Another Coffin Nail for Inquiry-Based Learning


Greg Ashman, Another Big Fail for Inquiry Learning, points out the following findings:
The UK’s Education Endowment Foundation (EEF)...[tested the efficacy of] an inquiry-based learning programme...to science students and measured the impact on science performance. There wasn’t any. There also was no impact on self-efficacy in science (a key component of motivation) and the proportion of students aspiring to a scientific career, although small positive impacts were estimated for confidence and attitude to school...This finding also aligns with correlational evidence from PISA that the more students engage in inquiry-based science, the worse their PISA science score.
It may be too quick to say this is a nail in the coffin of inquiry-based learning. However, it does raise the question, "Have we been supporting instructional approaches with no research behind them?"

Consider these points, excerpted a from much longer blog entry:
Hattie found that inquiry-based teaching  had a effect size of 0.31. Critiques of Hattie’s work have mentioned the problem with the arbitrary setting of a cut-off of 0.4 as an effect size, i.e. implying that any approach below 0.4 is not worth pursuing.
I've shared my own concerns, but have come around to the simple (perhaps, incorrect) idea that Hattie's meta-analyses put together more research in one place than a lot of other places. As a result, I agree that inquiry-based learning doesn't go far without building up student background knowledge in the first place via direct instruction (.59) or the many other surface learning strategies available.

What does this mean from an edtech perspective? It means that we can't just drop inquiry-based learning and PBL into the mix with tech tools and expect it's going to work. The truth is, we need to beef up on instructional strategies that accelerate student growth.


Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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