Learning mathematics through inquiry; a large scale evaluation

Ton de Jong, Petra Hendrikse, Hans van der Meij

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Mathematics education is changing from a procedure-oriented approach to one in which concepts and their relations take a central place. Inquiry environments offer students the opportunity to investigate a domain and to focus on conceptual aspects. In this chapter, we describe a learning arrangement that has a set of guided simulations in mathematics as its core. These guided simulations were linked to a (standard) book; in addition, classroom conversations and subject-matter overviews supported the learning process. Learning took place over 12 school weeks during which a considerable part of the domain concentrating on functions was covered. The learning material, especially the simulation environment, was iteratively developed as part of a design experiment. The final version was evaluated against a standard classroom situation. A total of 11 schools, 20 classes, and 418 students participated. Results show that the traditional classroom condition outperformed the inquiry class on procedural items with a correction for pretest scores included. The inquiry condition acquired better scores on conceptual (insight) items but these differences did not reach significance. Overall, girls performed better in the traditional classroom setting, whereas boys seemed to profit from an inquiry setting. It also appeared that the implementation of the inquiry (computer-based) learning arrangement was hampered by many organizational and practical problems. Recommendations for improvement are provided.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesigns for learning environments of the future
Subtitle of host publicationInternational perspectives from the learning sciences
EditorsMichael J. Jacobson, Peter Reiman
Place of PublicationNew York, NY
ISBN (Print)9780387882796
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Mathematics learning
  • Inquiry learning
  • Large-scale evaluation
  • Computer simulations
  • SimQuest
  • Conceptual knowledge
  • Procedural knowledge


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