CREATING A CULTURE OF INQUIRY IN THE CLASSROOM WHILE FOSTERING AN UNDERSTANDING OF THEORETICAL CONCEPTS IN DIRECT CURRENT ELECTRIC CIRCUITS: A BALANCED APPROACH
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Innovative educational approaches in the sciences have emphasized inquiry in the classroom but it is not self-evident that inquiry instruction leads to conceptual understanding. A design research cycle was conducted to investigate how physics instruction aimed at creating a classroom culture of inquiry can contribute to Grade 9 students’ understanding of theoretical concepts in direct current electric circuits. A hypothesized local instruction theory and classroom pedagogy were created in cooperation with 3 physics teachers, emphasizing (a) establishing classroom norms of inquiry, (b) providing a theoretical starting point, (c) using targeted experiments guided by conceptual questions, and (d) theory-oriented, whole-class discussions. After data collection, retrospective analysis of 1 class showed that the enactment of the local instruction theory and the development of classroom norms of inquiry had led to the expected learning processes and increased student conceptual understanding. Science education promoting the nature of science as inquiry might consider the importance of an effective local instruction theory and the social classroom processes that require science-oriented classroom norms.
KEY WORDSclassroom culture conceptual change design research direct current electric circuits inquiry-based science education
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