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Student Roles in Research: Finding the Balance between Independence and Guidance for Inquiry Learning

Paper presented by J. Shirk and M.E. Krasny at the 87th Annual Meetings of the Ecological Society of America. Tucson, AZ, 2002.

Whereas national science education standards call for more inquiry learning in K-12 classrooms, definitions of inquiry vary widely and a need exists to evaluate various methods for engaging students in this style of learning. One inquiry approach involves students in conducting authentic research. We undertook a study to determine whether students who define their own research questions are more invested in their project than students presented with a question to investigate. Indications are that students will choose questions that inspire their interest through relevance and curiosity, but that a balance is necessary between allowing independence in research design and guiding the process for novice researchers' success.



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