Inquiry Based Teaching

Effect Size d = 0.31  (Hattie's Rank = 86)

Here is one example of many where Hattie denigrates Inquiry Based Teaching.

Dr Mandy Lupton analyses the research that Hattie used in detail here. She finds many of the same problems already mentioned - the use of the same data across different meta-analyses thus skewing the average, the use of non-school students (adults and university students) and the use of very old studies with different definitions of what Inquiry is.

Lupton concludes,
"the set of studies are old and are not likely to reflect contemporary classroom practice. Also, they all report on science curriculum, in particular most of the studies compare traditional fact-based, textbook based teaching with experiential, experimental laboratory approaches. There is no indication that these results are relevant in any other subject area such as history, geography or mathematics, or indeed in a contemporary science classroom."

"It’s hard to see that any useful conclusions to improve teaching and learning can be drawn from Hattie’s analysis. And it’s alarming that school administrators are using Hattie’s research to dismiss inquiry approaches out of hand."
Apples vs Oranges

So once again Hattie combines studies that are measuring totally different things to get one effect size.

Examples of the wide range of styles that are under the broad umbrella of "Inquiry" (from Trevor Mackenzie) are:

Relatedly, Terry Wrigley (2018) in The power of ‘evidence’: Reliable science or a set of blunt tools? also discusses the problem of research into 'project-based learning',
"This problem of agency is well illustrated by a recent attempt to evaluate project-based learning within the required norms of EEF funding (EEF, 2016). This trial involved 12 intervention and 12 control schools, altogether around 4,000 Year 7 students, occupying 25–50% of the timetable for almost a year. The high dropout rate (nearly half the intervention schools) suggests a problem in convincing teachers and also perhaps students. This raises the question of whether pedagogies requiring a strong professional commitment can be evaluated through such a trial, especially when they break from the tightly controlled pedagogies which have become the norm in a high-stakes accountability regime. More broadly, we are faced with a paradox which puts the entire RCT methodology in doubt as far as education is concerned: human volition is both necessary and a contaminator. The question of agency and pedagogical intention is inescapable, and will be discussed later through the lens of critical realism" (p. 365).
Wrigley then goes onto discussing inappropriate averaging of disparate studies,
"Hattie comes close to a similar problem in his clear preference for ‘direct instruction’ over inquiry-type methods. However, provided one reads his words closely, he is actually referring to a specific model of ‘direct instruction’ (from Adams & Engelmann, 1996) rather than general notions of didactic teaching, teaching from the front or rote learning. This model involves not only clear presentation but a sequence of learner engagement, modelling, guided practice, monitoring and independent practice/ transfer (Hattie, 2009: 205–206). Although he states (208–212) that inquiry methods and problem-based learning are less efficient for learning facts and concepts, he agrees that they are better for longer-term recall, understanding the principles that link concepts together, engaging students, applying knowledge, solving problems, critical thinking and scientific process. 
Unfortunately, the dials which decorate these pages can be extremely misleading, since they do not reflect such differences of purpose; the simple meta-analytic averaging of mean effect sizes could easily seduce teachers into discarding inquiry methods" (p. 368).
Georgios Zonnios has written one of the most insightful analogies which clearly demonstrates the problem with our research based methods on problem/inquiry/discovery learning,
"Decades of research has led many educators to believe that, in general, people learn more effectively through explicit instruction than self-driven discovery. However, this research has consistently lacked clarity on fundamentals and skewed its definitions to fit school systems, rather than fitting the broader goal of enhancing learning." See Full analogy here.
Richard Olsen also details an analysis of the studies Hattie used in What can Visible Learning effect sizes tell us about inquiry-based learning? Nothing.

Robert Stevens writes another great article, In defence of inquiry-based pedagogies. Stevens uses a useful analogy,
"If we see pedagogies as tools for learning, this claim is on a par with the assertion that a hammer is less effective and efficient than a screwdriver. In response to this claim, we might ask ‘for what?’ For driving in nails, a hammer is better. For adjusting screws, a screwdriver is better. So, for what is strongly guided instruction better?"
Cognitive Load Theory & IBL:

Cognitive Load Theory also questions the usefulness of PBL and Inquiry based learning. The idea being PBL and IBL create too great a cognitive load on students as their working memory is small.

Reading the studies on CLT, the aspect that directly got my attention was the narrow definition of schooling - 
"an increase in long term memory"
Whilst CLT is useful, surely schooling is much more than just increasing student's long term memory!

A clear explanation is by Daniel Willingham, a key researcher and adviser to the Evidence Organisation, Deans for Impact in his influential book "Why Don't Students Like School".

Willingham says there is "a big gap between research and practice" and influences "cannot be separated in the classroom" as "they often interact in difficult-to-predict ways." He provides the following example, 
"... laboratory studies show that repetition helps learning, but any teacher knows that you can’t take that finding and pop it into a classroom by, for example, having students repeat long-division problems until they’ve mastered the process.  
Repetition is good for learning but terrible for motivation. With too much repetition, motivation plummets, students stop trying, and no learning takes place. The classroom application would not duplicate the laboratory result." (from the introduction).
Dr. Christian Bokhove provides some pause on the CLT studies, by showing that the studies do not measure motivation nor engagement. 

There is also contradictory evidence between novice and experienced learners.

Also, the measures of cognitive load are based on self analytical questions which are VERY subjective -

Bokhove also challenges the general and sweeping claims, e.g., Sweller -

Inquiry Based Video Essay - a Challenge to CLT

Melbourne teacher Travis Mckenzie give a great example of the success of his video essay technique with students-
Schooling is more than memorisation

PBL and IBL engage students, give them control over their learning, provide real life and interesting problems to solve; but may create a cognitive overload as they may wrestle with these questions for a long time. 

There are many examples of prominent people referring to the challenge of deep, complex and meaningful questions that engage them for the rest of their lives, e.g.,

"What Is Art Robert?

I've just read the biography of the great Australian Art historian, Robert Hughes. 

Hughes describes being taken to a Sydney Art gallery as a teenager. His teacher noticed that Hughes scoffed at an impressionist painting and Hughes exclaimed this is not Art!

The teacher retorted, "then what is Art Robert?"

Hughes writes that that one question consumed him for the rest of his life!

Please teachers don't let schooling be reduced to:

an change in long term memory (Sweller et al.).

or an improvement in a test score (Hattie).

Other papers - More isn't always better: The curvilinear relationship between inquiry-based teaching and student achievement in science.

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