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There has been a major shift in the way science students were taught the subject and the recent methods adopted in the science classes of lower grades. Instead of the textbook based reading and memorizing approach a more practical inquiry based activity solving approach is coming into view which allows students to perform science related activities to make them participate more in the class and subject id learned through practical demonstrations rather than textual readings. This document shall analyze and try to determine the positive impact on lower grade children learning based on the inquiry based hands on science instructions where students assume the role of problem solver and teacher plays the role of guider.

History and Theories

Inquiry-based Learning

Recent studies have challenged the traditional way of learning and come up with an inquiry based system where learning is not a reading activity but knowledge is gained by practical applications of the theories in the form of different activities which allows student teacher interaction and active participation of the student.

Principle learning theory — Constructivism

The Inquiry based learning approach is based on the theory of Constructivism (Eick & Reed, 2002) which elaborates that learning is through experiencing and modeling the world. This makes the learning a dynamic process with gaining new information and rejecting old ones continuously. This type of learning involves intuitive thinking and exploration of the environment among students that allows for greater student teacher interaction in the classroom. Constructivism has contributed important insights to applications of learning theory educational administration (e.g., Lambert, 2008).

Hands-on, active student participation

Inquiry based learning allows active student participation in the classroom where the learning is done by performing different activities that results in the desired outcomes to instill the theories in the mind of the young student. It sparks student interest and instead of being bored by the theories they learn the objectives through activity.

Student roles of problem solver, increased responsibility

Instead of being passive listeners as in the traditional classroom students are active performers in the class that assigns them the role of problem solvers making them more involved in the class and giving them greater responsibilities. This participation keeps them active and stimulates their brains for better understanding that leads to effective learning.

Curriculum is process oriented and teacher takes role of guide/facilitator

The curriculum is covered as a set of activities and processes that are to be carried out in the class and help the student in understanding the concepts through active participation. Here the role of teacher is to facilitate and guide the student to keep their thought process on the relevant subject and help them to reach the desired conclusion.

Traditional Learning

Since time a traditional way of learning has ruled in our classrooms where teachers are considered source of knowledge and expert in their field and students are considered to be devoid of that knowledge seeking to quench their thirst by making use of the teacher’s vast experience. This type of learning does not involve student participation in the class room.

Principle learning theory — Behaviorism

This type of learning is based on the theory of behaviorism where learning is obtained by observation rather than participation. In this theory the student is provided a condition or environment where he has to observe the teacher and learn through his vast knowledge.

Textbook-based, passive student participation

This traditional way of teaching is usually a one way teaching approach where the teacher speaks and students listen and learn. If the student doesn’t understand anything he may ask the teacher for further explanation. The course is limited to a textbook which is read in the class and no effort is made to interact with the student in the class lectures.

Student role of direction follower

In such traditional teaching environment student teacher interaction is minimal and student participation in the class is passive only as a listener or observer. The student is not allowed to interact or present an idea related to the study, they assume the role of direction followers listening to the teacher who assumes the role of dictator or transmitter.

Curriculum is product oriented

The curriculum is limited to the textbook and teacher’s lectures in the form of question answers which are memorized by the student through repeated learning and reproduced in the test paper.

Evolution of Inquiry-based science

During the early 60’s a change of theory was in affect with researchers exploring new techniques of learning that may help the student in fully understanding and retaining the knowledge gained by students over longer period of time. The work of Jerome Bruner is significant in this regard. He realized the drawbacks in the learning system where student memorized the concept without fully understanding and resulted in clearing the test but with no change in the knowledge level of the student.

The theory of Discovery learning evolved as a response to the failure of traditional forms of teaching. This combined the work of Bruner, Piaget, Dewey, Vygotsky, and Freire. The basis of this theory is put on Constructivism where student explores the environment and puts it into new ideas. This results in a learning that is retained by the student.

As compared to the traditional mode of teaching the discovery learning approach provides more emphasis on developing the experimental and analytical skills of the child. This helps activate an interest in the child to explore the world around him and learn from his own experiences. The knowledge gained in this manner is substantial and is not the result of memorization from textbook as in the case of traditional teaching methods.

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