As a teacher, scientist, professional development provider, K-8 science methods instructor, and learner I have encountered and engaged in many conversations about scientific inquiry. Unfortunately, most of these conversations suffered from each participant having a slightly different conception, understanding, or bias about inquiry. It is very difficult to discuss the importance of inquiry in science instruction if one person is thinking of inquiry as pedagogy (a way to teach) and the other is thinking of inquiry as stuff that kids should know and be able to do.
In today’s post (the first in a series), I hope to provide a framework to guide our thinking about inquiry. Upcoming posts will provide resources, examples, and (hopefully) conversations around the three aspects of inquiry.
The Three Inquiries
I think of inquiry as having three aspects or buckets:
1. Inquiry as skills and abilities (How to do science)- This bucket includes things such as:
- using evidence and reasoning to support a claim
- planning a controlled investigation
- using senses to make scientific observations
2. Inquiry as pedagogy (How to teach science)- This bucket features some of the following:
- The inquiry instruction continuum: confirmation, structured inquiry, guided inquiry, and open inquiry
- facilitating “sense making” discussions with students
- eliciting student preconceptions
3. Inquiry as the Nature of Science (knowledge about what scientists do)- You will find some of the following in this bucket:
- scientific knowledge is subject to change
- science is a creative process
- science is a collaborative endeavour
- there is no scientific method- there is NO ONE single set or sequence of steps that all scientific investigations follow
So what do you think? Do these 3 aspects of inquiry resonate with you? Is there a particular bucket that you tend to focus on when you are discussing inquiry with colleagues? Is there a missing bucket?
In the coming days I will elaborate on these three aspects and share some examples/resources that have shaped my thinking of scientific inquiry over the years.