Measuring inquiry: New methods, promises & challenges

Document Type

Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS)


International Society of the Learning Sciences

Publication Date



Contemporary views of science education regard scientific inquiry and the ability to reason scientifically as the essential core of science education (American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 1993; Chinn & Malhotra, 2002; NRC, 1996; Krajcik et al, 1998; Songer et al, 2003). According to White and colleagues, scientific inquiry is an active process comprised of four primary components: theorizing, questioning and hypothesizing, investigating, analyzing and synthesizing (White & Frederiksen, 1998; White, Frederiksen & Collins, in preparation). Measuring these inquiry processes as well as the products that result from the processes has long been a challenge for educators and researchers (Marx et al, 2004); however, advances in technology and measurement are creating new possibilities for assessing both process and product (Pellegrino, Chudowsky & Glaser, 2001; Behrens, 2009). There are three themes that this symposium is addressing: what inquiry is and is not, the best way to teach inquiry, and the best way to measure inquiry. We have chosen a widely accepted definition of what inquiry is by White et al, described above, and are focusing our work on the latter, how to best measure inquiry.

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