The Educational Potential of Inquiry Based -Workshops in a Science Museum: A descriptive analysis of IB education at Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Santen, S.J. van
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This report provides the results on a structural evaluation of two Inquiry Based workshops, commissioned by Naturalis Biodiversity Centre. Through a descriptive analysis, using a mixed-methods approach, it was investigated to what extent these workshops contribute to IB education and this led to innovative recommendations. This provided insights on the potential of such structured IB workshops as an effective strategy to offer inquiry learning programs in science museums. As research on IB education focused on formal settings mainly, first a framework was developed bridging the gap between formal and informal science education. The two workshops, developed for upper level secondary school groups, were investigated throughout the three curricular levels (intended, implemented and attained) and evaluated in the light of inquiry learning and teaching theories. Since Naturalis did not clearly predetermine the objectives for the workshops, a method was developed to determine these in retrospect. Hypothetical learning trajectories were used throughout the study; first to reveal if and how the intended goals were addressed in the designs, then as an instrument to collect and analyze observational data providing results on implemented and attained level. Questionnaire data provided insights on students' experiences. It has been indicated that school field trips to museums are often underused. And the results of this study seem to indicate that the evaluated programs indeed have greater potential than what is currently achieved. It is shown here how Naturalis could use its uniqueness, being a research institute with also an impressive collection. IB workshops with otherwise inaccessible objects could enhance student motivation while ensuring structure and guidance to support the inquiry learning. Physical and concrete examples of abstract, evolutionary phenomena can be provided while engaging the students in scientific inquiry in an authentic environment.