Research on Inquiry-based learning

This post is related to the DaVinci2020 project in Norway. The project introduces and implements STEM education at two primary schools. An important goal is to apply Inquiry-based learning and Hands-on learning.
STEM (Science, Technology and Mathematics) and the interdisciplinary tasks within it, are not part of the official Norwegian curriculum.


The UK has had a strong focus on science education and introduced and implemented science education at primary school level in sixties and seventies. After 1996 many countries have included technique or technology in science education.

Projects in different countries:
  • UK – Nuffield Science 5-13, STC, FOSS, Insights
  • France – Insights 1996
  • Sweden – STC 1996 -> Naturvitenskap og Teknikk for Alle (NTA)
  • Berlin – STC 2004 (Science Technology and Children)
  • Netherlands – VTB, Talentenkracht
  • EU – Fibonacci project
The effect of Inquiry-Based Science Education – Results from research:

Pupils who received science education using inquiry based learning scored higher on science achievement tests than pulpils taught using the traditional approach. M.A. Selim & R.L. Shrigley, R. L. (1983). The group dynamics approach: A sociopsychological approach for testing the effect of discovery and expository teaching on the science achievement and attitude of young Egyptian students. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 20(3), 213–224.

Attitude towards technology is more positive after girls participated 1-2 years in technology club. Self-confidence is higher. Attitude towards career in technology is more influenced by society as a whole. Creativity and design are important factors to appreciate technology. E.van Eck, M.Volman, 1999. Techniek, leuke hobby, saaie baan? Eindrapport evaluatie Technika 10 Plus. Kohnstamm Instituut/Vrije Universiteit.

Attitudes towards science increased and students were more interested in science careers. After four years the positive attitude towards science had decreased but was still considerably higher than with other students. H.L. Gibson, Ch. Chase (2002). Longitudal Impact of an Inquiry-based Science program on Middle School Students’Attitudes Toward Science.

Pupils from 7th and 8th grade participated in a year and a half program in project-based science education. Thereafter their scores on standard statewise test were 20% higher. They had a better understanding and better process skills. Higher scores were measured in all science subjects, not only in the areas that were covered by the program. Geier (2007). Standardized Test Outcomes for StudentsEngaged in Inquiry-Based Science Curricula in the Context of Urban Reform. Journal of Research in Science Education. Vol.45, no.8, pp. 922-939.

The positive effect from inquiry-based learning is higher when combined with hands-on learning, thus when learners manipulate and investigate by using artefacts and materials. D.D. Minner et al. (2009). Inquiry-based Science Instruction- What is it and does it matter? results from Research Sythesis Years 1984-2002. Wiley InterScience, online:

Students in the hands-on classes are more favorable to science and have a better understanding of the nature of science than students in textbook classes. SB.J. Foley and C. McPhee, 2008. Students’ Attitudes towards Science in Classes Using Hands-On or Textbook Based Curriculum. AERA.

Undervisning av Inquiry based learning er viktig og vanskelig og for å være effektivt trenger lærerne 80-160 timer etterutdanning. T. van Eijck, E van de Berg (2011), Effecten van nascholing Wetenschap en techniek in het Pimair Onderwijs in de regio Amsterdam, Tijdschrift voor Didactiek en Beta-wetenschappen. 28, nr. 2