Developing Materials to Promote Inquiry: Lessons Learned

June 30th, 2005 | RESEARCH

This paper focuses on an early stage of developing curricular materials to support students' learning of scientific inquiry. The materials being developed and tested, called Classroom FeederWatch (CFW), aimed to support science inquiry and were developed by a collaborative team of private curriculum developers and scientists (ornithologists). Inquiry dimensions were influenced at the outset by the newly released National Science Education Standards (National Research Council, Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1996) and by prior successful experiences of ornithologists with inquiry experiences for adults. Despite hopes that CFW materials would assist middle school students to learn inquiry, evaluation findings showed little increase in students' understanding of inquiry or the ability to plan and conduct inquiry. We learned that improvements to inquiry dimensions of the curriculum required aligning activities more closely with practices that reflected the work of scientists in the discipline, integrating learning of content knowledge with learning about inquiry, and adjusting evaluation protocols to more accurately assess inquiry as represented in the Standards. Discussion highlights the influence of the Standards on development of inquiry dimensions of the materials, including the way in which initial application of the Standards to the early version of CFW materials may have restricted the engagement of both students and teachers in conducting science inquiry.


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Team Members

Deborah Trumbull, Co-Principal Investigator, Cornell University
Rick Bonney, Author, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Nancy Grudens-Schuck, Author, Iowa State University


Publication: Science Education
Volume: 89
Number: 6
Page(s): 879

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Audience: Educators | Teachers | Middle School Children (11-13) | Scientists
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Education and learning science | Life science
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Citizen Science Programs | Informal | Formal Connections | K-12 Programs | Public Programs