Transformation of Cookbook Practicals into Inquiry Oriented Learning

Brianna L. Julien, Louise A. Lexis

Abstract


Educators are being implored to revitalise science teaching by engaging students as active participants in science, encouraging curiosity and linking the classroom to the real world. We introduced a 5-week team-based inquiry oriented learning project into a first-semester advanced human physiology program to replace four stand-alone exercise physiology cookbook laboratories. The project was designed to promote fundamental research skill development (hypotheses, aims, data presentation in the form of graphs, and conclusions) and foster authentic collaboration between students. Student-teams designed simple experiments, collected and statistically analysed data, and presented the results in scientific format. The project significantly (p<0.05) increased team participation when compared to the cookbook laboratories. Students received significantly (p<0.05) higher scores for subsequently-written aims and conclusions when compared to students who had completed the cookbook laboratories and required less assistance on the skills targeted by the project on a future research project. Students recognise the importance of the project for providing a scaffold for developing scientific research and team work skills. Our model could be used across the scientific field to maintain gains in content-knowledge afforded by cookbook practicals and to develop important skills expected of science graduates to prepare them to solve challenges of the 21st century.

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