Inquiry teaching and its effects on secondary-school students' learning of earth science concepts

Song Ling Mao*, Chun Yen Chang, James P. Barufaldi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of inquiry-based teaching and traditional teaching on student learning of earth-science concepts at the secondary-school level. A quasiexperimental non-equivalent control-group design was employed to identify any significant gains in student achievement. Students chosen to participate in the study included 232 earth-science students (9th grade) enrolled in six earth-science classes. The experimental group received two weeks of the inquiry-based instruction, whereas the control group received the traditional lecture-type instruction. Selected items from the Taiwan Indicators of Educational Progress in Science Process Skills and Taiwan Entrance Examinations for Senior High School were used to measure student learning of earth-science concepts. The data were analyzed with an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) on posttest scores with pretest as the covariate. The results indicated that students taught using inquiry-based instructional method scored significantly higher on the selected test items than those taught by a traditional teaching approach (F=6.75, p<.05). Most notably, there was significant improvement in achievement test performance, especially on the comprehensive (F =3.94, p.<05) and integrated (F=6.47, p.<0.05) test items but not on the "factual knowledge" (F = 3.43, p>0.05) test items.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-363
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Education - Geoscience
  • Education - Outside united states
  • Education secondary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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