Understanding the PISA 2015 findings about science teaching

Filling the pail

I have shared the following graphic a few times. It shows that frequent use of enquiry-based learning, as defined by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), is associated with worse scores on the science component of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). It is based upon surveying students about their experiences in science lessons and then matching this to PISA science performance:

I often point this out to advocates of inquiry learning. Nobody likes cognitive dissonance and so the response I usually receive is, “Well yes, everything done to the extreme is a bad idea. This just tells us about those students who are exposed to inquiry learning in all or most lessons.”

So it is worth going to another chart. This chart shows how an ‘index’ of enquiry-based learning affects overall results. The index isn’t just about enquiry in all or most lessons but about the relative…

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