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Inquiry and groups: Student interactions in cooperative inquiry-based science

Woods-McConney, A., Wosnitza, M. and Sturrock, K.L. (2016) Inquiry and groups: Student interactions in cooperative inquiry-based science. International Journal of Science Education, 38 (5). pp. 842-860.

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Science education research has recommended cooperative inquiry based science in the primary science context for more than two decades but after more than 20 years, student achievement in science has not substantially improved. This study, through direct observation and analysis, investigated content-related student interactions in an authentic inquiry based primary science class setting. Thirty-one upper primary students were videotaped working in cooperative inquiry based science activities. Cooperative talk and negotiation of the science content was analysed to identify any high-level group interactions. The data show that while all groups have incidences of high-level content-related group interactions, the frequency and duration of these interactions were limited. No specific pattern of preceding events was identified and no episodes of high-level content-related group interactions were immediately preceded by the teacher’s interactions with the groups. This in situ study demonstrated that even without any kind of scaffolding, specific skills in knowing how to implement cooperative inquiry based science, high-level content-related group interactions did occur very briefly. Support for teachers to develop their knowledge and skills in facilitating cooperative inquiry based science learning is warranted to ensure that high-level content-related group interactions and the associated conceptual learning are not left to chance in science classrooms.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of Science Education
Page Range: pp. 842-860
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
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