Teachers often hear that students cannot think critically, ask thoughtful questions, or analyze text. While many students may find these actions challenging, teaching through inquiry is an effective way to engage students, improve their problem-solving skills, and help them achieve long-term concept retention. Inquiry enhances scientific literacy by engaging students in logical, scientific rationale and argumentation, and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) efforts emphasize the importance of inquiry in science education. But, what does inquiry look like? How do teachers and students perform it successfully in the classroom, and how does a traditional science classroom evolve into an inquiry-based classroom?
We have intended this course for upper elementary and middle school teachers (Grades 3–8) who want to learn how to successfully implement scientific inquiry in their classroom. After taking this course, teachers will understand what inquiry is and recognize the benefits of inquiry-based teaching and learning. They will learn how to transform activities and experiments into inquiry-based investigations and also learn how to assess inquiry. Additionally, the course presents a developmentally appropriate, step-by-step approach for using all levels of scientific inquiry with argumentation. By the end of this course, teachers will be able to effectively transform their current classroom into an inquiry-based environment that supports students and inspires them to learn.