Inquiry Based Teaching

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

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.'

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' (p365).
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 enquiry-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' (p368).

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