An Activity Model for Scientific Inquiry

I was interested in a letter to Chemical & Engineering News (November 10, 2008 ) that proposed a “question-centered” model for Scientific Inquiry written by Rebecca Reiff and Teddie Mower. The nature of scientific inquiry comes up not only in experimental design and evaluation but also in articulation of the overall goals of science education. We chemistry teachers want to teach our students to “do science” and we believe that laboratory work is an integral part of doing science. However, really pinning down what exactly it means to “think like a scientist” or “do science” is rather difficult. The beauty of the activity model for scientific inquiry is that it is question centered. We begin, and often end, with questions. Science is a way of defining the study of a question in such a way that the answer can be obtained through experimentation and observation. My challenge this semester is to understand and communicate the fundamental questions that are at the core of the student experiments as well induce students to formulate their own questions based on their laboratory experience. The fundamental pedagogical question is, “How do students learn?” This is both an ongoing investigation on the part of the instructor and a challenge to tap into students own ways of learning to build a meaningful educational experience.



One Comment

  1. jbfriesen
    Posted August 21, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    A recent article in the Journal of Chemical Education invokes this model.
    “Using the Activity Model of Inquiry To Enhance General Chemistry Students’ Understanding of Nature of Science”

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