Again: inquiry-based approach and PISA-data

I discovered that my version of this graph has been shared quite a lot:

Now Dirk Van Damme shared a new study based on UK PISA-data. The study in short:

  • Enquiry teaching methods are a popular approach to science instruction.
  • The link between enquiry instruction and science achievement has previously been investigated using PISA.
  • These studies have been limited by PISA’s cross-sectional design.
  • We present new evidence using longitudinal PISA data from in England.
  • We find frequent use of inquiry instruction is not associated with higher achievement.

Abstract of the study:

Inquiry-based science teaching involves supporting pupils to acquire scientific knowledge indirectly by conducting their own scientific experiments, rather than receiving scientific knowledge directly from teachers. This approach to instruction is widely used among science educators in many countries. However, researchers and policymakers have recently called the effectiveness of inquiry approaches into doubt. Using nationally-representative, linked survey and administrative data, we find little evidence that the frequency of inquiry-based instruction is positively associated with teenagers’ performance in science examinations. This finding is robust to the use of different measures of inquiry, different examinations/measures of attainment, across classrooms with varying levels of disciplinary standards and across gender and prior attainment subgroups.


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