Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 258–269 | Cite as

Model Based Inquiry in the High School Physics Classroom: An Exploratory Study of Implementation and Outcomes



This study considers whether Model Based Inquiry (MBI) is a suitable mechanism for facilitating science as inquiry to allow students to develop deep understandings of difficult concepts, while also gaining better understandings of science process and the nature of science. This manuscript also considers time devoted to MBI in comparison to more traditional demonstration and lecture (TDL) teaching methods, while also revealing the MBI strategy implemented in the physics classroom. Pre-, post-, and delayed- revised versions of the Physics, Attitudes, Skills, and Knowledge Survey (PASKS) were administered to two groups of students, those taught a unit on buoyancy with a TDL instructional strategy (n = 26) and those taught the same buoyancy unit, but with the MBI instructional strategy (n = 28). The PASKS focuses on student achievement in terms of science content, science process/reasoning, nature of science, and student attitude toward science. Through quantitative methods the findings revealed statistical differences when considering the pre-, post-, and delayed- measures with significant differences found overall and on each scale. This indicated improved achievement overall and on each scale with the exception of attitude scale for both groups. Additionally, the findings revealed no statistical differences between groups (i.e., TDL & MBI).


Model-based inquiry Physics Traditional lecture and demonstrations Student science outcome measures 


  1. Adamson AE, Banks D, Burtch M, Cox F III, Judson E, Turley JB, Benford R, Lawson AE (2003) Reformed undergraduate instruction and its subsequent impact on secondary school teaching practice and student achievement. J Res Sci Teach 40(10):939–958CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Akindehin F (1988) Effect of an instructional package on preservice science teachers’ understanding of the nature of science and acquisition of science-related attitudes. Sci Educ 72(1):73–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. American Association for the Advancement of Science (1989) Science for all Americans. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. American Association for the Advancement of Science (1993) Benchmarks for science literacy. Author, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  5. Bland JM, Altman DG (1997) Statistics notes: Cronbach’s alpha. Br Med J 314:572Google Scholar
  6. Bybee RW, Carlson Powell J, Trowbridge LW (2008) Teaching secondary school science: strategies for developing scientific literacy, 9t edn. Pearson, Upper Saddle RiverGoogle Scholar
  7. Campbell T, Bohn C (2008) Science laboratory experiences of high school students across one state in the U.S.: descriptive research from the classroom. Sci Educator 17(1):36–48Google Scholar
  8. Cavallo A, Laubach T (2001) Students’ science perceptions and enrollment decisions in differing learning cycle classrooms. J Res Sci Teach 38(9):1029–1062CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chang C, Mao S (1999) Comparison of Taiwan science students’ outcomes with inquiry-group versus traditional instruction. J Educ Res 92(6):340–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Colburn A (2000) An inquiry primer. Sci Scope 23(6):42–44Google Scholar
  11. Ertepinar H, Geban O (1996) Effect of instruction supplied with the investigative-oriented laboratory approach on achievement in a science course. Educ Res 38(3):333–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gobert J, Buckley B (2000) Introduction to model-based teaching and learning in science education. Int J Sci Educ 22(9):891–894CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hakkarainen K (2003) Progressive inquiry in a computer-supported biology class. J Res Sci Teach 40(10):1072–1088CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hruby GG (2002) Social constructivism and social constructionism. In: Guzzetti B (ed) Encyclopedia of literacy research in America. ABCCLIO Press, Santa BarbaraGoogle Scholar
  15. Johnston A (2008) Demythologizing or dehumanizing? A response to Settlage and the ideals of open inquiry. J Sci Teach Educ 19:11–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lawson A (n.d.) Assessments. Anton E. Lawson. 24 Jan 2009 <>
  17. Lederman N (1998) The state of science education: subject matter without context. Electron J Sci Educ 3(2):1–24Google Scholar
  18. Martin-Hansen L (2002) Defining inquiry: exploring the many types of inquiry in the science classroom. Sci Teacher 69(2):34–37Google Scholar
  19. National Research Council (NRC) (1996) The national science education standards. National Academy Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  20. National Research Council (NRC) (2000) Inquiry and the national science education standards. National Academy Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  21. National Research Council (NRC) (2007) Ready, set, science!: Putting research to work in K-8 science classrooms. National Academy Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  22. National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) (2007) NSTA position statement scientific inquiry. Retrieved 7 Nov 2008 from
  23. O’Sullivan CY, Weiss AR (1999) Student work and teacher practices in science. US Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, National Center for Education Statistics, NCES 1999-455Google Scholar
  24. Ogunniyi MB (1983) Relative effects of a history/philosophy of science course on student teachers’ performance on two models of science. Res Sci Technol Educ 1(2):193–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Paris S, Yambor K, Packard B (1998) Hands-on biology: a museum-school-university partnership for enhancing students’ interest and learning in science. Elem Sch J 98(3):267–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Piburn M, Sawada D, Turley J, Falconer K, Benford R, Bloom I, Judson E (2000) Reformed teaching observation protocol (RTOP): Reference manual (ACEPT Technical Report No. INOO-3). Arizona Collaborative for Excellence in the Preparation of Teachers, Tempe (Eric Document Reproduction Service, ED 447 205)Google Scholar
  27. Sawada D, Piburn M, Judson E, Turley J, Falconer K, Benford R, Bloom I (2002) Measuring reform practices in science and mathematics classrooms: the reformed teaching observation protocol. Sch Sci Math 102(6):245–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Schwartz R, Lederman N, Crawford B (2004) Developing views of nature of science in an authentic context: an explicit approach to bridging the gap between nature of science and scientific inquiry. Sci Educ 88(4):610–645CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Settlage J (2007) Demythologizing science teacher education: conquering the false ideal of open inquiry. J Sci Teach Educ 18:461–467CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Weld J (2002) Learner-centered teaching. In: Bybee RW (ed) Learning science and the science of learning. NSTA Press, Arlington, pp 77–84Google Scholar
  31. Windschitl M (2003) Inquiry projects in science teacher education: what can investigative experiences reveal about teacher thinking and eventual classroom practice? Sci Educ 87(1):112–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Windschitl M, Thompson J (2006) Transcending simple forms of school science investigations: can pre-service instruction foster teachers’ understandings of model-based inquiry? Am Educ Res J 43(4):783–835CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Windschitl M, Thompson J, Braaten M (2008) Beyond the scientific method: model-based inquiry as a new paradigm of preference for school science investigations. Sci Educ 92(5):941–967CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Utah State UniversityLoganUSA
  2. 2.Beijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Logan High SchoolLoganUSA

Personalised recommendations