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Understanding the mediating effect of learning approach between learning factors and higher order thinking skills in collaborative inquiry-based learning

Abstract

Collaborative inquiry-based learning (CIBL) is a notable instructional method used to nurture students’ higher order thinking skills. Few studies, however, have examined the mediating effect of learning approach (i.e., deep approach and surface approach) as an essential component in collaborative inquiry-based learning and the association between learning factors and higher order thinking skills. The present study conducted a semester-long survey of 80 college students who had studied using the collaborative inquiry-based learning approach. The mediating effects of learning approach on the association between four learning factors (i.e., intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, collaboration, and communication) and higher order thinking skills were examined using Partial least square (PLS) analyses. The results showed that deep approach served as a significant mediating variable in the relationship between the four learning factors and higher order thinking skills, while the surface approach did not. This study also found that collaboration was the only learning factor that had both indirect (via deep approach) and direct effects on higher order thinking skills. The fact that the relationship was examined in the collaborative inquiry-based learning context may explain the reasons for this. The findings of the study have practical implications for educators, indicating that guiding students to use the deep approach as often as possible may prove beneficial. Instructors can help students who use surface approach to gradually adjust to deep approach with careful instructional scaffoldings. Educators should also provide students with more opportunities to collaborate during inquiry-based learning activities.

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Data availability

The dataset will be provided on request after we finish this project.

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Funding

This work was partly supported by the Institute of Modern Educational Technology in Jiangsu Institute of Educational Science Research, China (No. 2020-R-84350) and the Institute of Higher Education in Nanjing Forestry University, China (No. 163290026).

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Correspondence to Rustam Shadiev.

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Lu, K., Pang, F. & Shadiev, R. Understanding the mediating effect of learning approach between learning factors and higher order thinking skills in collaborative inquiry-based learning. Education Tech Research Dev 69, 2475–2492 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-021-10025-4

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Keywords

  • Collaborative inquiry-based learning
  • Higher order thinking skills
  • Deep approach
  • Surface approach
  • Learning motivation
  • Interaction
  • Higher education