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Inquiry-based, Teacher directed and adaptive instruction in secondary science: A cross-national analysis of associations with science literary and interest using PISA 2015

McConney, A. and Woods-McConney, A. (2019) Inquiry-based, Teacher directed and adaptive instruction in secondary science: A cross-national analysis of associations with science literary and interest using PISA 2015. In: 12th Annual International of Education Research and Innovation, 11 - 13 November 2019, Seville, Spain

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Free to read: https://doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2019.1464
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Abstract

In science education, and STEM more generally, inquiry based teaching and learning has been a dominant pedagogical approach, particularly in Western countries, for at least half a century (e.g., Furtak, Seidel, Iverson, & Briggs, 2012; Minner, Levy, & Century, 2010). In Europe, inquiry-based teaching has become part of science education orthodoxy, receiving policy support and funding from the EU following the Rocard report (2007) recommendation that “the introduction of inquiry-based approaches in schools ... should be actively promoted” (p. 17). Recently, however, the availability of large-scale, high-quality international assessment data in science and mathematics—like Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)—has allowed scaled-up analysis of associations between various pedagogical approaches, and students’ achievement and engagement in science (e.g., Areepattamannil, 2012; Kang & Keinonen, 2017; McConney, Oliver, Woods-McConney, Schibeci, & Maor, 2014).

In this study, we report research that builds on previous investigations of inquiry-based teaching in science that used PISA 2006 (McConney, et al., 2014). Our previous study found that in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, students who reported high levels of inquiry also showed above-average levels of interest in science, but below-average levels of science literacy. We also found the corollary to be true. These findings ran counter to orthodox views about the efficacy of inquiry-based teaching in science.

In the current study, using PISA 2015, we extend our analysis of teaching and learning in science to six countries, and ask two research questions:

RQ1: To what extent is the variability observed in science literacy (as measured in PISA 2015) associated with the frequencies of three distinct approaches to teaching science, reported by students from their science classrooms? To what extent does this vary by country and/or gender?
RQ2: To what extent is the variability in students’ interest in science associated with the frequencies of three distinct approaches to teaching science, as reported by students? To what extent does this vary by country and/or gender?

Consistent with the primary analysis of PISA 2015 as well as our previous analysis of PISA 2006, this study shows that the frequency of inquiry-based teaching is negatively associated with students’ science literacy. For students in six countries (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK and the USA), the more frequently students experienced inquiry-based activities, the weaker their literacy in science, on average. This negative relationship between science literacy and inquiry-based activities was strongest for students in the USA and Canada, but was also evident to varying degrees in all six countries. In contrast, our analysis also revealed a moderately strong positive association between inquiry and students’ interest in science. This was consistent for all six countries. With increasing focus on effective, evidence-informed practice in teacher education, our obligation is to prepare teachers based on the strongest research available regarding the efficacy of various pedagogical approaches in science. At a minimum, the findings reported in this analysis demand examination and discussion of how “inquiry” might be best conceived and applied in helping students to learn and like science.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: Education
Other Information: Appears in: ICERI2019 Proceedings
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/54153
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