Apedoe - Science Ed. 2008

Engaging students in inquiry: Tales from an undergraduate geology laboratory-based course
Sci Ed 1-33, 2007

Xornam S. Apedoe (xapedoe@pitt.edu)
Learning Research & Development Center, University of Pittsburgh, 3939 O'Hara St., Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA

This paper reports the synthesis of three case studies of students' engagement in inquiry-based learning activities in an upper-level undergraduate geology course. Details of how students engaged in scientific questions, gave priority to evidence, formulated explanations, evaluated explanations, and communicated and justified their findings are presented. Data for this study included classroom observations and fieldnotes of classroom practices, questionnaires, archival data (e.g., student work samples), and audiotapes and transcripts of interviews conducted with the student participants throughout the course. The findings suggest that although these students were able to successfully appropriate inquiry practices (e.g., giving priority to evidence), it was not without its challenges (e.g., perceived lack of guidance). A detailed discussion of the ways in which students were successful, and where they had challenges engaging in inquiry is presented, with the goal of helping direct practitioners and researchers to strategies whereby students' inquiry experiences can be improved.

© 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Received: 30 May 2007; Revised: 17 October 2007; Accepted: 21 October 2007

DOI: 10.1002/sce.20254