, discover their underlying causalities, and learn in ways that are seemingly more robust" (p. 3). The effectiveness of active learning approaches is still a matter of debate at all levels of education (Galand, Frenay, & Raucent, 2012). During recent decades, even in several models of IBL, there has been a lack of reliable quantitative measurement of IBL achievements (Kirschner, Sweller, & Clark, 2006; Marshall, Horton, & Smart, 2009; Alfieri et al., 2011). The quantitative effects in terms of knowledge, problem solving, and developing critical thinking and decision-making (CTDM) capabilities are still lacking. Considering all reported features and influencers, the best IBL environments and models are yet to be discovered. The visualization of factors influencing effective technology-intensive guided IBL in middle school open learning courses is still lacking.

We contribute to the literature by providing evidence of an association between individual IBL acceptance factors (learning environment, material, process, content, reactions, and behavior), individual prior capability, and the performance (knowledge and capacity, satisfaction, and cognitive and psychomotor difficulty) in the context of the middle school inquiry-based open learning environment. Especially, scientists and educators in technology education can benefit from this.

Therefore, the objective of this paper is to investigate what factors in IBL settings encourage multifaceted learning, are statistically significant, satisfying, and effective, and are not cognitive or psychomotor intensive.

Literature review

Research on the impact of IBL on learning is timely because classroom reform discussions are exploring issues of flexible thinking and lifelong learning. Science and technology educators are increasingly interested in IBL as shown by the widespread IBL-related publications. Educators are interested in IBL because of its emphasis on active, transferable learning and its potential for motivating students. By exploiting the capacity of varied technologies, classroom- and/or laboratory-based IBL has become more attainable. Kim and Hannafin (2011) argue that the "evidence of understanding how to support students' IBL in classroom-based, technology-intensive learning environments has been limited, and coherent frameworks to guide implementation have been slow to emerge" (p. 1). Recent efforts by many researchers (e.g., Eisenkraft, 2003; Prince & Felder, 2006; Minner et al., 2010; Marshall & Horton, 2011) showed that IBL was especially attractive to the science community, but the effectiveness of IBL is not yet stable in real-world classrooms using technology-intensive learning environments. Investigations of scaffolding learning in real-world classrooms are scarce (Kim & Hannafin, 2011). IBL has been recommended as a leading instructional strategy for science, but has several limitations in technology-intensive education (Prince & Felder, 2006; Mountrakis & Triantakonstantis, 2012). …

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