A qualitative and free-choice approach on the influence of an inquiry-based learning practical on intrinsic motivation
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Studies have found a decline in intrinsic motivation (IM) for science of students in secondary education. There are indications that the educational approach could prevent the decline. Inquiry based learning could be a solution to this problem by raising the basic psychological needs for intrinsic motivation: perceived competence, autonomy and relatedness. Therefore, this study investigates the influence of an inquiry-based learning (IBL) practical on intrinsic motivation opposed to a direct instruction (DI) practical, in the context of a national radiation practical (ISP). With a semi- experimental qualitative approach intrinsic motivation and the support of its basic psychological needs are determined from 16 students of secondary education (age 16-18). This is conducted using a task which measures free-choice behaviour, interviews and focus groups. When observing the free-choice behaviour, there are indications that IM was positively influenced by IBL. However, this is not quantitatively measured. Opposed to what was expected, it is found that the perceived level of competence was not sufficiently supported by IBL opposed to DI for all students. IBL was a ‘fun challenge’, but was also too difficult. DI provided more support, but was also too easy. Nonetheless, participants experienced a positive perceived level of autonomy with IBL and not with DI. The perceived level of relatedness could not be determined. In conclusion, IBL met the competence and autonomy needs for some students. However, it needs alteration to provide more guidance to support competence in all students, and therefore foster intrinsic motivation.