Date: 17 Feb 2007

The Inquiry Laboratory as a Source for Development of Metacognitive Skills

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Abstract

The study described in this article is based on a long-term comprehensive series of investigations that were conducted in the context of teaching high school chemistry in the laboratory using inquiry-type experiments. The students that study chemistry according to this program are involved in an inquiry process that included all the inquiry skills namely: identifying problems, formulating hypotheses, designing an experiment, gathering and analyzing data, and drawing conclusions about scientific problems and phenomena. While conducting these activities in small collaborative groups, they were encouraged to discuss their ideas about the scientific phenomena they were observing with their classmates and they were provided the time needed to accomplish it. A case study of inquiry activity of a group of three students is described and analyzed using a model of metacognition that was presented by Schraw (1998). The transcripts of the interviews of 20 students were analyzed using a model of Flavell et al. (2002). It was found that while performing the inquiry activity, the students practiced their metacognitive abilities in various stages of the inquiry process. The analysis of the interviews indicated that the students that participated in the research expressed their metacognitive knowledge regarding the inquiry activity. Thus, it is claimed that an inquiry-type laboratory that is properly planned and performed can give students an opportunity to practice metacognitive skills, which are regarded in recent years as one of the key goals in our attempt to broaden the scope of learning skills developed through learning science.