Dissertation

 

Inquiry-based learning environments to welcome the diversity of a chemistry class
Mag. Sandra Puddu

Inquiry-based learning environments have the potential to deal with the diverse learning needs of students surfacing also in science classrooms. As inquiry-based science education facilitates the engagement of students across the ability range, it is often recommended by experts in science education. Suitable inquiry-based learning environments have to be designed and successively implemented in science classrooms according to the students’ individual needs to welcome their diversity. Accompanying research is needed to determine the conditions that are conducive and relevant for successful implementation of inquiry-based learning environments in diverse science classrooms. I have decided to take a closer look at this question at classroom level to be highly detailed about the conditions surfacing in a diverse classroom. A case study has thus been carried out with a group of ninth-grade urban business school students to observe and analyze the challenges to be dealt with in a diverse class when implementing inquiry-based learning. Besides video and audio recordings, field notes and interviews, the questionnaire “Views on Scientific Inquiry” (VOSI) as well as questionnaires concerning academic self-concept and attitude towards science were used. In addition, the students’ task sheets enrich the dense picture I have gained of the inquiry-based work done in this diverse class. The results of the case study show specifically how important it is for a teacher to know the students’ individual learning needs and how to scaffold the inquiry-based learning tasks in relation to the students’ language and attainment levels. Student diversity will be illustrated in detail by the empirical data and it will be shown how the inquiry-based learning environment has welcomed their diverse needs.