Do Primary Science Educators Know that Enquiry Based Learning is Problematic?

I’m looking for articles on direct, explicit instruction in primary science but there is almost none. I’ve gone through all of the past editions of the ASEs Journal of Emergent Science and Primary Science, but it’s overwhelmingly enquiry based learning.

This is a big problem, because although pupils and teachers love enquiry, evidence shows that at best enquiry-based instruction is inefficient. At worst it widens gaps.

The obvious general paper to recommend is Clark, Kirshner and Sweller’s Putting Students on the Path to Learning: the Case for Fully Guided Instruction. I’ve also found a balanced, reasoned, evidence-informed essay by the Israeli science and mathematics education academics Eshach and Fried: Should Science be Taught in Early Childhood, which warns against inquiry methods.

It seems to me that the academic primary science community is neglecting a large and influential body of education research. Where can my primary science colleagues find the balanced arguments to help them make up their own minds?



Here is the Core Knowledge Foundation’s primary link.

1 Comment

  1. The academic primary science community might not be aware but the primary science teachers certainly are – at least I am and my colleagues are. I wouldn’t worry too much. I’d say that the academic primary science community, much like the academic primary history and the academic primary geography communities are keen to hear from primary science teachers to inform their understanding of what make effective practice. More of a side by side then a top down development of pedagogical expertise. I enjoy your blog – keep writing! @MrRRBurns


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