Comparison of the effects of inquiry-based cooperative learning and demonstrations in science education
The reported research project involved studying how teaching science using demonstrations, inquiry-based cooperative learning groups, or a combination of the two methods affected sixth grade students’ understanding of air pressure and density. Three different groups of students were each taught the two units using different teaching methods. Group one learned about the topics through both demonstrations and inquirybased cooperative learning, whereas group two only viewed demonstrations, and group three only participated in inquiry-based learning in cooperative learning groups.
The study was designed to answer the following two questions:
1. Which teaching strategy works best for supporting student understanding of air pressure and density: demonstrations, inquirybased labs in cooperative learning groups, or a combination of the two?
2. And what effect does the time spent engaging in a particular learning experience (demonstrations or labs) have on student learning?
Overall, the data did not provide sufficient evidence that one method of learning was more effective than the others. The results also suggested that spending more time on a unit does not necessarily equate to a better understanding of the concepts by the students. Implications for science instruction are discussed.