IBSE research   |   Research paper

10/10/12  |  Research paper

Evaluating the potentials of IBSE approaches: what does the evidence say?

The EU benchmark report Science Education NOW: A Renewed Pedagogy for the Future of Europe (2007) promoted IBSE as a tool to improve how science is taught in schools. According to the report '… most of the science education community agrees … that pedagogical practices based on inquiry-based methods are more effective' (p. 9).

However, in the largest evaluation of the potential of inquiry-based approaches, Minner et al. (2010) suggested that only 51 per cent of the 138 studies showed positive impacts of some level of inquiry instruction on students’ content learning and retention. They commented that in ‘101 studies of student science conceptual understanding… there was no statistically significant association between the amount of inquiry saturation and increased student science conceptual learning’ (p.493). The issue that arises is not to abandon IBSE but rather to consider very carefully how to make IBSE approaches work well. Minner et al. have pointed out elements of IBSE that seem to be particularly effective: ‘the amount of active thinking, and emphasis on drawing conclusions from data, were in some instances significant predictors of the increased likelihood of student understanding of science content’ (p.493).

Read the Minner et al. synthesis report to find out more details on the value of IBSE in students’ understanding of science.


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