Fanning the Flame: Investigating Guided Inquiry-Based Learning in the Secondary Science Classroom

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There is growing concern regarding school students developing increasingly negative attitudes to science during their secondary school experiences and disengaging with senior secondary and tertiary science subjects. The implementation of guided inquiry-based learning (IBL) to deliver science curriculum is believed to be an effective method to increase attitude, engagement and participation in science. In this study, guided IBL is defined as a level of science inquiry in which students investigate scientific questions given to them by teachers, using a procedure of their own design to collect data that they analyse to create their own answers. This study investigated the frequency of use of guided IBL in science classrooms and teacher perceptions about factors that affect the implementation of guided IBL pedagogy in the delivery of the NSW science curriculum. Thirty nine participants volunteered to complete an online survey. The survey consisted of both open and closed questions and data was analysed using descriptive analysis. Findings indicate that guided IBL may currently be used more often than expected with more than half of the participants reporting that they utilise guided IBL at least once per topic per class. Participants indicate that many factors enable guided IBL including teacher professional development, teachers’ positive personal beliefs toward guided IBL and available laboratory resources and equipment. And surprisingly, despite the language of inquiry permeating the new NSW science syllabuses for the Australian curriculum, these new syllabuses as well as preparation for external exams are perceived as barriers to guided IBL implementation.
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