The impact of light-weight inquiry with computer simulations on science learning in classrooms

Chia Jung Chang, Chen Chung Liu*, Cai Ting Wen, Li Wen Tseng, Hsin Yi Chang, Ming Hua Chang, Shih Hsun Fan Chiang, Fu-Kwun Hwang, Chih Wei Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Pedagogical design for science learning in classrooms often involves tension between the scientific community expectations and traditional curricular expectations. To address this issue, this study proposed a light-weight inquiry activity that can be pragmatically implemented in regular classrooms based on the minimalism principle and the teacher-led collaboration principle. Data gathered from 49 middle school students indicated that after learning in the light-weight inquiry condition, students demonstrated significant enhancements in the target science knowledge. In particular, the students in the light-weight inquiry condition displayed significantly higher levels of enhancement in scientific literacy than those who learned in the traditional lecturing condition. Furthermore, the students perceived a higher level of deep motivation and strategy but a lower level of memorizing science facts and calculating and practicing when they learned in the light-weight inquiry condition. The proposed pedagogical design demonstrated a positive impact on the learning of science knowledge, scientific literacy, and conceptions of learning and approaches to learning science. However, an unexpected effect was also observed, showing that the light-weight inquiry activity might also trigger surface motivation reflecting students' fear of failure in tests and the orientation to meet external expectations. The implications of the educational practice are discussed, and directions for future studies are also addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103770
JournalComputers and Education
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Mar


  • Improving classroom teaching
  • Pedagogical issues
  • Simulations
  • Teaching/learning strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Education


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