Supporting Intrinsic Motivation through IBL: Scaffolding a Physics Experiment
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This study investigates the dynamics between scaffolding of inquiry based learning (IBL) and intrinsic motivation for the task at hand. Within the context of an IBL version of a 11th/12th grade physics practical (Ionising Radiation Practical), a literature survey and analysis of earlier research results was followed by two cycles of design-based research. Based on scaffolding categories from literature, earlier qualitative research was revisited, demonstrating that during the IBL work students were reporting difficulties in terms of two main areas: process knowledge, i.e., how to approach the practical and nonsalient tasks, e.g., how to use the equipment involved. Based on these results, two design cycle iterations were performed, with a total of 17 students participating in focus group interviews after each iteration. After trying out the final redesign, students reported an increase in perceived competence support, while still retaining a sense of autonomy. Moreover, student remarks suggest that the scope of support for intrinsic motivation went beyond the scaffolding itself. The results suggest that appropriate scaffolding can increase students’ competency, while retaining their autonomy, thus supporting more autonomous types of motivation in the Self-Determination Theory. Implications for education and suggestions for further quantitative research are proposed.