Science as Inquiry- week 3 reflection on readings

From my perspective, the readings this week centered on what it means exactly to pursue science education as inquiry.  Several articles from this weeks reading repeated the common theme that allowing students the chance to inquire about something that interests them will create a deeper more meaningful understanding of important scientific concepts, as opposed to simply telling them facts they should memorize or conveying information in a one-way fashion.   Another way to solidify concepts for students using inquiry as our mode of education is to allow students the opportunity to pursue unknown aspects of our scientific understanding.   When I think of my own science education experience, I can recall many times hearing myself or another student ask a probing question in a lab or lecture and been told that we just don’t know the answer to that and then nothing more would be discussed on that issue.  It often felt as if any unknown or unresearched aspects of our subject of interest were off limits, as if there was nothing there to be learned yet.  We were only interested in understanding what was already known to the discipline.  When, if fact, approaching science education as a method of inquiry would lead us to investigate the unknown areas of interest and apply all the general aspects of what is typically thought of as  science to learn and contribute something new and dynamic to the fluid nature of science.   I can also remember that as a science student I would  often wonder “when/how am I going to have all the previously known information memorized? And then will I be able to contribute something new to scientific research? ”  Had science been taught as a form of inquiry through out my educational experience, I would have learned that I was capable of contributing to the scientific body of knowledge at any point through out the process.   That would have required that I be privy to the  “vicissitudes of fluid inquiry”  (Schawb, 1966, p. 21), but sadly, I feel that I was not.  As a future science educator, the feeling of missing out on a fundamental aspect of scientific education is not lost on me and will be of primary concern when planning the curriculum for my own students.Image

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3 thoughts on “Science as Inquiry- week 3 reflection on readings

  1. I am sad that you didn’t feel that inquiry was emphasized in your science education and glad that you are planning on using it in your curriculum. I struggle trying to decide how in the world I will do it, but I too plan on this. I do think facts have their place, but that does not mean that is all science is. Students need to know how to contribute. I had the same experience with teachers saying well we do not know. I disliked and still dislike this answer to my question. I plan to tell my students to go look it up and that I will investigate the answer as well and talk about it the next day. I never want to disregard what my students tell me. I dislike watching teachers do this. When doing this the students further lose the power in their learning, more than they already have.

    p.s. your blog is pretty awesome….I am behind in that department

  2. I couldn’t agree more when it comes to your example of lab courses in college where the lab was basically a recipe formula and I already knew what was going to happen before I even started. Part of what turned me off to some of the courses in college was the lack of familiarity with the professors and TA’s who each were concerned with their own research and could not be bothered with indulging questions that did not apply to the lab recipe. Thankfully my love of the subject kept me engaged even though the actions of others were making me feel otherwise, but sometimes the best way to learn is from we don’t want ourselves to do or become. The thing that scares me though is the example of a son saying that he will never be like his father only to take after him later in life, I worry that this is all that I know and may become that bad experience for other students. But I find comfort in the fact that I do worry and will do anything I can to make student experiences engaging and enjoyable.

    By the way your blog looks AWESOME!

  3. Angie-I had very similar experiences as you did in my science education. It wasn’t until I actually got a job working in a lab that I got to see what “real” science looked like. The question is always, for me, how to bring some of that authenticity–including the space in the curriculum to ask your own questions and pursue answers to those questions–into the classroom so that students can be excited about that process of inquiry.

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