Capstone/Dissertation Title

Reshelving the Cookbook: Engaging Learners in Science through Student-Driven Inquiry

Term

Summer 8-8-2014

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAEd

Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Naomi Taylor

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Pam Schilling

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Sara Strahota

Abstract

This project addresses the research question, "How does increasing the amount of student-driven inquiry in my science classroom impact fourth grade students' motivation, engagement level and feelings about science?" It documents an elementary science teacher's attempt to shift from "cookbook" science lessons, where students typically know the outcome prior to the investigation, toward a more inquiry-based curriculum. The author reviews literature related to inquiry learning in elementary classrooms to validate the study. She gathers data from student interest surveys, observational notes and student work samples to support her conclusions. The author describes successes and challenges during implementation and concludes that, while there was some measureable increase in student engagement and motivation during the study, a sustained implementation of inquiry in the classroom would provide more conclusive results.

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