It is a well known fact that science education is undergoing a decline in Europe and elsewhere. Research conducted recently shows that many of the students who graduate from high school today cannot understand what is happening in the world around them and this may affect their decisions as informed citizens. The purpose of modern science education is not the knowledge of laws and theories, but the acquisition of key ideas which enable students to understand the phenomena and relevant events that they witness.
On the other hand a major threat to the future of Europe: science education is far from attracting crowds and in many countries the trend is worsening and the origins of this situation can be found, among other causes, in the way science is taught. Improvements in science education should be brought about through new forms of pedagogy: the introduction of inquiry-based approaches in schools, actions for teachers training to IBSE, and the development of teachers’ networks should be actively promoted and supported (M.Rocard et al.).
By definition, inquiry is the intentional process of diagnosing problems, critiquing experiments, and distinguishing alternatives, planning investigations, researching conjectures, searching for information, constructing models, debating with peers, and forming coherent arguments (M.C. Linn, E.A.Davis, P. Bell.)
During the teaching activities focused on the Inquiry-based learning – IBL students are required to formulate their own questions, to formulate hypotheses, to design scientific investigations, to collaborate, to process the acquired data, to present the information in different formats, to communicate in different ways in order to share results, to reflect on their own knowledge – benefiting from their teacher’s help. The method puts students in the position of researchers to formulate hypotheses, to look for scientific truths themselves organizing experimental situations, to discover the logic of science appreciating the causal connections, in one word to get acquainted with the peculiarities of a scientific endeavor. In this way, students will achieve a better understanding of topics and a better development of skills and competences. Lastly, it leads to the improvement of their intrinsic motivation, critical thinking, and an increase of their problem-solving ability, as well as their skills of collaboration and communication and creativity (M. Garabet, A.M. Baldea)
Inquiry-based learning (IBL) is suitable for all ages, it is a natural form of learning. Very young children get to know the world through their senses, being attracted to all things that shine, stimulating their curiosity and wondering: “What’s that?” “Is it good?”. This is the natural way and the type of behavior that draws students to research and exploration (A.L. Costa).
‘Inquiry’ is referred to in the science education literature to designate at least three distinct but interlinked categories of activity: what scientists do (investigating scientific phenomena by using scientific methods in order to explain aspects of the physical world); how students learn (by pursuing scientific questions and engaging in scientific experiments by emulating the practices and processes used by scientists); and a pedagogy, or teaching strategy, adopted by science teachers (designing and facilitating learning activities that allow students to observe, experiment and review what is known in light of evidence) (D.D.Minner, A.J. Levy, J.Century).
M.Rocard et al. “Science Education now: A new Pedagogy for the Future of Europe”. European Commission Directorate-General for Research Information and Communication Unit, 2007,
M.C. Linn, E.A.Davis, P. Bell. “Inquiry and Technology”. Internet Environments for Science Education (pp. 3-28). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004
A.L. Costa, “The school as a home for the mind”. Palatine, IL, Skylight Publishing, 1991
D.D.Minner, A.J. Levy, J.Century. “Inquiry-based science instruction—what is it and does it matter? Results from a research synthesis years 1984 to 2002”. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47, pp 474–496, 2010.)