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Science inquiry pedagogy in Western Australian upper primary and lower secondary classrooms

Sturrock, K., Woods-McConney, A. and Maor, D.ORCID: 0000-0002-0743-4755 (2022) Science inquiry pedagogy in Western Australian upper primary and lower secondary classrooms. In: 37th Annual Research Forum. Western Australian Institute for Educational Research (WAIER), 6 August 2022, University of Notre Dame, Fremantle.


For over 50 years science inquiry has been positively associated with student achievement. Recently, the role of science inquiry as a means of effective science teaching has come under increased scrutiny after analyses of international large scale assessments found an overall negative association between science inquiry and student achievement. Unclear in the research is how teachers are enacting science inquiry in the standard classroom, as previous research was based on classroom interventions and student reports.

This mixed methods research describes upper primary and lower secondary teachers' science inquiry enactment in 56 science lessons using a two-dimensional model of science inquiry. The findings show primary teachers enacted more inquiry than secondary teachers, and used predominantly guided inquiry, while secondary teachers used mainly closed inquiry. Although primary and secondary teachers enacted all the essential features of science inquiry, students did not experience science inquiry in its entirety. Further, students' exposure to the nature of scientific knowledge was limited.

This research provides a contemporary and multifaceted account of how teachers enacted science inquiry in their science lessons. The findings can be used by educational researchers and policy-makers to make informed decisions when seeking to improve science education.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Education
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