The problem with answers: An exploration of guided scientific inquiry teaching


  • The findings and opinions expressed in this report do not reflect the positions or policies of the National Institute on Student Achievement, Curriculum, and Assessment, the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, or the U.S. Department of Education


Guided scientific inquiry investigations are designed to have students reach particular answers through the thinking processes and activities of scientists. This presents a difficult challenge for teachers who must selectively hold back answers from students to maintain an atmosphere that encourages student-directed inquiry. The present study explores the different ways that three teachers describe and manage this problem with answers in a middle school physical science investigation. While one teacher managed the problem by treating the investigation as a game, another teacher accepted his students' ideas without evaluation, and the third spent considerable time rationalizing his teaching strategies to students. Researchers and policymakers need to explore the role of answers in guided scientific inquiry teaching so that they may better equip practitioners to address these problems when they arise. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed90:453–467, 2006