Inquiry based learning

Few articles, that I came across recently on inquiry based teaching and learning. Science magazine (www.sciencemag.org) from the US has started a competition on this topic:
Teaching Real Science
In this issue of Science, we are publishing the first of 15 winning entries for the 2011 Science Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction, a laboratory module entitled Light, Sight, and Rainbows. Created for introductory college science courses, each module can be readily used in many different settings and schools. The winning modules were selected by a jury of more than 70 scientists and science teachers, and the subjects include physics, math, chemistry, geology, molecular biology, plant science, and evolution. Throughout 2012, each will be published as a two-page printed synopsis supplemented by online material that contains the details needed to teach it. Read more…(subscription required)

An Inquiry-Based Curriculum for Nonmajors (Source: Science)

Only 28% of the U.S. adult population is considered scientifically literate. Although this is the second highest among 35 developed countries, a fact attributed to postsecondary science requirements (1), it should not be considered satisfactory, and improvement is critical to our future. A trend of many U.S. colleges and universities is to offer courses for nonmajors that cover a wide range of material via lectures, with few opportunities for students to engage in hands-on learning. This is particularly disturbing given that “a growing body of science educators has found that students’ attitudes toward science, their motivation for learning, and their conceptual development … can all be enhanced by engagement in real scientific investigations”. Read more…
Making science enjoyable (Source: The Hindu)
That little children are gifted with sophisticated thinking capabilities and can solve problems like a hard-wired scientist has been documented by many studies. Instead of nurturing these talents and imparting other skills like logical thinking — so very essential for excelling in science — the system ends up blunting or even destroying what they already possess. The systemic problem can be traced to the way science is taught today in schools and colleges: through lecture-oriented, teacher-centric instruction. If this turns the students into passive learners, introducing “difficult concepts too early in the science curriculum” compels them to become rote learners and excellent reproducers of “boring, incomprehensible facts,” notes a recent editorial in Science. The system ensures that the joy of learning science is killed at an early stage. Learning by doing is regarded as one of the best ways of stimulating a child’s curiosity and interest in the subject. Unfortunately, the faulty system has corrupted even this avenue. The curriculum has laboratory-based ‘experiments’ that require students to blindly follow certain prescribed procedures to achieve some predetermined results. This is in stark contrast to open-ended experiments where students, like scientists, are required to raise a logical question and go about testing it in a scientific manner. This kind of a system that makes science enjoyable is neither practised nor encouraged in India. Read more 
Learning by rote prevalent in top schools too (Source: The Hindu)
Among Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, who is still alive? Only a little over a third of class 4 students interviewed as part of a five-city school survey in India got this one right, with a small percentage saying it is Mahatma Gandhi. As many as two-thirds of students, also from class 4, who were asked to state the length of a pencil — placed against a ruler — could not give the right answer. Read more…

Wipro-EI Quality Education Study 2011 (Source: Wipro, India)

The QES-2011 study report has been released on 12th, December, 2011. This is a study of the best schools (as identified through a popular survey) in India on these aspects:

  • student performance in Class 4,6,8 in Science, Social Sciences, Mathematics and English
  • student attitudes and values
  • learning environments & organizational aspects of the school – structure, decision making, leadership’s vision and thinking, classroom practices etc
  • co-scholastic areas – perspective and facilities provided. Read more…
Curriculum designed by The Salters Institute in the UK for A levels in Chemistry, Physics and Biology is an attempt towards inquiry based learning.
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