The Effects of Guided Inquiry Instruction on Students’ Achievement and Understanding of the Nature of Science in Environmental Biology Course

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
Science textbooks coupled with appropriate instructional strategies play a pivotal role in conveying the educational reform documents vision through students’ teaching and learning of the three domains of science: the body of content knowledge, scientific process skills and the nature of the scientific knowledge. The purpose of this study is two folds: 1) to investigate students’ views of the nature of science (NOS) based on the newly implemented science curriculum, the Hartcourt International, in United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) public schools and 2) to investigate the impact of guided-inquiry of instruction in teaching the environmental biology subject and the NOS aspects with students. Seventy six tenth-grade students distributed amongst 4 mutual exclusive classes participated in this study. The respective classes are randomly divided into two intact groups: experimental and control groups. The experimental group is taught using the guided inquiry instruction during theoretical classes and laboratory activities, which based on grappling with guided-inquiry questions and practicing science as process skills. The control group is taught using the traditional strategies, without incorporating the guided inquiry instruction and the science process-skills. A modified NOS scale adopted from Wenning (2006), Iqbal et al. (2009) and the doctorate thesis of Larson-Miller (2011), and an environmental biology achievement test from the Hurtcourt International biology assessment guide book are used as pre and post-tests for measuring the effect of guided inquiry instruction on both students’ NOS conceptions and biology achievements respectively. Results reveal that the students’ NOS conceptions in the pre-case are still wanting. Moreover, implementing the guided inquiry instruction in teaching the environmental biology subject has significant effect in improving the students’ academic achievement. However, this kind of instruction alone seems to be insufficient in developing NOS conceptions in the students. Differences in the total average scores between pre- and post-NOS scale are not statically significant for both the experimental and control groups. It is possible that more explicit instructional approaches are needed to be investigated for their effectiveness in achieving NOS understandings in students’ minds.
guided inquiry, nature of science, students, academic achievement, reform education