1. Why MakE the Shift to Teaching Science Through Inquiry?

At one time, science was taught as a collection of facts with the teacher and/or textbook being the ultimate knowledge authority.  In this learning environment, the student was viewed as a passive learner whose main role was to listen and memorize what was given and to reproduce the expected answers on a test or examination. They learned not to ask many questions. The laboratory work was mainly geared to confirming or demonstrating a given concept.

However, science is more than just an organized body of knowledge. It is a process of obtaining knowledge and a method of thinking. In the last few decades, the new Ontario elementary Science and Technology and the secondary Science curricula have placed greater emphasis on developing scientific habits of mind. This aspect of science is called the processes of science, the scientific method, problem solving, and inquiry.

John Dewey is credited as one of the first American educators to stress the importance of inquiry. The concern for emphasizing both the subject matter and the method of inquiry dates back to 1910 when John Dewy wrote:

…..science teaching has suffered because science has been so frequently presented just as so much ready-made knowledge, so much subject matter of fact and law, rather than as the effective method of inquiry into the subject matter.                Dewey, John. Educational Essays, London: Blackie & Sons, 1910

The emphasis now has switched from the traditional teacher-centred class organization to student-centred organization. The inquiry approach requires the learner to be an active participant in the quest for knowledge. The role of the student as researcher is stressed.

Scientific inquiry is currently featured as one of the three major goals of the skills and knowledge students are expected to develop in the elementary Science and Technology and the secondary Science programs:

The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Science and Technology, 2007

  • to develop the skills, strategies, and habits of mind required for scientific inquiry and technological problem solving.

The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 and 10: Science, 2008

  • to develop the skills, strategies, and habits of mind required for scientific inquiry.

The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 11 and 12: Science, 2008

  • to develop the skills, strategies, and habits of mind required for scientific inquiry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Thinking and Learning Visible Through Inquiry

Educators become the leaders of a “community of inquiry.” They

do not wait for development to happen rather they foster, provoke,

and scaffold it by deepening children’s current understanding so

new knowledge systems and new connections among them may be

continuously generated.

 

(Adapted from Eun 2010, Bruner 1996)

http://www.edugains.ca/resourcesKIN/Video/Guides/ELK-VideoGuide_Inquiry.pdf