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Inquiry Science Rocks: Or Does It?
Although "inquiry teaching" has been a hot topic in science education for many years, it may be useful to reflect on some unresolved issues associated with it. The main point of this essay is that the relative effectiveness of different types of instructional "approaches" is not always investigated with the same rigor that permeates all strong scientific disciplines–clear definitions, well-defined empirical procedures, and data-driven conclusions. The second–and more contentious–point is that for many aspects of science instruction, "discovery learning" is often a less effective way to teach than a direct, didactic, and explicit type of instruction. Some in the physics education community may view this assertion as a foolhardy heresy, while for others it may be a dark secret that they have been reluctant to share with their colleagues. But heresies and secrets are hardly the way to discover and implement maximally effective instructional methods for teaching science.