A study on the effects of model-based inquiry pedagogy on students' inquiry skills in a virtual physics lab

Jingying Wang, Donghui Guo, Min Jou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract STEM integrated education has become the guiding principle of science education in many countries and a focus of research efforts. Developmental features of STEM education focus on using technology as a bridge to integrate multiple subjects. The focus on new technologies and practical applications are its major principles, and the aim of STEM education is to train a new generation of multi-skilled professionals capable of integrating knowledge from different fields of study to solve problems effectively. High school science courses based upon technological science models and science investigations have become the major means and methods for STEM education. For the past one hundred years, efforts of elementary education reforms worldwide have been focused on scientific inquiry. The development, utilization, evaluation, and revision of various scientific models and theories play a central role in scientific inquiry. Therefore, model-based inquiry would be crucial in improving the learning of science subjects. This study is based upon results from past MBI pedagogies research carried out by renowned academicians worldwide and incorporated a virtual physics lab developed for this study to create the MBI-VPL pedagogy method. Six main learning modules were designed, namely (1) topic introduction, (2) hands-on experiment, (3) virtual experiment, (4) team work, (5) actual applications, and (6) model adjustments. Results of experimental teaching showed that MBI and MBI-VPL pedagogy were more effective in developing student scientific inquiry skills compared to traditional methods, with significant improvements in the performance of process skills, comprehensive skills, learning attitude, communication skills, and reflection skills. The MBI-VPL pedagogy was able to introduce virtual physics experiment design and analysis, allowing students to gain in-depth practice of process skills, comprehensive skills, and reflection skills of scientific inquiry. Differences were also observed in the development of scientific inquiry skills during the experimental course between students of different genders. Boys performed better in process skills and comprehensive skills, while girls performed better in learning attitude and communications. The degree of student acceptance for the six major learning modules in the MBI-VPL model also showed that students tend to accept the use of process, comprehensive, and reflective skills of the virtual experiment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3182
Pages (from-to)658-669
Number of pages12
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Sept 1


  • Inquiry skills
  • Model-based inquiry
  • Virtual physics lab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • General Psychology


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