Roll - Inquiry

From LearnLab
Revision as of 22:57, 4 December 2009 by Idoroll (talk | contribs) (Research questions)
Jump to: navigation, search

Helping Students Become Better Scientists Using Structured Inquiry Tasks

Summary Table

PIs Ido Roll
Other Contributers Doug Bonn, James Day
Study Start Date Jan. 1, 2010
Study End Date May. 31, 2010
Site UBC (not a LeanLab site)
LearnLab Course Physics
Number of Students N = ~200
Total Participant Hours ~1,000.
DataShop no data yet


Scientific inquiry tasks have the potential to help students acquire deep understanding of domain knowledge, as well as improve their scientific reasoning skills. This project investigates scientific reasoning behaviors within one type of inquiry tasks - structured invention tasks. The project uses qualitative and quantitative methods to answer three questions: 1. What scientific reasoning skills are being practiced during structured invention tasks? 2. How well do these transfer across topics and along time? 3. How can these skills be supported and improved?

Background & Significance

Scientific reasoning skills consist an important class of SRL behaviors. While traditional inquiry tasks have inherent benefits of letting students practice key self-regulatory skills, they were shown to be inefficient, and often unproductive, means of instruction. In the absence of adequate support, students often flounder and are lost within the infinite range of possibilities (Veermans, de Jong & van Joolingen, 2000). Consequently, students often fail to learn the target concepts, or at least do not learn them as efficiently as with direct instruction (Kirschner, Sweller & Clark, 2006).

This project focuses on scientific reasoning behaviors during inquiry, and studies the relationships between scientific reasoning behavior and domain learning and motivation. I focus on the Invention as Preparation for Learning framework (IPL; Schwartz & Taylor, 2004; Roll, Aleven & Koedinger, 2009). In IPL students are asked to invent novel mathematical procedures prior to receiving direct instruction on the canonical procedures. IPL was shown to improve students’ domain knowledge and motivation (Kapur & Lee, 2009; Roll, Aleven & Koedinger, 2009; Schwartz & Taylor, 2004). At the same time, students demonstrated poor metacognitive behavior, and lack of learning at the metacognitive level (Roll, 2009).

The current project first seeks to identify the scientific reasoning skills that are being practiced in IPL. The second stage of the project assesses the transferability of these skills (across domain topics, and along time). Last, I will investigate the effect of supporting these skills on students' domain and metacognitive learning.


Research questions

The project has 3 steps, each of which focuses on a different research question:

Step 1: What scientific reasoning skills are being used and practiced during structured invention tasks?

Step 2: How well do these skills transfer across topics and along time (that is, is there learning of scientific-reasoning skills from one invention task to the next?)

Step 3: What support can best improve performance and learning of scientific reasoning skills?

Independent Variables

Dependent Variables




Further Information

Connections to Other Studies

Annotated Bibliography


Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75-86.

Klahr, D., & Dunbar, K. (1988). Dual space search during scientific reasoning. Cognitive Science, 12(1), 1-48.

Roll, I., Aleven, V., & Koedinger, K. R. (2009). Helping students know 'further' - increasing the flexibility of students' knowledge using symbolic invention tasks. In N. A. Taatgen, & H. van Rijn (Eds.), Proceedings of the 31st annual conference of the cognitive science society. (pp. 1169-74). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Schwartz, D. L., & Martin, T. (2004). Inventing to prepare for future learning: The hidden efficiency of encouraging original student production in statistics instruction. Cognition and Instruction, 22(2), 129-184.

Veermans, K., de Jong, T., & van Joolingen, W. R. (2000). Promoting self-directed learning in simulation-based discovery learning environments through intelligent support. Interactive Learning Environments, 8(3), 229-255.

Future Plans

Spring 2010: Do an ethnography in in a 1st year physics lab that uses invention tasks as a normal classroom practice.