Inquiry-based strategies: an investigation into the extent to which they are indicated and employed in the teaching of contemporary science syllabuses
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The science education literature was examined in order to identify the methodologies that various authors considered to characterise inquiry teaching. On the basis of this examination, a new classroom environment instrument, the Is This an Inquiring Classroom or ITIC was developed. The final version of the ITIC contained forty items in five different scales, Freedom in Practical Work, Communication, Interpretation of Data, Science Stories and Uncertainty in Science.The Actual and Preferred Forms of the ITIC were administered to 2,207 Grade 7-12 students and 65 teachers from 15 different schools. The results of this investigation showed that both students and teachers would prefer there to be higher levels of inquiry behaviours in Tasmanian science classrooms, with teachers indicating a preference for significantly higher levels than students. The perceptions of different sub-groups within the student population were also analysed.An examination of the Tasmanian curriculum documents showed that they supported the use of inquiry teaching methodologies, as defined by the ITIC scales. From the above investigations it was concluded that it would be desirable for there to be higher levels of inquiry methodologies in Tasmanian science classes, and that the production of the ITIC provides a means of monitoring and measuring any change.
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