Journal of East China Normal University(Educationa ›› 2018, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (4): 107-121+165+166.doi: 10.16382/j.cnki.1000-5560.2018.04.011

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What Happens in Scientific Inquiry in Middle School Classroom: An Empirical Study Based on Multiple Cases

PEI Xinning1, LIU Xinyang2   

  1. 1. College of Teacher Education, Faculty of Education, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China;
    2. Department of Educational Technology, Faculty of Education, Shandong Normal University, Jinan 250014, China
  • Online:2018-07-20 Published:2018-07-05

Abstract: The emerging forms of science education in the world have challenged the ideas and practice of scientific inquiry. However, scientific inquiry, aiming at developing students' scientific understanding by their engaging in science practice, is still the essential approach to science education for the 21st century. From the socio-cultural perspective of learning, and using a cross-culturally contextual thinking, the authors conduct two interrelated sub-studies to track the instructional process of nine middle school science teachers in city W. The study describes the overall features of their inquiry-based science teaching, and demonstrates the underlying process structure and detailed characteristics. Moreover, the study reveals that science classroom in middle schools has the general structure of scientific inquiry process, and the teacher-led collective dialogic inquiry-session has shown positive effect, but at the expense of students' active experience and autonomy gen-erally. For teachers, partial understanding of scientific inquiry, lack of pedagogical strategies and tools to support students' inquiries, as well as external influences from organized evaluating-class and trainings, could possibly impede them to conduct an authentic inquiry-based science teaching.

Key words: scientific inquiry, inquiry-based science teaching, science education reform, middle school