An investigation of the place of inquiry-based learning in chemistry laboratories in senior secondary school and first-year university


  • Michael G. S. Calarese Curtin University, WA.
  • Alexandra Yeung Curtin University
  • Mauro Mocerino Curtin University
  • David Treagust Curtin University


guided inquiry, preliminary survey, university students' perceptions of laboratories


One of the most important aspects of science education is understanding how evidence, data, and models explain the natural world. Laboratory work strengthens this understanding by linking content knowledge to science practices and promoting student inquiry. Inquiry within chemistry education is generally taught through laboratory experiments, ranging from traditional, guided inquiry and open inquiry experiments (Furtak et al., 2012). This poster will look at the preliminary results from 152 undergraduate Curtin University students who completed year 11 chemistry. A questionnaire derived from five Likert scales (Chatterjee et al., 2009; Cheung, 2011; Fraser et al., 1993) was used to understand students' past experiences with inquiry types and if changes should be made to the level taught at year 11. The results showed strong support for guided inquiry laboratories compared to open and procedural laboratories. While guided inquiry was favoured, students acknowledged that conducting procedural experiments better develops practical skills. Additionally, participants had to match the most frequent type of inquiry to a scenario with students struggling to decide between open and guided inquiry; students more uniformly identified procedural laboratories. 


Chatterjee, S., Williamson, V. M., McCann, K., & Peck, M. L. (2009). Surveying students' attitudes and perceptions toward guided-inquiry and open-inquiry laboratories. Journal of Chemical Education, 86(12), 1427.

Cheung, D. (2011). Teacher beliefs about implementing guided-inquiry laboratory experiments for secondary school chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education, 88(11), 1462-1468.

Fraser, B. J., McRobbie, C. J., & Giddings, G. J. (1993). Development and cross-national validation of a laboratory classroom environment instrument for senior high school science. Science Education, 77(1), 1-24.

Furtak, E. M., Seidel, T., Iverson, H., & Briggs, D. C. (2012). Experimental and quasi-experimental studies of inquiry-based science teaching: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 82(3), 300-329.

Author Biographies

Michael G. S. Calarese, Curtin University, WA.

PhD student from Curtin University, WA, specialising in Chemistry Education.

Alexandra Yeung, Curtin University

School of Molecular and Life Sciences

Mauro Mocerino, Curtin University

School of Molecular and Life Sciences

David Treagust, Curtin University

School of Education