South-Central Section - 47th Annual Meeting (4-5 April 2013)

Paper No. 1-10
Presentation Time: 11:10 AM


OSTLUND, Karen L., National Science Teachers Association, 1840 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA, 22201,

In order to become competitive in the global economy, our students need to learn and use 21st century skills of problem solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, and innovation. Teaching students about the environmental challenge of climate change can be the vehicle for acquiring and practicing these vital skills. Unfortunately, students hold misconceptions about climate change. Research indicates that simply correcting misconceptions does not change them. However, providing students with accurate information will help students realize that their mental models are not adequate to explain climate change. Engaging students in scaffolded inquiry to learn about climate change involves the use of 21stcentury skills. Just as scaffolding provides the structure and support needed to construct a building, scaffolded inquiry provides essential support as students construct the skills and knowledge needed to build science literacy. As students progress through the stages of inquiry, the support provided by the teacher diminishes, and student ownership of the investigative process increases. This developmental process is essential for students to reach the ultimate goal of conducting scientific investigations independently. The Continuum of Inquiry described below is a series of developmental stages that students progress through to learn the skills and knowledge necessary to engage in inquiry.

Directed Inquiry- the teacher models the inquiry process to introduce students to the essential features of inquiry and to help them reflect on the scientific practices. This provides the foundation upon which subsequent stages of inquiry are built.

In Guided Inquiry, the teacher becomes a facilitator as students continue to refine their scientific practices based on the foundation developed during Directed Inquiry and practice the skills with greater independence. As students learn science concepts, they build science literacy and improve confidence in their abilities to do inquiry.

Full/Open Inquiry is one of the ultimate goals of science literacy. To conduct full/open inquiry, students must be able to apply the skills and knowledge developed in the previous stages of the Continuum of Inquiry.