P362: Improving chemistry content understanding and critical thinking through evidence-based inquiry learning
Chemistry education research has shown a correlation between guided inquiry learning approaches and improved content understanding and critical thinking. Students’ sense of control in the learning process appears to be a substantial factor affecting student engagement in guided inquiry. This study investigates the effects of model- and evidence-based inquiry learning on student understanding of essential chemistry concepts. Two different classroom treatments were applied to three chemistry classes over the same term in an urban high school. The first treatment involved guided inquiry instruction in which students used models and laboratory evidence to construct their own understanding of chemical reactions. The second treatment (or control) involved the traditional sequence of learning in which the teacher disseminates knowledge. Initial findings suggest that guided inquiry instruction promotes deeper understanding and retention of chemical concepts. These result suggests that guided inquiry learning may maximize the likelihood that students will reflect upon relevant concepts and engage in processes that promote deeper understanding.