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Which Type of Inquiry Project Do High School Biology Students Prefer: Open or Guided?


In teaching inquiry to high school students, educators differ on which method of teaching inquiry is more effective: Guided or open inquiry? This paper examines the influence of these two different inquiry learning approaches on the attitudes of Israeli high school biology students toward their inquiry project. The results showed significant differences between the two groups: Open inquiry students were more satisfied and felt they gained benefits from implementing the project to a greater extent than guided inquiry students. On the other hand, regarding documentation throughout the project, guided inquiry students believed that they conducted more documentation, as compared to their open inquiry peers. No significant differences were found regarding ‘the investment of time’, but significant differences were found in the time invested and difficulties which arose concerning the different stages of the inquiry process: Open inquiry students believed they spent more time in the first stages of the project, while guided inquiry students believed they spent more time in writing the final paper. In addition, other differences were found: Open inquiry students felt more involved in their project, and felt a greater sense of cooperation with others, in comparison to guided inquiry students. These findings may help teachers who hesitate to teach open inquiry to implement this method of inquiry; or at least provide their students with the opportunity to be more involved in inquiry projects, and ultimately provide their students with more autonomy, high-order thinking, and a deeper understanding in performing science.

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The authors wish to thank Bruria Agrest and Ruth Mendelovici, Chief Superintendents of Biology Studies, Israeli Ministry of Education, for their approval and support in conducting this research. We also wish to thank Ori Stav, and Yosef Mackler for their editorial assistance. This research was supported by The Sacta-Rashi Foundation and Israel Foundations Trustees.

Author information

Correspondence to Michal Zion.

Additional information

Related subject areas: Science Education, Inquiry

The results of this research are part of the Ph.D. thesis of the first author.



Attitudes questionnaire examining student’s view of the inquiry project

Name/ID _________________

Read the following and indicate your level of agreement for each statement.

Circle the most appropriate answer:

  1. 12.

    Looking back, I think I spent the most of my time:

    Preparing (choosing a subject/constructing research questions/planning the work)/performing the work/processing the data/writing the discussion.

  2. 13.

    The most difficult stage was:

    Preparing (choosing a subject/constructing research questions/planning the work)/performing the work/processing the data/writing the discussion.

  3. 14.

    When we needed to make changes in our project, this change was usually initiated by:

    me/my peer/the teacher/the lab assistant/other ______________.

  4. 15.

    Notes and remarks.

    1. A.

      How did you benefit from the inquiry project?

    2. B.

      What would you improve in the inquiry process if you could repeat the project?

    3. C.

      Write your own opinions about the inquiry project.

    Thank you for your cooperation.

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Sadeh, I., Zion, M. Which Type of Inquiry Project Do High School Biology Students Prefer: Open or Guided?. Res Sci Educ 42, 831–848 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11165-011-9222-9

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  • Attitudes
  • Guided inquiry
  • Inquiry learning
  • Open inquiry