Model progression denotes the organization of the inquiry learning process in successive phases of increasing complexity. This study investigated the effectiveness of model progression in general, and explored the added value of either broadening or narrowing students’ possibilities to change model progression phases. Results showed that high-school students in the ‘standard’ model progression condition (n = 19), who could enter subsequent phases at will, outperformed students from a control condition (n = 30) without model progression. The unrestricted condition (n = 22) had the additional option of returning to previous phases, whereas the restricted condition (n = 20) disallowed such downward progressions as well as upward progressions in case insufficient knowledge was acquired. Both variants were found to be more effective in terms of performance than the ‘standard’ form of model progression. However, as performance in all three model progression conditions was still rather weak, additional support is needed for students to reach full understanding of the learning content.