Inquiry in the Classroom

Realities and Opportunities

Edited by:
Eleanor Abrams
Sherry Southerland
Peggy Silva

A volume in the series: Contemporary Research in Education. Editor(s): Terry Osborn, South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee.

Published 2007

The purpose of this text is to further flesh out some of the factors--specific dimensions of our n-dimensional hyperspace--important to inquiry in the classroom. As such, some of the of the factors have already been introduced, others will be new to the conversation. In our discussions that lead to the preparation of this manuscript, it became clear that each of us was interested in classroom inquiry, and so we each wanted to situate our analysis in these classrooms. For that purpose, our discussions are organized into sections. Each section begins with one (or more) vignette--snippets of science classrooms--that the authors then discuss how this vignette demonstrates some aspect of the specific dimension that they are charged with discussing. Because inquiry is so multifaceted and its portrayals are often complex and nuanced, the discussion of the dimension is broken into separate essays--each of which addresses the focal dimension in different ways. Following the essay, a broader discussion across the essays is offered to support your sense making.

As we began this effort, we selected what we understood to be the most influential dimensions of inquiry in the classroom. But certainly there are others that can and should have been included, (i.e., the role of curriculum in supporting (or confining) the enactment of inquiry, the manner in which inquiry can shape students' knowledge, the role systemic efforts can have in enabling inquiry). But given the confines of one text, we've chosen what we understood to be the central components, and these have been arranged into 6 sections. Our vision is that each of these sections can be self-supporting, so their appearance in the text doesn't represent the order in which they must be read. Ideally, the reader would engage in the introduction, then select the section that addresses the dimension influencing classroom inquiry that is of greatest importance. The only exception to this is section 6, which is a specific form of enactment of classroom inquiry; engagement with this section may be best augmented after reading the sections that interest you.

Acknowledgments, Introduction: Inquiry in the Classroom: Identifying Necessary Components of a Useful Definition, Section I, Editor’s Note: Describing Section I’s use of Inquiry in the Classroom, Students’ Knowledge and Skill With Inquiry, What Students Need to Know and Do in Inquiry-Based Instruction, How Do I Do This? Skills Students Need for Inquiry, What Did You Do in Science Today?, Section II, Editor’s Note: Describing Section II’s Use Of Inquiry In the Classroom, Selecting and Using Inquiry Approaches To Teach Science:, The Influence of Context In Elementary, Middle, and Secondary Schools, Section III, Editor’s Note: Describing Section III’s use of Inquiry in The Classroom, Accommodating Student Diversity Within Inquiry, Gender and Inquiry in the Classroom: Contexts and Contests, Inquiry for Diverse Student Populations: Promises and Pitfalls, Transformative Inquiry: Implications and Conclusions, Section IV, Editors’ Note: Describing Section IV’s use of Inquiry in the Classroom, The Accountability Movement and Inquiry: Must They be Mutually Exlusive Demands?, Assessing Student Understanding in an Inquiry-Based Learning Environment, The “Problem” of Inquiry: The Divide Between Educating for Credentialing and Educating for a Democracy, Is There Room for Inquiry in a World of Accountability?, Section V, Editors’ Note: Describing Section V’s use of Inquiry in the Classroom, Teacher Knowledge and Enacting Inquiry, Teacher Knowledge About Inquiry: Incorporating Conceptual Change Theory, A Framework for Examining Professional Knowledge for Teaching Science via Inquiry, Moving Past a Belief in Inquiry as a Pedagogy: Implications for Teacher Knowledge, Requisite Teacher Knowledge About Inquiry: Resources for Thinking About Teaching for Inquiry, Section vi, Editors’ Note: Describing Section IV’s use of Inquiry in the Classroom, Student-Scientists Partnerships: Exploring one Example of Inquiry in the Classroom, Inquiry and Student Scientist Partnerships, The Science of a Student Scientist Partnership, Real Science in Real Schools?, Making a Student Scientist Partnerships Work, About the Authors