Date of Award

1-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Education and Human Development

Abstract

Educators as a whole are challenged to reach ever changing learning standards for their students while struggling with a limited amount of time to do so. Many teachers know that using a traditional approach when teaching is not always the most engaging, but they use it because they can move through the curriculum at a faster pace. This thesis project examines the perceived differences between and benefits of inquiry-based lessons versus traditional lessons and teaching styles in a science classroom. Using Gardner’s stated learning styles, it also discusses if the inquiry-based method or traditional teaching method caters to more learning styles in the classroom. Acknowledging that inquiry-based lessons require more time to prepare and execute, the overarching question of this research project regards which teaching method, inquiry or traditional, provides better assessment results, creates more enthusiasm for science, and increases the confidence of students in order to allow them to verbalize and apply their newly acquired knowledge.

This research was conducted in a rural school district in a middle school of approximately 600 students. The seventeen participants were in two different classes, labeled as Class A and Class B. Class A represented the class that was instructed with the inquiry-based method and Class B, the traditional method. Questions were formulated to identify which method of instruction produces better assessment results, and evokes a more enthusiastic attitude towards science for sixth grade special education students. Data gathered and compared for the study includes: results of pre and post assessments, student surveys, and student interviews. The conclusions drawn from this project solidify the desire to and importance of increasing inquiry-based science lessons in order to increase student mastery of content knowledge and motivation to learn.

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