Sunday, 13 January 2002
Application of inquiry methods in student's original research projects
Leading the students toward independent thinking can be an arduous task, but if inquiry methods are continuously employed into teaching methodologies, students will make tremendous gains toward that end. From the onset of the academic year, Earth Science students at Chatham High School in Chatham, NJ undertake the inquiry process as they design and implement a 7-month research project. After receiving exposure to the inquiry process through various class activities, students select an area of Earth Science where they can make quantitative, real-time measurements on a regular basis, and create a research question focusing on the gathering and analysis of the data. In gaining background information, students are encouraged to seek outside professionals, such as those in the Office of New Jersey State Climatologist, for help in obtaining and understanding data. It is this type of relationship between the classroom and the professional that keeps the students excited about their individual projects, and helps them to see the validity of their efforts. Upon completion of the research projects, students have not only gained experience in original research, but they have grown as learners and are ready to ask deeper questions and seek the answers, independently.