Is the Inquiry Real?by: William H. Leonard and John E. Penick

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When describing activities in today’s K–12 science classrooms, the word inquiry often causes some confusion. As a result, many of us find ourselves asking the same questions: How do we know when inquiry is authentic? What should happen in an inquiry-centered science classroom? What is the teacher’s role in an inquiry-centered class and what is the student’s role? The authors have thought long and hard about these questions. Here they offer suggestions for determining whether your classroom activities are engaging all students in true inquiry. In addition, they present an example of how a common, tried-and-true activity can be modified to facilitate inquiry.

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Reviews (4)
  • on Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:21 PM

This article is an excellent primer for teachers who are unsure of exactly what inquiry is. The article begins by describing an inquiry-based activity and explains why this activity is inquiry. The author also includes examples of activities that are listed as "inquiry" in textbooks, but do not actually meet the criteria of an inquiry based exercise. By identifying activities that are not inquiry based, and explaining why they do not meet the inquiry criteria, I was able to truly understand the difference between an inquiry based, and non-inquiry based, activities.

Maureen Stover  (Fayetteville, NC)
Maureen Stover (Fayetteville, NC)

  • on Sat May 12, 2012 1:59 PM

Provided in this article is a comparison of active learning versus real inquiry. This is a nice refresher as I evaluate what activities to keep for the next school term.

Ruth Hutson  (Westmoreland, KS)
Ruth Hutson (Westmoreland, KS)

  • on Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:39 AM

This article is about authentic inquiry. This would be a good article for teachers confusing about real and non-real inquiry. It provides the basic information about the relationship between who is generating the questions (student vs. teacher), how to initiate inquiry and how to access if authentic inquiry has occurred.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Sun Mar 27, 2011 10:51 PM

This article outlines how to do an inquiry type investigation in a high school science classroom. The investigation identified goes through the steps of doing inquiry process with students. The authors developed two lists of what inquiry looks like in the classroom-one for teachers and one for students. I think these would be helpful benchmarks to follow.

Kate Geer  (Louisville, CO)
Kate Geer (Louisville, CO)

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