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Enquiry Learning Has Pitfalls, Science

Enquiry Learning Has Pitfalls

Enquiry Learning Has Pitfalls discusses problems arising from the introduction of Enquiry tasks to students in primary school. This conversation with my student illustrates many of them.

“What are you doing in Science?” I asked.

“We don’t do Science,” Year 5 student replied. This was the answer for several minutes of discussion.

“What do you mean? Of course, you do Science,” I said. His mother then became involved.

“We only do Enquiry,” Year 5 student clarified for me.

I delved into the mysteries of No Science, All Enquiry.

“Would you like to see my Enquiry Report on Biomes?” student said.

So, I was given a booklet he made about biomes.

  • It was about eight to ten pages of small sheets.
  • It had less than 100 words in it.
  • It had several diagrams that he had found on the net and pasted in.

My Assessment Of This Enquiry It took far too long to produce, about one month;

  • It had never been assessed by the teacher; and
  • there was no assessment or teacher’s comments in the School Report, according to the parent.
  • The student was unable to use the advanced information from the internet sites to gain any understanding of biomes.
  • He could not use the vocabulary correctly.
  • I had to prompt him when he felt around for the word “tundra”, but he could not tell me where the Arctic is located.
  • When I asked him about information in his graphics and diagrams, he could not explain them.
  • He had not learned that “coniferous” is the adjective of the word “conifer” in reference to coniferous forests in his Report. Nor did he know what a conifer is.

What Went Wrong

  • Although he had a question to prompt his Enquiry project, it had somehow got lost.
  • The terms of the Enquiry were far too broad.
  • No preparatory reading was done in class, with the class.
  • Although videos were shown to the class, very little was gleaned from them, even though instructed to take notes.
  • Very basic information, such as a definition of a biome, was not acquired and not taught.

Putting Enquiry Learning Right

I agree completely with Professor John Hattie when he says that Enquiry sounds terrific and that the logic of Enquiry learning is well argued. The evidence, however, indicates that it is introduced too early.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUooOYbgSUg


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