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IBSE reports   |   IBSE literature review

24/10/13  |  IBSE literature review

PATHWAY: The Features of Inquiry Learning: theory, research and practice


This paper has been produced as part of the Pathway project and ‘offers a review of current literature relating to the features of inquiry-based science education (IBSE) in formal and informal settings for learners of school age.’

Pathway aims to support the delivery of science education, through inquiry, by the development of guidelines and dissemination of methods and exemplary cases, to allow the development of collaborative communities of practitioners.

The document defines what is meant by IBSE, which, due to its flexible and wide reaching nature, is difficult to pinpoint. Their definition is summarised here.

The authors discuss the historical development and adoption of IBSE, as a preferred method of authentic science education and place this within the educational theory of revered philosophers- such as Dewy and Piaget.

The paper  summarises the inquiry types for IBSE (namely; Structured, guided and open), what teaching methods are best used to achieve these and the merits of each type. From this, the writers have devised ‘essential features’ of IBSE which are placed within a proposed framework, related to established pedagogical frameworks.

‘Elements of effective practice’ are explained (including; experiments, projects and assessment), along with the importance of information literacy- in relation to effective IBSE and education in general- and how formal and informal spaces do and should facilitate and exploit IBSE effectively.

Download this resource here.

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