This study investigated whether the mere knowledge of the meaning of variables can facilitate inquiry learning processes and outcomes. Fifty-seven college freshmen were randomly allocated to one of three inquiry tasks. The concrete task had familiar variables from which hypotheses about their underlying relations could be inferred. The intermediate task used familiar variables that did not invoke underlying relations, whereas the abstract task contained unfamiliar variables that did not allow for inference of hypotheses about relations. Results showed that concrete participants performed more successfully and efficiently than intermediate participants, who in turn were equally successful and efficient as abstract participants. From these findings it was concluded that students learning by inquiry benefit little from knowledge of the meaning of variables per se. Some additional understanding of the way these variables are interrelated seems required to enhance inquiry learning processes and outcomes.
- Inquiry learning
- Prior knowledge
- Computer simulations
Lazonder, A. W., Wilhelm, P., & van Lieburg, E. (2009). Unraveling the influence of domain knowledge during simulation-based inquiry learning. Instructional science, 37(5), 437-451. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11251-008-9055-8