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Keywords:

  • chemistry;
  • laboratory science;
  • discourse analysis

Abstract

This study explores effects of participation by second-semester college general chemistry students in an extended, open-inquiry laboratory investigation. Verbal interactions among a student lab team and with their instructor over three open-inquiry laboratory sessions and two non-inquiry sessions were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed. Coding categories were developed using the constant comparison method. Findings indicate that, during open-inquiry activities, the student team interacted less often, sought less instructor guidance, and talked less about chemistry concepts than during their non-inquiry activities. Evidence suggests that the students employed science process skills and engaged in higher-order thinking during both types of laboratory activities. Implications for including open-inquiry experiences in general chemistry laboratory programs on student understanding of science as inquiry are discussed. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 44: 1160–1186, 2007