Effects of explicit instruction on the acquisition of students' science inquiry skills in grades 5 and 6 of primary education

P.M. Kruit, R.J. Oostdam, E. van den Berg, J. Schuitema

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

In most primary science classes, students are taught science inquiry skills by way of learning by doing. Research shows that explicit instruction may be more effective. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of explicit instruction on the acquisition of
inquiry skills. Participants included 705 Dutch fifth and sixth graders. Students in an explicit instruction condition received an
eight-week intervention of explicit instruction on inquiry skills. In the lessons of the implicit condition, all aspects of explicit
instruction were absent. Students in the baseline condition followed their regular science curriculum. In a quasi-experimental
pre-test–post-test design, two paper-and-pencil tests and three performance assessments were used to examine the acquisition
and transfer of inquiry skills. Additionally, questionnaires were used to measure metacognitive skills. The results of a multilevel analysis controlling for pre-tests, general cognitive ability, age, gender and grade level indicated that explicit instruction facilitates the acquisition of science inquiry skills. Specifically on the performance assessment with an unfamiliar topic, students in the explicit condition outperformed students of both the implicit and baseline condition. Therefore, this study provides a strong argument for including an explicit teaching method for developing inquiry skills in primary science education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-441
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Volume40
Issue number4
Early online date13 Jan 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

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