Mulder, Y. G., Lazonder, A. W., & de Jong, T. (2010). Finding out how they find it out: An empirical analysis of inquiry learners’ need for support. International Journal of Science Education, 32(15), 2033–2053.
A study contrasting scientific reasoning skills of students with limited knowledge of the domain against more expert groups found little difference in nature of hypothesising and experimentation, but their lack of domain knowledge hindered non-experts' abilities to develop and test models. Findings highlight the need for support to understand models and organize knowledge.
Kallery, M., Psillos, D., & Tselfes, V. (2009). Typical didactical activities in the Greek early-years science classroom: Do they promote science learning? International Journal of Science Education, 31(9), 1187—1204
In this paper the analysis of science lessons in early-years classrooms shows that the lessons did not promote scientific investigation or make connections between the ideas involved and the material world. Teacher directed scientific activities observed had limited value in terms of scientific inquiry and consequently did not foster the development of ideas or support the formation of hypotheses. The paper raises questions about how to best promote scientific practices, including through continuing professional development.
Kirch, S. A. (2009). Identifying and resolving uncertainty as a mediated action in science: A comparative analysis of the cultural tools used by scientists and elementary science students at work. Science Education, 95, 308–335.
This study compares scientific practices in a research laboratory and a second grade classroom. Through conversation analysis, the author found that in both settings similar processes were followed to establish a mutual understanding about what was seen, done and concluded in a collaborative investigation. The author shows how “mutual understanding” differs from “agreement,” and suggests ways to structure science inquiry activities that can engage young children with the tentative nature of science while helping them to resolve discrepant procedures, observations or interpretations.
Brown, B. A., & Kloser, M. (2009). Conceptual continuity and the science of baseball: Using informal science literacy to promote students’ science learning. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 4(4), 875–897.
The formal introduction of learners to scientific phenomena is accompanied by the need to reconcile what they are being taught in classrooms with their informal or pre-existing conceptualizations of the same phenomena. Reconciled formal and informal conceptualizations represent what the authors of this study refer to as “conceptual continuity,” which, they argue, is an important asset for science educators seeking to support students’ conceptual development. In this paper, authors studied the ways in which high-school baseball players expressed their understanding of how curveballs curve using both scientific and everyday language. This study will be of use and interest to ISE educators, who seek to support students’ conceptual continuities across different settings.
Talanquer, Vicente (2009). On Cognitive Constraints and Learning Progressions: The case of "structure of matter". International Journal of Science Education, 31(15), 2123–2136.
This paper provides an interesting insight into how educators can support learners in coming to understand the nature of matter. Whilst the specific focus is on students’ implicit assumptions and reasoning strategies in a particular domain, the broader discussion exploring the differences between novice and expert thinking is relevant to all educators seeking to support learners engage with new content.
Jaakkola, T., Nurmi, S., & Veermans, K. (2011). A comparison of students’ conceptual understanding of electric circuits in simulation only and simulation-laboratory contexts. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(1), 71–93.
This article makes a case for providing multiple types of hands-on resources to support learner inquiry. More specifically, a computer simulation of an electric circuit complemented work with a real circuit to support learners’ conceptual development. When learners had the opportunity to use both simulated and real circuits, less structured guidance seemed to benefit the inquiry process.
Etkina, E., Karelina, A., Ruibal-Villasenor, M., Rosengrant, D., Jordan, R., & Hmelo-Silver, C. (2010). Design and reflection help students develop scientific abilities: Learning in introductory physics laboratories. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 19(1), 54–98.
Researchers found that students developed greater levels of what they call scientific abilities when provided opportunities to design, refine, and reflect on science experiments during a laboratory course, as compared with students who conducted more traditional labs involving following directions in already established experimental designs. This article will interest informal educators seeking to provide students with opportunities to create, make, invent, and lead their own scientific investigations.
McNeill, K., & Krajcik, J. (2009). Synergy between teacher practices and curricular scaffolds to support students in using domain-specific and domain-general knowledge in writing arguments to explain phenomenon, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 18 (3), 416–460.
This article reports on a study that reveals some of the complexities of supporting children's understandings of scientific argumentation. The paper could be useful for ISE educators seeking to incorporate scientific argumentation processes and skills into their programs for middle-school-aged children. Specifically, the article notes the benefits of context-specific (rather than generic) prompts and questions, and the need for ongoing professional development to support teachers in encouraging scientific argumentation.
Wilson, C.D., Taylor, J.A., Kowalski, S.M. & Carlson, J. (2010). The relative effects and equity of inquiry-based and commonplace science teaching on students’ knowledge, reasoning, and argumentation. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(3), 276–301.
This study is of value in guiding ISE professionals’ thinking on the usefulness of inquiry-based instruction, especially in a climate of accountability and evidence-based reform. Students in the inquiry-based group perform better than the students receiving commonplace instruction, on each of the knowledge, scientific reasoning, and argumentation measures.