Shifting Towards Inquiry-Orientated Learning in a High School Outreach Program


  • Tom Gordon
  • Manjula D. Sharma
  • Helen Georgiou
  • Matthew Hill


This paper presents results of an examination the effect of the introduction of inquiry-orientated learning, IOL, activities into the formal education outreach program for senior high school Physics students run by School of Physics at the University of Sydney, ‘Kickstart Physics.’ This is the flagship outreach program from the Faculty of Science and accommodates approximately a quarter of the total number of students that sit the state Physics exam. The project considered how students arrive at different inquiry-orientated outcomes such as making hypotheses, displaying and interpreting data, validity, reliability, as well as the mental effort reported by the students during the Kickstart workshop. Results from a survey developed for this study show that a significant increase in mental effort was applied by the students in the inquiry-orientated logbook. In addition, the results presented here suggest that the existing, non-modified logbook, based on the current state (NSW) syllabus, has a strong inquiry focus. The methodology was to survey Senior high school students taking part in the Kickstart workshops. Some were given a logbook to accompany the session designed from the NSW Physics syllabus, and some were given a logbook designed around inquiry-orientated learning. The content related to the syllabus for each workshop remained constant.






Published paper