Developing Expertise for
Welcome! This page provides perspectives, general practices and links to resources for helping students to develop expertise for conducting empirical inquiries in science & technology. Such inquiries enable students to Judge Ideas, which is a major phase of my constructivism-informed pedagogical framework. If you have comments, questions, suggestions, resource ideas, etc. about anything here, please write to me about them. Thanks.
inquiry' is an uncertain and debated term, but
often refers to investigations intended to
document and explain phenomena of the world. It is
part of what is classically thought of as
'science,' and is intended to ask such questions
as: 'Why is the sky blue?,' 'How does inheritance
work?,' 'How does gravity affect the transmission
of light?' Although questions of this sort are
investigated by what is thought of as 'science,'
it is unclear how such questions and activities
are related to what is called 'technology' (or
'engineering') and, as well, how 'science' and
'technology' relate to societies and environments.
Discussions about such relationships are provided
at: NoST, STSE, and WISE Issues.
Although there is considerable uncertainty and debate about the meaning of 'science inquiry,' ideas and resources provided here are organized - for pragmatic reasons - according to the highly stylized framework for science and technology at SciTech Strategies. In this simplistic framework, as indicated in the schema at right, 'science inquiry' implies that investigators use 'experiments' and 'studies' to empirically evaluate predictions and hypotheses. NoST studies suggest that investigators do not always do so, such as in the case of Einstein's development of the theory of Special Relativity. Nevertheless, much of science inquiry does involve studies and experiments - ideas and resources for which are provided below. Accordingly, it is important to help students to develop expertise (e.g., skills & attitudes) for conducting these kinds of inquiries. In doing so, it is important to not that the inquiries that students may eventually conduct using skills addressed here are to be student-directed and open-ended - which means that they are NOT the kinds of inquiries that are traditionally used to reinforce 'products' (e.g., laws & theories) of science.
There are various approaches for helping students to develop skills they could use for conducting experiments and/or studies, but resources here are based on the constructivism-based approach at Skills Pedagogy. Accordingly, resources are provided for helping students to express their pre-instructional skills for science inquiry (on this page) and to develop skills for conducting experiments and studies (on two separate pages).
by my Skills
Pedagogy, students and teachers can
benefit from encouraging students to 'express'
their pre-instructional skills. This implies
that students might demonstrate their skills
and discuss them, given that skills have a
conceptual aspect (refer to Concepts
Evidence). After and/or while they
express their skills, teachers can provide
them with some alternatives for their
consideration. For science inquiry as
interpreted here, that implies developing
skills for experimentation
and studies -
addressed on separate pages.
Regardless of which of these kinds of approaches teachers decide to use, it is crucial that they remain largely student-directed & open-ended. Otherwise, students' responses may be less about them and more about their instructor! Teachers may struggle, for example, with the 'quality' of students' responses and may be tempted to ask them to consider various inquiry design strategies; such as the extent to which they have controlled variables.