Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards: A Guide for Teaching and Learning (2000)

A report of the National Research Council

Published by National Academy Press, Washington DC


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Table 2-6 below, which appears on page 29 of Inquiry and the NSES, indicates the five essential features of classroom inquiry, along with indications of how each might vary depending on the amount of structure, guidance, and coaching provided by the teacher (or curriculum materials).

Table 2-6.   Essential Features of Classroom Inquiry and Their Variations

Essential Feature


1.  Learner engages in scientifically oriented questions

Learner poses a question

Learner selects among questions, poses new questions

Learner sharpens or clarifies question provided by teacher, materials, or other source

Learner engages in question provided by teacher, materials, or other source

2.  Learner gives priority to evidence in responding to questions

Learner determines what constitutes evidence and collects it

Learner directed to collect certain data

Learner given data and asked to analyze

Learner given data and told how to analyze

3.  Learner formulate explanations from evidence

Learner formulates explanations after summarizing evidence

Learner guided in process of formulating explanations from evidence

Learner given possible ways to use evidence to formulate explanation

Learner provided with evidence

4.  Learner connects explanations to scientific knowledge

Learner independently examines other resources and forms the links to explanations

Learner directed toward areas and sources of scientific knowledge

Learner given possible connections


5.  Learner communicates and justifies explanations

Learner forms reasonable and logical argument to communicate explanations

Learner coached in development of communication

Learner provided broad guidelines to use sharpen communication

Learner given steps and procedures for communication



<==  Amount of Learner Self-Direction  ==>




<==  Amount of Direction from Teacher or Material  ==>