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Date of Award


Document Type

Master's report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Science Education (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences

First Advisor

Bradley Baltensperger


This research project was designed to test whether use of a “how-to” guide to inquiry style could help teachers adopt inquiry- teaching methods.

Would teachers take advantage of an easy-to-follow reference guide designed to help them quickly adjust a traditional lesson plan to utilize more inquiry-based instruction? This style of teaching can be intimidating to the teacher who is comfortable with a traditional lesson plan of reading a text, taking notes, writing definitions and vocabulary. Such a reference guide would be designed to serve as a helpful tool to the teacher who is interested in trying an inquiry format, but doesn’t really know much about the process. The desired outcome is that without extensive training, a teacher could use this reference guide to develop an inquiry-based lesson with little challenge.

To test this idea, I created a pre survey and post survey, and a reference guide that included a lesson plan template to follow. A group of teachers who participate in one elementary school’s science committee was selected for study. Once all participants accepted the invitation to participate in this investigation, they were provided with the pre-survey and the reference guide with the lesson plan template. They were given a time frame in which to create a lesson following the reference sheet and were asked to record the lesson plan on the lesson template. After all of the selected teachers completed the test, a post survey was given to each teacher to determine their opinions of the reference guide and to follow up to see if any of them had since incorporated more inquiry lessons in the classroom.

Overall, the data showed that an easy-to-use reference guide could help the general education teacher become more comfortable with using inquiry-based lessons more often in the classroom. Implications of these findings lead me to conclude that inquiry style teaching does not have to be presented to teachers in a formal way in order for the practice to be utilized in the classroom. If a teacher wanted to implement inquiry in the classroom this method of learning could efficiently be adapted with an easy-to-use reference. If further professional development on this style of teaching was to be offered, the reference guide could provide a quick experience with inquiry teaching for a teacher who would like to give this style of teaching a try. It could be used as a method to try out before a more in depth training for a teacher on the topic. This way the teacher has a background to connect with, as she is experiencing training on inquiry style teaching. This approach could save time for the already busy teacher and save school district funds on implementation.